The president of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, on Wednesday has declared himself interim president of the country with the United States subsequently recognizing him and urging President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected last year, to step down.
At a mass rally in Caracas, Juan Guaido, the president of the disempowered National Assembly, declared himself the country’s interim president.
Just minutes after Guaido’s declaration, US President Donald Trump has stated that Washington recognizes him as the legitimate head of Venezuela.
“We continue to hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people”, Trump said.
Later, when asked if he was considering sending the US military to the country, the US president told reporters at the White House that all options were on the table for Venezuela.
“We’re not considering anything, but all options are on the table”, Trump said.
The United States has promised to take action against President Maduro and his supporters if they attempt to harm members of the National Assembly or other opposition officials.
Maduru Cuts Ties with US
Maduro responded by saying he was cutting off diplomatic ties with Washington, as his riot police clashed with opposition supporters in Caracas.
“Get Out! Leave Venezuela. Here we have dignity, damn it,” Maduro said, giving US diplomats 72 hours to depart.
But Guaido tweeted in response that, under him, Venezuela wants countries “to maintain their diplomatic presence in our country”.
And the US State Department said “former president Maduro” did not have the authority to sever relations.
Support to Guaido
Eleven members of the 14-nation Lima Group — Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru — later issued a joint statement endorsing Guaido as interim president.
The European Union did not join the countries lining up behind Guaido but called for “free and credible elections”.
“The EU strongly calls for the start of an immediate political process leading to free and credible elections, in conformity with the constitutional order,” the bloc’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
The bloc and its member states “remain ready to support the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Venezuela through a credible peaceful political process in line with the Venezuelan constitution”, she added.
And EU Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that “I hope that all of Europe will unite in support of democratic forces in Venezuela”.
He added: “Unlike Maduro, the parliamentary assembly, including Juan Guaido have a democratic mandate from Venezuelan citizens.”
‘Firm’ Solidarity with Maduro
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that Cuba fully supports Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro amid attempts “to stage a coup d’etat” in the Bolivarian Republic.
“Firm support and solidarity of Cuba with constitutional President Nicolas Maduro in light of coup attempts”, Rodriguez said on Twitter.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that current events in Venezuela show the real attitude of the West toward international law and the sovereignty of other states.
“The events in Venezuela clearly demonstrate the real attitude of the progressive Western community toward international law, sovereignty and non-interference in domestic affairs of states by manually changing power there”, Zakharova said on Facebook.
Additionally, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Mexico continues to recognize the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“Based on our constitutional principles of non-interference, self-determination of peoples, peaceful resolution of international disagreements… Mexico will not participate in the non-recognition of the government of the country which it has diplomatic relationship with”, the statement read.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also expressed support for his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Thursday.
“Our president called Venezuelan President Maduro, conveyed to him Turkey’s support”, Kalin said on Twitter.