Canada announces $53-million in aid for Venezuela and refugees

Minnie Murray
February 5, 2019

Britain, France, Spain and Germany were among 15 European nations to officially recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuela's "interim president", in move which was swiftly denounced by Nicolas Maduro as a "gringo plot to overthrow the revolution".

Some of the EU countries backing Guaido are part of a newly formed "International Contact Group" of eight European and four Latin American nations.

In January, the U.S. recognised Juan Guaido as the "legitimate" head of the country, handing him control of the country's assets in the US.

Maduro's government, overseeing an economic collapse that has prompted 3 million Venezuelans to flee the country, lashed out at the European Union nations, saying their move would affect relations with Caracas.

"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.

Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Lithuania admitted they share the same views as their allies.

Guaido is trying to force from power the socialist leader - labelled a dictator by the West and his Latin American neighbors after presiding over Venezuela's economic collapse - aiming to set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections.

Venezuela will reconsider its bilateral relations with European countries which recognised Guaido, said the government, which has already broken off diplomatic relations with the U.S.

President Maduro, 56, a former union leader, bus driver and foreign minister, replaced ex-president Hugo Chavez in 2013 after his death from cancer.

After several years of opposition efforts to oust Maduro, Guaido declared himself acting president at a rally on January 23. "Faced with President Maduro's refusal to organize presidential elections which would clarify, calm the situation in Venezuela. we consider that Mr. Guaido has the capacity and legitimacy to organize these elections".

"Soldiers, we continue to wait for you".

Meanwhile, the opposition was moving ahead with a risky strategy to bring in humanitarian aid from Colombia, hoping to break the all-important military's loyalty to Maduro.

However, as President Maduro still controls Venezuelan ports of entry, Mr Guaido has called on forces to allow the entry of the aid to the country.

The 35-year-old Guaido, head of the country's National Assembly, has breathed new life into a previously fractured and tired opposition.

It remained unclear how Guaido could fund and operate an interim presidency with Maduro refusing to budge. "With ministers Néstor Ruiz Reverol and Aristóbulo Istúriz [minister of Education and vice president for social affairs], we said goodbye to the crew". The United States wants Maduro gone, as do other key Western nations.

Freeland smiled and remarked that protesting was a right guaranteed by the constitution in Canada, one that "I am sad to say political protesters in Venezuela do not (have)". "A lot of those problems are a result of precisely of the economic sanctions levied against Venezuela and the fact that we've seen oil prices crash globally", he said.

Maduro denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis, calling it a fabrication by Venezuela's enemies to sow instability and justify a military intervention.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was available to facilitate negotiations between the rival sides in Venezuela.

Under anti-U.S. populist leader Hugo Chavez, Mr. Maduro's late predecessor and political mentor, Russian Federation became one of Venezuela's strongest allies with economic ties including crude oil, loans and arms sales.

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