European Union nations support Venezuela's Guaido as anti-Maduro bloc grows

European nations recognise Guaido as Venezuela's acting 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.

"So UK alongside European allies now recognises Juan Guaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held".

In a taped interview that aired on CBS News, US President Donald Trump said that military action in Venezuela against Maduro remains "an option". Those who continue to violate the human rights of ordinary Venezuelans under an illegitimate regime will be called to account. He also announced $53 million in humanitarian aid to support the Venezuelan people.

The countries of the Lima Group completed their meeting in Ottawa on the crisis in Venezuela today - proclaiming the South American nation's opposition leader and its National Assembly as full members of the multi-nation group while ruling out military intervention to end the humanitarian crisis gripping the oil-rich nation. They meet after European nations this morning made a coordinated announcement to recognise rival Juan Guaido as leader.

On January 29, Washington slapped sanctions on the Venezuelan oil producer PDVSA and later transferred control of some of Venezuela's assets in U.S. banks to Guaido. In a statement, it accused them of submitting to a USA "strategy to overthrow the legitimate government" and singled out Spain for acting "cowardly".

Wallstrom echoed Hunt and Sanchez in their calls for an election to take place as soon as possible, she said: "Venezuela is a country in disrepair".

In January, the U.S. recognised Juan Guaido as the "legitimate" head of the country, handing him control of the country's assets in the US.

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse and the exodus of millions of Venezuelans, maintains the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, and the critical support of the military.

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"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".

On Monday, Maduro said he had written to Pope Francis, urging him to play a mediating role.

Venezuela has suffered an economic meltdown marked by hyperinflation and shortages of basic necessities that the opposition blames on the Maduro government. Uruguay's central bank and the office of the country's president did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the opposition was moving ahead with a risky strategy to bring in humanitarian aid from Colombia, hoping to break the all-important military's loyalty to Maduro.

"We think that imposing some kind of decisions or trying to legitimise an attempt to usurp power is both direct and indirect interference in Venezuela's internal affairs", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

However, despite many members of the European Union coming out in support of Guaido, Italy vetoed a joint declaration, branding it "meddling".

Maduro has rejected a USA -backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into Venezuela.

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.

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