Venezuelan opposition welcomes Canada's call for military backing

Hugh Fox
February 5, 2019

"The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end", he said.

Already recognized by the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and several Latin American countries, Guaido is trying to force the socialist leader from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections.

Maduro, for his part, stood defiant, rejecting a U.S offer of humanitarian aid that has shifted attention to Venezuela's western border with Colombia, where opponents were gearing up to try to bring emergency food and medicine into the country.

"Therefore, Guaido is the person we are talking to and we expect him to begin an election process as soon as possible". German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Guaido is now Venezuela's "legitimate interim president".

Venezuela has the largest reserves in the world, but production has plunged under Mr Maduro's tenure.

Among other European Union nations recognising Guaido were: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Poland, Portugal and Sweden. "Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", he wrote on Twitter.

"We don't accept ultimatums from anyone", Maduro said in a defiant interview with Spanish television channel La Sexta carried out last week and broadcast on Sunday.

Venezuela's Guaido urges military defections amid protests
Juan Guaido speaks to supporters in a public plaza in Las Mercedes neighborhood of Caracas , Venezuela , Saturday, Jan. 29, 2019. Guaido says up to 300,000 people are "at risk of death" in Venezuela for want of humanitarian aid.

"Why would you want a repeat of Vietnam in Latin America?" Maduro said in an interview with Italy's Sky TG24 that he hopes the letter is in route or has reached the Vatican.

The UK takes this position alongside the Organisation of American States, the Lima Group, the United States and European partners.

"Soldiers of the fatherland: We need the humanitarian aid to come, for your mother, your sister and all your family", Guaido said at a news conference at the National Assembly to thank the European governments for their support.

Guaido lost no time Monday in building on broadened global support, with his fledgling alternative administration announcing February 14 talks in Washington on responding to "the largest hemispheric humanitarian crisis in modern history".

Before the closed-door meeting got under way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a "dictatorship willing to use force and fear" to maintain its power.

"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".

Freeland said Guaido's interim authority is meant to be used exclusively to order free and fair elections to return Venezuela to democracy.

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The president also announced a campaign to collect signatures against USA "interventionist acts" starting on Wednesday and said they would be handed over to the White House.

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.

On Sunday, Maduro addressed troops on military exercises, calling on them for "maximum cohesion".

Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday for competing shows of support for Guaido and for Maduro who was sworn in on January 10 to a disputed second six-year term.

The 35-year-old lawmaker, who is the head of the South American country's National Assembly, declared himself Venezuela's interim head of state last month, directly challenging Maduro's claim to the presidency.

Guaido has called for a new demonstration on February 12, and another protest to push for the entry of aid.

The Lima Group, which comprises 14 member states, was established in August 2017 to promote democratic reforms in Venezuela.

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If all European countries follow in the footsteps of the Trump Administration, their decision to recognise Guaido could potentially cut the Venezuelan Government off from any accounts or assets in those countries.

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