Maduro rejects ultimatum from European Union, urges Trump to stop intefering

Maduro rejects ultimatum from European Union, urges Trump to stop intefering

Maduro rejects ultimatum from European Union, urges Trump to stop intefering

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he has written to the pope asking him to help mediate his country's crisis after a swathe of nations recognised a rival opposition chief as interim leader.

President Maduro also had choice words for Washington's transatlantic allies, describing Europe's ultimatum to hold new elections as "the stuff of empires, of colonial times".

"We are in permanent contact with the governments of Spain, France, the United Kingdom and Germany". Eleven of its members have recognised Guaido.

Sanchez told reporters "we are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela", as Spain, France, and Sweden join countries that have recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation's interim president.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

It is unclear whether Maduro's government, which denies the country is suffering a humanitarian crisis, will let any foreign aid through.

Venezuela has as many as 2,000 generals, according to unofficial estimates, many of whom do not command troops and whose defection would not necessarily weaken the ruling socialists.

Maduro accused Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, of having taken "a bad decision" in recognising Guaido. "We aren't going to hand Venezuela over", said the Venezuelan president.

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. "Venezuelans have the right to express themselves freely and democratically", he wrote on Twitter.

"It is only the Venezuelan people that has to decide their future", Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, said in a statement.

"I swear ... that I will defend with my life this fatherland under threat", Maduro said at an event in Aragua state in the north, commemorating the 27th anniversary of a failed coup by his late predecessor Hugo Chavez. "We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela including through sanctions".

"We expect to initiate an election process as quickly as possible and for this task he is the legitimate interim president in the view of Germany and many European partners", German Chancellor, Angela Merkel said.

The challenge for participants is that Mexico, a member of the group, opposes any measures to oust Maduro, who also has the backing of Turkey in addition to Russian Federation and China. "We recognise as the legitimate institution in the country the National Assembly and recognize the role of its president".

Although the United States has broached the idea of an oil embargo on Venezuela, the 14-nation Lima Group, meeting in Ottawa, looked set to hold off imposing more sanctions on Maduro's government, sources briefed on the matter said.

"The Bolivarian republic of Venezuela expresses its most energetic rejection of the decision by some European governments, which officially submit to the strategy of the US administration to topple the government", Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza, tweeted. "I hope to receive a positive response", he said.

"I'm with the Venezuelan people against regimes like that of Maduro, based on violence, fear and hunger", League leader Matteo Salvini said last month.

"The unity of positions in the modern and most influential foreign powers leaves Maduro isolated and weakened, and it strengthens Guaido's leadership internally", said Luis Vicente Leon, a political analyst and director of the Datanalisis polling agency.

However, Maduro is not showing any signs of caving, even as he grows more isolated internationally and lashes out at the European Union and the Trump administration, which has imposed billions in sanctions on Venezuela's oil exports and demanded Maduro's departure.

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