European nations raise pressure on Venezuela's Maduro

Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido

Venezuela's opposition chief Juan Guaido

The Venezuelan government hit back at European countries which on Monday recognised President Nicolas Maduro's rival, opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as interim president.

The Venezuelan government has emphatically rejected European Union member states' decision to back opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, saying Caracas will now revise its relationship with these countries.

But with the majority of the military still standing with Maduro, is the country stumbling towards civil war?

Palacek, like numerous protesters, said he doesn't blame Maduro or his predecessor Hugo Chavez for the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

Newsnight is the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme - with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews. She added that she hoped Guaido would initiate those elections as "quickly as possible".

The Russian presidential spokesman thus responded to a journalist's question about the circumstances under which Russia could recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the republic's interim president.

Critics of the hard-left Socialist Maduro - who is accused of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship and wrecking its economy - blame the Venezuelan government's mismanagement for the lack of food and medical supplies.

Trudeau said the money will go toward addressing the basic needs of most Venezuelans and assisting more than three million Venezuelan refugees overseas.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was another leading political figure to endorse Guaido as interim president, while also urging him to call an election in the near future.

Guaido's backers say he is the legitimate leader because he is president of Venezuela's congress, which they regard as the only lawfully elected power in the country.

In addition to the European pressure, a bloc of Latin American nations and Canada were to meet on Monday seeking to maintain pressure on President Maduro.

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But in an interview with Spanish television station Sexta broadcast on Sunday evening, Maduro said he would not "cave in to pressure" from those calling for his departure.

Last week, the EU's top diplomat sounded a warning about the outlook for Venezuela amid the political standoff in the country.

Maduro has overseen several such military drills since Guaido declared himself president to display he has the backing of the military, and that Venezuela's armed forces are ready to defend the country.

Maduro claims the USA pledge to deliver $20 million in aid relief precedes a military intervention.

Maduro and Guaido have been battling for legitimacy in a struggle that has drawn in the world's major powers on one side or the other.

"The United States wants to return to the 20th century of military coups, subordinate puppet governments and the looting of resources", Maduro said.

"I ask the pope to put in his best effort, his will, to help on the path of dialogue". "I tend to be an optimist; in this case, I do not have particularly positive expectations", European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters on Friday in Bucharest, as she announced the bloc could consider new sanctions against Maduro.

Italy's 5-Star Movement, which makes up half of the ruling coalition, dissented from the European stance, saying it would never recognise self-appointed leaders. It aims to facilitate dialogue and is due to hold its first meeting in Uruguay on Thursday.

While speaking at a meeting of the Lima Group Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would provide $53 million to help the Venezuelan people.

Canada has already contributed $2.2 million for the humanitarian crisis that's forced some three million Venezuelans from their homes, sending ripples across the region - particularly in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia, which are now faced with a refugee crisis. Guaido is an opposition leader who's the head of Venezuela's legislature.

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