Venezuelan military official breaks with Nicolas Maduro, backs opposition

Venezuelan military official breaks with Nicolas Maduro, backs opposition

Invoking constitutional provisions, National Assembly leader Guaido declared himself interim president until there are new elections.

Both sides attempted dialogue a year ago, but it fell apart as Maduro pushed forward with an early election that Venezuela's most popular opposition leaders were barred from running in.

Maduro has come under increasing pressure to call democratic elections for Venezuela, and now faces an "international ultimatem", demanding that he call elections "within eight days", according to Reuters, as a number of powerful countries now recognize Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

"They sabotage us and try to destroy the economic system", Maduro said, expressing confidence that "Venezuela will overcome this coup, and no imperial power will break the moral resistance of the people". No more delays, no more games. China has provided more than $62 billion, mostly in loans, to Venezuela since 2007 and it's paid back in crude.

The latest development comes as European powers signaled they were ready to follow the United States in recognizing National Assembly President Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader.

Some US embassy staff left Caracas on Friday, and Venezuela was withdrawing staff from Washington on Saturday, Venezuela's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia's UN Ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, rejected that view, saying the United States was imposing its own "approaches and recipes" to resolve the problems on the ground in Venezuela.

China said it is opposed to any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and called for the peaceful solution of the crisis. He gave USA diplomats three days to leave the county - but the Trump administration said it wouldn't obey. "Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem", Pompeo told the council.

In addition to his studies, Mesa also volunteers at a clothing donation facility that helps Venezuelan newcomers, just as he was helped when he fled from neighbouring country.

On Saturday, Venezuelan military attache in Washington Col. Jose Luis Silva called on the global community to recognise Juan Guaido, who declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, as the country's new head of state.

However, at a political rally on Saturday, Cabello said he had recordings of the conversation in the meeting, saying Guaido had asked him to support new elections.

"Our nations must stand up for the rule of law and support the leader who the Venezuelan people have affirmed as their legitimate interim president", Mr Pompeo said.

Minister Jorge Arreaza told the council that despite Washington's intervention and tweets from Secretary Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence that he said incited and support the opposition and urge security forces to defect from Maduro, his government is still willing to talk to Washington.

The first major military officer to publicly switch his support to Guaido was Venezuela's military attache in Washington, Army Colonel Jose Luis Silva.

Pompeo urged nations to end financial transactions with Maduro's government, which has struggled to pay bills despite the country's oil wealth.

Lederer reported from the United Nations.

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