CARACAS, February 5. /TASS/. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Monday received major support from the leading European Union’s member-states. Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic recognized him as the interim president of the South American country. However, the EU failed to agree on a common stance over Italy’s position.
Caracas lambasted the European countries’ decision, accusing them of siding with the US administration’s strategy on toppling the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro, whom the Venezuelan people had elected in a sovereign, free and democratic way. Venezuela’s authorities have vowed to "fully reconsider" relations with the countries, which supported Guaido.
Members of the Lima Group, which brings together the majority of large American states, at a meeting in Canada’s capital called for a peaceful transfer of power in Venezuela. Eleven out of 14 countries of the Lima Group (except for Mexico, Guyana and Saint Lucia) have called on the Venezuelan military to show loyalty to Guaido.
On February 3, US President Donald Trump did not rule out plans of deploying US troops to Venezuela. In his turn, Maduro has called on the Venezuelan people to oppose the US government’s threats of using military force. "Since next Wednesday signatures will start being collected throughout the country, which will be handed over to the White House to repel these threats," he said. This procedure will take place "at each Bolivar’s square, in each barrack, at each school and plant," he said, stressing that Venezuela does not want a US intervention, but it needs peace and independence.
Over the past years, Venezuela has been undergoing a deep social and economic crisis. Since its victory in the December 2015 parliamentary polls, the opposition has been calling on the government to open the channels for sending foreign humanitarian assistance but the authorities rejected this step apparently for political reasons.
Now Maduro’s opponents are close to bringing medicine and food to the country from abroad. According to Guaido, three centers for receiving humanitarian assistance will be set up in Colombia’s border town of Cucuta, on the border with Brazil and on an island in the Caribbean Sea. The opposition leader claimed that at the first stage this aid would save the lives of more than 250,000 Venezuelans, who are on the verge of death.
Maduro has condemned the opposition’s initiative on humanitarian aid. "Venezuela should not be given false promises [on handing over] the so-called humanitarian assistance. Venezuela should be encouraged for work, production and economic growth," he stressed.
The president has urged Western states to remove sanctions on the South American country instead of sending humanitarian aid there if they want to help Venezuelans. He reiterated that the priority goal for the government was to restore economy in Venezuela, where annual inflation rate has surged to 1.7 mln percent.
Opposition calls on army to decide
The support of the country’s Armed Forces is becoming more crucial for Maduro, whose legitimacy at the international level is declining. Guaido said in a couple of days the troops will get a chance to decide "whether they are on the side of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, who need food and medicine, or they support the one who is becoming lonely." However, the politician has ruled out a civil war in Venezuela calling this Maduro’s ‘farce.’.