Published: Mon, January 28, 2019
Money | By Bruce West

Venezuela's Maduro denounces election call but says ready to talk

Venezuela's Maduro denounces election call but says ready to talk

It follows similar decisions by the US, Canada, Germany and a number of South American nations, amid calls for President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

The leaders of two of those council nations - France and Britain - joined Spain and Germany to turn up the pressure on Maduro, saying Saturday that they would follow the US and others in recognizing Guaido as president unless Venezuela calls a new presidential election within eight days. Greece's left-wing ruling Syriza party, however, voiced full support for Maduro.

Venezuela has sunk into a crushing economic crisis under Maduro's policies, with widespread food and medical shortages that have forced millions of people to starve or flee.

Silva told Reuters in Washington that one consular official in Houston and one in another USA city also recognized Guaido, but that he was the only diplomat in Washington he knew of who had taken the step.

Guaido has won wide worldwide support, including from the United States. The US was supported by its allies in the region while several European countries simultaneously issued an ultimatum that new elections should be called for within eight days.

While Maduro's government looks increasingly isolated internationally, it retains the support of China and Russian Federation.

Venezuela's self-declared interim leader Juan Guaido. Maduro maintains he is the democratically elected president and says Guaido is part of a US -led coup. For decades, diplomacy between Cuba and the United States was represented by an interest section.

Things would move far more quickly if the military switched sides, but that would probably require amnesties for them and for some top Venezuelan officials, many of them accused by Washington of corruption, violations of human rights or drug trafficking.

Payne said on Monday that Australia "recognises and supports the president of the national sssembly, Juan Guaidó, in assuming the position of interim president, in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution and until elections are held".

Venezuelan Sports Minister Pedro Infante made a plea Saturday for the series to take place as planned in Barquisimeto, saying the government could guarantee security.

One man identifying himself as Venezuela's military attache in Washington, D.C., posted a video of himself saying he had broken with Maduro and now would report to Guaido.

The U.S. and many other nations argue that Maduro's re-election last May was invalid because his strongest opponents were barred from running.

Another factor that could accelerate the transition: if Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil (the United States buys one-third of its total exports, some 510,000 barrels a day last year), this would deliver a fatal blow to the economy and fracture Maduro's base of supporters, according to the Capital Economics consultancy.

But as the sun set on Venezuela's capital, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Maduro's government was suspending the expulsion to provide a 30-day window for negotiating with USA officials about setting up a "U.S. interests office" in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States. "Our priority remains the safety and protection of our personnel and U.S. citizens overseas".

During the debate, which was requested by the U.S., Pompeo urged all nations to end Venezuela's "nightmare" and support Guaido. "We continue adding countries to this great effort", he said.

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