United Nations political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela

Anna Jefferson
January 28, 2019

Earlier Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council: "Let me be 100 per cent clear - President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention".

In a country that has economically collapsed, with inflation forecast to hit a breathtaking 10 million percent this year, National Assembly chief Guaido said Wednesday he would "formally assume national executive powers" to end the "usurpation" of power by Nicolas Maduro.

"The armed forces have a fundamental role to play in the restoration of democracy", Col. Jose Luis Silva said in the video, which he said was shot at his office in the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, sitting in front of the nation's red, blue and yellow flag. He gave U.S. diplomats three days to leave the county - but the Trump administration said it wouldn't obey. After adding that the United States has the right to defend "our national security in cases where it's threatened", he reiterated that "the United States always retains the right, always, anywhere in the world, in any instance, to protect its national security, so I'm not going to justify military intervention because I don't know who is calling for that". France, Germany and Spain threatened to follow the U.S. in recognizing Guaido as the true leader.

Speaking to CNN Turk, Mr Maduro said Venezuela has held numerous elections of late - including presidential elections in May (which the United States and several Latin American nations did not recognise as legitimate) - and the European countries should withdraw their demand.

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"Any violence and intimidation against US diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response", Bolton tweeted Sunday.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, was the first European Union leader to issue an ultimatum, saying that "if within eight days there are no fair, free and transparent elections called in Venezuela, Spain will recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president".

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela January 25, 2019. Last week, a small Venezuelan national guard unit stole a stockpile of weapons in what it said was an attempt to oust Maduro.

Pope Francis, winding up a trip to Panama, said on Sunday he was praying that "a just and peaceful solution is reached to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights".

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Israel on Sunday joined a growing list of countries led by the United States that back Guaido's claim to the presidency on the basis that Maduro's second-term election victory was fraudulent.

Russia's UN Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, rejected that view, saying the United States was imposing its own "approaches and recipes" to resolve the problems on the ground in Venezuela.

Spain, Britain, France, Netherlands and Germany warned on Saturday they will recognise Guaido as interim president unless Maduro calls elections within eight days.

"If they want to leave Venezuela, they should all go, and now".

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Maduro's reelection a year ago was contested by the opposition and rejected by the US, EU and United Nations as a sham - but he has until now retained the loyalty of the powerful military. It says it will provide a 30-day window for negotiating with USA officials about setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States.

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