Maduro proposes early parliamentary elections in Venezuela

An anti-Maduro rally was also held in the Spanish city of Barcelona, with some 1,500 people, many of them Venezuelan immigrants, attending the event.

In signs that Maduro could be losing his grip on Venezuela's powerful military, General Francisco Yanez of the air force's high command said the armed forces have already disavowed the president.

He told Pence and other elected officials that aid efforts need to begin immediately.

Similar talks in the past have failed, and opposition leaders have said Maduro uses them to stall for time.

"(U.S. President Donald) Trump is imposing measures because he is the dictator of the world and thinks we are his slaves".

The Kremlin will look at a message from the Venezuelan opposition leader when it arrives, but this does not mean Russia recognizes him as the country's president, said Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday.

In his speech, the self-proclaimed president decried Maduro as an "usurper".

Guaido was recognized as interim president by the Lima Group countries (except for Mexico), as well as by Albania, Georgia, the United States, and the Organization of American States. "They're not going to succeed in intimidating this Venezuelan family".

"This is no time for dialogue", Pence said at a church, prompting loud cheers from the Venezuelan exiles.

The military's support is crucial for the embattled Maduro, who is deeply unpopular largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions, but claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.

Later Friday, Bolton tweeted that Washington would send humanitarian aid to Venezuela despite Maduro's refusal to accept such assistance.

Francisco Sucre heads the worldwide committee of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela.

The government called for a mass rally Thursday to denounce USA sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company that could starve Maduro's government of billions in export revenue but turnout was no more than a few hundred people.

Meanwhile, streams of marchers from middle-class and poor neighbourhoods walked to another part of the capital and said they were demanding Maduro's resignation and a transitional government that would hold new presidential elections in the South American country.

One former National Security Council official, Jose Cardenas, said Putin's support for Maduro seeks to "create instability, and distract and tax United States resources in the United States' own sphere of influence".

In a brief phone conversation with The Associated Press the officer confirmed, from a Colombian number, the veracity of his declaration and said he would not provide further statements until given authorization by "the commander-in-chief of the legal armed force which is President Juan Guaido".

People listen as Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center after meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders on February 1, 2019 in Doral, Fla.

He said: "Power is evaporating from Maduro's hands with the passing of the hours".

The United States should pay in advance for any oil it buys as a result of the US sanctions on the Citgo refinery, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, Venezuela's oil minister said Thursday.

  • Jon Douglas