Venezuelan Military Attache to Washington Announces Break with Maduro

Andrew Cummings
January 28, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has renewed his calls for soldiers to abandon Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, speaking after a Mass honoring more than two dozen civilians who were killed in in anti-government protests.

On Sunday, Israel and Australia joined the countries backing the 35-year-old leader, and President Donald Trump's administration said it had accepted Venezuelan opposition figure Carlos Alfredo Vecchio as the country's diplomatic representative in the United States.

USA president Donald Trump and several foreign leaders quickly recognised Mr Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader, prompting Mr Maduro to cut ties with the United States and order its diplomats from Caracas within 72 hours.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday (Jan 27) rejected a European ultimatum that he call elections as opposition rival Juan Guaido stepped up appeals to the military to turn against the leftist government.

In his comments Sunday in Panama, Francis "asked the Lord to seek and find a just and peaceful solution to overcome the crisis, that respects human rights and exclusively seeks the good of all people".

The preferred outcome, Rubio said, is that Maduro leaves office and that within 30 to 45 days, Venezuela holds a new presidential election.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan voiced his support for Maduro in a phone call on Thursday.

Following Trump's recognition of Guaido as president of the country on Wednesday, Maduro had quickly shot back, cutting off diplomatic relations with Washington and giving USA diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

The opposition leader also said he would consider amnesty for Mr Maduro and his allies if they don't hamper his ascension to temporary power. China has provided more than $62 billion, mostly in loans, to Venezuela since 2007 and it's paid back in crude. Washington has signalled it was ready to step up economic measures to try to drive Maduro from power, but on Saturday Pompeo declined to elaborate on any such plans. The former union leader cruised to victory after blocking the main opposition candidates from running.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza rejected the ultimatum.

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

"We welcome him and everyone who with honesty want to follow the constitution and the will of the Venezuelan people", he said on social media.

Pompeo was accompanied to NY by Elliott Abrams, who was named a day earlier as the US special representative for Venezuela.

The United States has condemned last year's Venezuelan election, in which Maduro won another term, as a charade that was neither free or fair.

Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated for a second term on January 10.

"I'm so happy that they are supporting us and standing with us".

"The government is going to strangle us even more with their bad decisions and shamelessness", Pineda said while sharing a bowl of beef soup with two friends, none of whom can afford the $1.50 meal on their own. That set the stage for a showdown at the hilltop U.S. Embassy compound Saturday night, when the deadline was to expire.

Cuba's U.N. Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez went further, rejecting "the deliberate" and "fake news" cast on the country not only by Pompeo but by Elliot Abrams, the new chief of USA policy on Venezuela who sat in the council after the secretary of state left.

Other reports by iNewsToday