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

France, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom announced Monday that they were recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president after an eight-day deadline for Maduro to call elections had not been met.

The United States, Canada and several Latin American countries have disavowed Maduro over his disputed re-election a year ago and recognized self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido as the country's rightful leader.

Already recognized by the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia and several Latin American countries, Guaido is trying to force the socialist leader from power, aiming to set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections. On Monday, Italy reportedly blocked an European Union statement recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

"We know that the people of Venezuela are facing tremendous hardship and they need our help, as do the countries who have taken in those fleeing violence", Mr. Trudeau said.

Asked in Brussels on Monday whether Ireland would follow other major European Union nations in recognising him, Ireland's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told reporters: "No, our position has been clear".

"We are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: Human rights, elections and no more political prisoners".

But he stopped short of breaking off diplomatic relations with the 16 European countries that recognized his rival Monday, unlike his swift move to cut off ties with the US after it threw its support behind Guaido last month.

Jon Snow is joined by the Labour MP Chris Williamson, who like Jeremy Corbyn, has supported the Chavez and Maduro governments in Venezuela. According to United Nations statistics, as many as 208,300 Venezuelans have arrived in Spain.

A Canadian government official said: "How can we continue to support the opposition to keep the pressure up on the regime and push for new elections?"

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Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly, declared himself interim head of state on January 23.

Trudeau spoke on Sunday to Guaido and the two "discussed the importance of the global community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime", Trudeau's office said.

Trump warned that military intervention remains "an option" for dealing with the crisis in Venezuela.

"I told him that I serve Christ's cause... and in this spirit I asked for his help, in a process of facilitating and strengthening dialogue", said Maduro, who has rejected calls for snap presidential elections.

Russia, one of Maduro's most powerful foreign backers, having provided billions of dollars of credit to his government in recent years, denounced the diplomatic pressure as "meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs".

He began to exercise authority for the first time this weekend, calling on the army to allow in humanitarian aid to a nation wracked by economic crisis.

While U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said last week that boxes of USAID branded baby formula and supplies for malnourished children are being readied to deploy to Venezuela, it's not clear how they can safely enter.

"For this reason, we don't back Maduro as well". He also announced $53 million in humanitarian aid to support the Venezuelan people.

If all European countries follow in the footsteps of the Trump Administration, their decision to recognise Guaido could potentially cut the Venezuelan Government off from any accounts or assets in those countries.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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