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Venezuela's socialist party boss calls on supporters to protect Maduro

Diosdado Cabello: We are going to stay in the streets, and stay in battle

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(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CARACAS – Socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello is calling on government supporters to mobilize in front of Venezuela's presidential palace to protect Nicolas Maduro from what he is calling a U.S.-led conspiracy to remove him from power.

"The Bolivarian revolution doesn't have an expiration date," he told a crowd of red-shirted supporters at a rally in downtown Caracas.

"We are going to stay in the streets, and stay in battle, for now and forever," Cabello said, marking the government's first reaction to opposition leader Juan Guaido's decision to declare himself interim president.

Supporters responded with shouts of "They Will Not Return!," a popular refrain used by the government to denounce the elite politicians who governed Venezuela before Hugo Chavez's revolution in 1999.

The pro-government march attracted thousands but was far smaller than the cross-town opposition march where Guaido said he would temporarily take over as president and call elections.

The Trump administration immediately backed Guaido's declaration.