European nations back Venezuelan opposition leader

by Garry Watts February 5, 2019, 1:10
European nations back Venezuelan opposition leader

On Monday, a group of European nations officially recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

The statement, which expressed the "most energetic rejection" to the European Union states' decision, added that the Venezuelan government will now revise its bilateral relations with European Union countries who have recognized Guaido as the legitimate interim president. On Monday, Italy reportedly blocked an European Union statement recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said as he announced Madrid had recognised Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly who declared himself last month to be the oil-rich South American country's interim ruler.

"They use sledgehammers instead of boxing gloves", President Maduro said, accusing the United States of seeking his removal so that it could take control of Venezuela's vast oil reserves.

The embattled Maduro, whose years in power have seen Venezuela sink into an economic crisis that the United Nations estimates has led as many as three million Venezuelans to flee the country and brought on widespread food shortages, has refused to step down despite accusations that his country's most recent election was rigged. "It is time for free and fair elections", the spokesman told reporters, according to Reuters.

Russian Federation and China, who have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Mr Maduro in an extension of their geopolitical tussle with the United States.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference.

"I swear ... that I will defend with my life this fatherland under threat", Maduro said at an event in Aragua state in the north, commemorating the 27th anniversary of a failed coup by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez.

The 35-year-old Guaido, head of the country's National Assembly, has breathed new life into a previously fractured and tired opposition.

Venezuela's Guaidó Calls on Military to Reject Maduro
On Saturday, Maduro said he was willing to sit down for talks with the opposition in an effort to promote national "harmony". Although Arellano, along and his wife Mayra Lopez, left a year ago, they say the problems back home have only gotten worse.

Pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down just a month after he began his second term as president following disputed and controversial 2018 elections.

"It is only the Venezuelan people that has to decide their future", Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said in a statement.

A group of Latin American and European states are to hold their first meeting of a contact group in Montevideo on Thursday.

"Faced with President Maduro's refusal to organize presidential elections which would clarify, calm the situation in Venezuela. we consider that Mr. Guaido has the capacity and legitimacy to organize these elections". We did not participate, none of us, at the inauguration of Maduro on January 10.

The 14-nation Lima Group - made up of Canada and Latin American countries - meets in Ottawa on Monday.

Over the weekend, he called on the army to allow in humanitarian aid from the United States via neighboring Colombia and Brazil.

Maduro also claimed that "the military option is on Donald Trump's table".

Spain is one of the main destinations for migrants from Venezuela, many of whom have fled Maduro's rule and the continuing humanitarian crisis.

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