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

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

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

"I sent a letter to Pope Francis", Maduro told Italy's SkyTG24 television in an interview broadcast on Monday, with opposition leader Juan Guaido gaining more global support.

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 welcomed the European Union nations' recognition of Guaido and encouraged other countries to follow suit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

In an appearance later on state television, Maduro was especially harsh on fellow socialist and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, saying he would have "blood on his hands" if a coup is carried out against him.

Italy does not recognize the result of Venezuela's presidential election last May, which Maduro won, and wants new elections as soon as possible, Italy's foreign minister told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

He said Spain, which has a sizable Venezuelan community, also is working on a humanitarian aid program for Venezuela, where shortages of basic items are acute.

France, Germany, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and the Netherlands also recognized Guaido.

After several years of opposition efforts to oust Maduro, Guaido declared himself acting president at a rally on January 23.

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".

Maduro said he could not rule out civil war.

The group built on that backing in its final communique by calling upon "the National Armed Forces of Venezuela to demonstrate their loyalty to the Interim President in his constitutional functions as their Commander in Chief".

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Canada's largest union - the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Labour Congress have expressed varying degrees of concern over Canada's move to recognize Guaido as interim president.

They have suffered enough, and the Maduro regime must end.

Maduro began a new term in office last month after 2018 elections branded invalid by the opposition.

"As of yesterday, no presidential election had been called", Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a visit to Tokyo.

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.

On Monday, oil prices rose to their highest level yet this year on European markets on the back of the crisis in Venezuela.

The 35-year-old Guaido, accused by Maduro's government of staging a US -directed coup, has galvanized Venezuela's opposition with a hopeful message.

The US and other countries have already pledged humanitarian aid for Guaido's administration, though it remains to be seen where and how it can enter the country without the military's support.

Canada has announced a humanitarian relief package for Venezuela.

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

A masked anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail towards Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guardsmen who clashed with the small group of demonstrators when they tried to block a road after the group attended a peaceful demonstration called by self-declared interim president Juan Guaido, to demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

All eyes are now on Venezuela's military, which has so far been Maduro's main pillar of support, but there have been signs of unrest in the ranks.

Related news