The opponent Juan Guaido has been recognized as interim president of Venezuela by 19 countries of the European Union, immediately accused by the socialist president Nicolas Maduro of “supporting the putschist plans” of the United States.
While diplomatic support is growing, Juan Guaido, 35, is trying to organize the arrival of humanitarian aid to Venezuela, where the population suffers significant shortages.
Monday, the day after the expiration of a European ultimatum summoning Socialist President Nicolas Maduro to call an early presidential election, 19 EU countries including the United Kingdom, France and Germany have taken the step and have recognized Mr. Guaido.
These supporters were denounced as an “interference” by Russia, one of Maduro’s main allies. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, accused the EU of seeking to overthrow Maduro in defiance of “democracy”.
The 19 EU countries have thus joined the position taken by the United States, Canada and a dozen Latin American countries including Colombia and Brazil.
The EU, however, remains divided: Italy has blocked a joint EU statement, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels.
Venezuela has announced that it will “fully re-evaluate” its diplomatic relations with European countries that have recognized Juan Guaido, accusing them of supporting “putschist plans” following a “US scenario”.
Washington, which recognized Mr Guaido immediately after his self-proclamation as President on 23 January, welcomed European recognition and invited all other countries to do the same.
Meeting Monday in Ottawa, eleven of the fourteen countries of the Lima Group, which brings together countries from Latin America and the Caribbean and Canada, called for a change of government “without the use of force” in Venezuela and urged army to rank behind Juan Guaido.
President Maduro went on a rampage against this intervention by the Lima Group. “This last release is really disgusting, disgusting and laughable, we do not know whether to laugh or throw up,” he said. Mr. Maduro, who was speaking at a ceremony in Caracas, judged the various demands put forward by the group “one more demented than the other”.
He also noted the new statements of President Donald Trump reaffirming the possibility of US military action in the Venezuelan crisis. “As if he were talking about a vacation in Miami Beach, he said he was considering the option of an invasion, it’s a madness, Mr. Donald Trump,” said the head of state Chaviste.
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The opposition, meanwhile, is trying to organize the arrival of humanitarian aid. Canada has pledged 53 million Canadian dollars (35 million euros) worth of aid to the Venezuelan people on Monday, adding to the 20 million dollars in aid announced by Washington.
According to Juan Guaido, it is about collecting food and medicines in Colombia, Brazil and on a Caribbean island. The leader of the opposition has also called Monday for a new demonstration, without specifying the date, to require the military to let this aid enter the country.
Guaido accused the Venezuelan military high command of wanting to “steal” aid destined for the country for distribution on behalf of the government. He also said he suspected Maduro of wanting to transfer $ 1.2 billion to Uruguay.
Guaido’s representatives in the United States announced an international conference on humanitarian aid for Venezuela on Feb. 14 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington.
The people of Venezuela, the oil-producing country and once the richest in Latin America, are facing severe food and drug shortages and runaway inflation. Since 2015, some 2.3 million of them have chosen to leave the country, out of a total population of 31 million.
Supported by Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea and Turkey, 56-year-old Maduro, who attributed the shortages to US sanctions, rejects any humanitarian aid, saying that accepting such aid would be tantamount to opening the door. leads to military intervention against his government.
Juan Guaido, the Social Democrat President of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president on January 23, citing the Constitution. He considers Nicolas Maduro a usurper for being re-elected in an election contested by the opposition and a large part of the international community, with his opponents in prison or in exile.
Seeking a peaceful exit to the crisis, a contact group formed by the EU and five Latin American countries (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay) will hold a first meeting on Thursday in Montevideo.
“We will not participate, our program is clear: stop the usurpation, a transitional government and free elections (…) We will not fall into a false dialogue,” said Juan Guaido Monday.
Nicolas Maduro said he hoped that a “dialogue” space would come out of this contact group. He also confided that he wrote to Pope Francis asking for help and mediation.
To preserve its “credibility”, the UN decided not to participate in any of the groups discussing Venezuela. Its secretary-general Antonio Guterres, however, said he was willing to help both sides “to find a political solution”.
Juan Guaido, who offered an amnesty to the military if they join him, is counting on another day of mobilization on February 12 to keep up the pressure on the Chavista power.
According to the NGO Foro penal, nearly a thousand people have been arrested since the beginning of the demonstrations against power.
“Between 21 and 31 January, 966 arrests took place (…) 700 people are still imprisoned,” said Monday the director of the NGO, Alfredo Romero.