Published: Tue, January 29, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Maduro rejects call for elections amid mounting pressure

Maduro rejects call for elections amid mounting pressure

Guaido, the democratically elected leader of the opposition in Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself interim president last week.

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido has called for demonstrations two days this week in his latest bid to sway the country's military to his side and away from leader Nicolas Maduro.

The United States, along with growing number of Western nations and regional neighbors including the UK, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, have recognized Guaido as acting president.

Nicolas Maduro's election to a six-year presidential term last year has been widely criticized as a fraud created to keep him and his military allies in power despite the country's years-long spiral into misery and hunger. The White House said it would refuse to leave.

Pompeo named American diplomat Elliott Abrams as the Trump administration's new special envoy to Venezuela.

Bolton later tweeted the the U.S. urges all nations to "support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from former president Maduro's illegitimate mafia state".

Pompeo and President Donald Trump have been intransigent in the face of Maduro's fury.

Maduro himself came to Turkey past year after Erdogan's victory in the national and presidential elections, hailing the Turkish president as a "friend" of Caracas. Transport costs would also jump because Venezuela's ports aren't well-equipped to load supertankers for transporting oil to such distant markets, said Russ Dallen, managing partner of Caracas Capital, a brokerage. In fact, a coalition of Latin American nations, the Lima Group, has led the fight against Maduro and has specifically requested USA help.

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But Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Venezuela doesn't threaten global peace and security and accused "extremist opponents" of Maduro's legitimate government of choosing "maximum confrontation", including the artificial creation of a parallel government.

Earlier on Saturday, France, Germany, Britain and Spain set an eight-day deadline for calling elections for recognizing Guaido's leadership. In an interview on Sunday with CNN Turk, Maduro claimed that he was the "the victim of a U.S. conspiracy" that had resulted in the threat to his power.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Sunday the department accepted the selection of Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as Venezuela's Chargé d'Affaires to the United States. But for those on the hard edges of the American left, nothing has changed since the end of the Cold War: The U.S. continues to be the boogeyman, and Latin America continues to be a victim that lacks agency.

Recognition of Guaido by the U.S., Venezuela's biggest trade partner, already threatens to heap more misery on the country's crisis-stricken economy, and a similar move by European nations would complicate matters further.

From an worldwide standpoint, the time for dialogue seems to have passed, judging from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's address to the UN Security Council on Saturday, during which he urged members to back Mr Guaido's transitional government.

Citgo, which is owned by PDVSA, will be permitted to continue operating in the long as money goes into a blocked account that Maduro can not access.

Meanwhile, Russia, China and Cuba, among others, are backing Maduro, claiming Guaido's actions are directed toward a military coup in Venezuela.

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