Published: Tue, February 05, 2019
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

European Union nations get behind Venezuela's Juan Guaido as acting president

European Union nations get behind Venezuela's Juan Guaido as acting president

Some EU members are nervous about setting a precedent of recognising a self-proclaimed leader.

Inside the country, opposition figurehead Juan Guaido, 35, is vying to lure military commanders to switch their allegiance to him away from President Nicolas Maduro, 56. It is time for free and fair elections.

"He is the legitimate interim president for this task from Germany's point of view and from the point of view of several European countries".

The Lima Group's final statement out of Monday's meeting in Ottawa emphasized the group's "support for a process of peaceful transition through political and diplomatic means without the use of force".

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, urging both fair elections and humanitarian aid.

World powers are taking sides in the deadly struggle to lead Venezuela, which has pitted some Western nations against Russia, China and others.

After British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that his country would join those backing Guaido, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said London was studying the possible sanctions. Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, the Czech Republic and Portugal also lined up behind Guaido, the self-declared interim president who also has the support of the United States and many South American nations.

"Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

"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. "A lot of those problems are a result of precisely of the economic sanctions levied against Venezuela and the fact that we've seen oil prices crash globally", he said.

A group of Latin American and European states are to hold their first meeting of a contact group in Montevideo on Thursday.

Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left the country suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.


The 35-year-old Guaido, head of the country's National Assembly, has breathed new life into a previously fractured and tired opposition.

Maduro denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis, calling it a fabrication by Venezuela's enemies to sow instability and justify a military intervention.

In a statement, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry rejected the announcements by European countries, charging that they were "officially joining the US' strategy to overthrow the legitimate Government of President Nicolas Maduro".

BRUSSELS-The leaders of two of the European Union's biggest political groupings have called for urgent reform of how the bloc makes foreign policy decisions after its response to the Venezuela crisis descended into chaos.

Maduro then continued his accusations against the Trump administration, which he claims is preparing a coup and that "the military option is on [President] Donald Trump's table".

Europe's support has not gone down well with Russian Federation, one of the first countries to throw its support behind Maduro as the crisis evolved.

Earlier Sunday, Maduro addressed troops on military exercises in Venezuela's coastal northeast, calling on them for "maximum cohesion" a day after a top Air Force general publicly sided with Guaido.

She said that Guaido derives his legitimacy from being the leader of the national assembly in Venezuela.

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

The contact group comprises the European Union and eight of its member states - France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden - and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Uruguay.

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