Backed by military, Venezuela's Maduro hits back at rival

26 January, 2019, 02:27 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Guaido greets supporters after taking an oath to be Venezuela's interim president

The United States is seeking to ensure that Venezuelan oil revenue goes to Guaido, president of the National Assembly, and to cut off money from isolated Maduro, a USA official said on Thursday.

Although many rank-and-file troops suffer the same hardships as countless other Venezuelans when it comes to basic needs like feeding their families, Maduro has worked to cement their support with bonuses and other special benefits.

The European Union, which has imposed sanctions on Maduro's government, noted that Venezuelans had "massively called for democracy and the possibility to freely determine their own destiny" but stopped short of recognizing Guaido. The UN urged dialogue in Caracas to avoid "disaster".

A veteran of Iraq war, she has been opposed to American interventionist policy overseas and is against deployment of United States troops in other countries.

"The President of Russian Federation expressed support for the legitimate authorities of Venezuela in the context of a domestic political crisis that has been provoked from the outside", it said.

The Trump administration quickly recognized Guaido, and a defiant Maduro announced he was breaking ties with the United States hours later, accusing the American leader of meddling in Venezuela's affairs. "There is no doubt the Maduro's economic policies have been awful, and he has engaged in financial mismanagement and also political authoritarianism", he said. "We have supported them and will support them". Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the information committee at the Russian Federation Council, called Guaido's declaration "an attempted coup" backed by the U.S.

Venezuela's descent into a political crisis began this week when a group of soldiers rose up against Maduro and sparked a number of protests leading up to Wednesday's rival rallies that saw tens of thousands of people take to the streets.

Maduro has also called home all Venezuelan diplomats from the USA and closed its embassy in Washington Thursday.

That was the conclusion drawn from USA contacts with Guaido in the days ahead of his declaration, including two phone calls with Pence, officials said, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the situation.

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Some U.S. diplomats left the embassy in Caracas for the airport on Friday in a convoy escorted by police, according to a Reuters witness, after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro broke off relations with Washington and ordered American personnel out.

Tweeting from the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where he and other leaders were attending the World Economic Forum, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said: "Brazil recognises Mr Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president".

Moscow said Washington's "cavalier" actions in the country showed that the United States ignored norms of global law, claiming it wanted to push through a change of power in Venezuela.

Guaido, a virtually unknown lawmaker at the start of the year, has reignited the hopes of Venezuela's often beleaguered opposition by taking a rebellious tack amid Venezuela's crushing economic crisis.

For some, especially Mexico, which was renegotiating NAFTA, adopting a more aggressive stance was also an opportunity to gain leverage in bilateral relations with the Trump administration.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks to supporters at a public plaza in Caracas, Venezuela on Friday.

"The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law", Trump said.

Guaido said he would reject any negotiations that did not include Maduro's exit, the setting up of a transition government, and free elections to pick a new president.

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