United Kingdom recognises Juan Guaido as interim President of Venezuela

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a two-day visit to Japan, said at a news conference that "we recognize Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela, tasked with starting the political transition and leading the country to free, transparent and credible elections".

The Lima group wrapped its meeting today with a 17-point declaration that included a call for the "national armed forces of Venezuela to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president in his constitutional functions as their commander in chief".

"We are not beggars", he said on Venezuelan state TV.

"If someday there'll be a coup; if there'll be a United States intervention of Venezuela, then, Senior Pedro Sanchez, your hands will be stained in blood forever and history will remember you as a puppet in service of Donald Trump's policy of interference", President Maduro said in an address, broadcast live on his Twitter page. Those who continue to violate the human rights of ordinary Venezuelans under an illegitimate regime will be called to account.

All eyes are now on Venezuela's military, which has so far been Maduro's main pillar of support, but there have been signs of unrest in the ranks.

Italy blocked a draft European Union statement that would have made it clear that recognition was a national prerogative. Although Washington has broached the idea of an oil embargo on Venezuela, the Lima Group looked set to hold off imposing more sanctions, sources briefed on the matter said. In a statement, it accused them of submitting to a US "strategy to overthrow the legitimate government" and singled out Spain for acting "cowardly".

China: Venezuela's biggest creditor, with some $20 billion dollars owed, says it opposes "external interference" by those who have recognized Guaido as leader.

Defying European pressure, Maduro shrugged off an ultimatum by EU states demanding early elections.

Key European leaders have overwhelmingly backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

Russian Federation and China, who have poured billions of dollars of investment and loans into Venezuela, are supporting Mr Maduro in an extension of their geopolitical tussle with the United States.

In an interview that aired Monday with Italy's Sky TG24 he said that he had written Pope Francis asking for help in fostering dialogue with the opposition.

Opposition demonstrators take part in a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, called by opposition leader and self-proclaimed "acting president" Juan Guaido, near Parque Cristal in Caracas, Venezuela on January 30, 2019.

Such intervention "does not contribute in any way to a peaceful, effective and vital settlement to the crisis that Venezuelans are enduring", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.

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. "It would mean opening the road to a military intervention", Alessandro Di Battista, a prominent 5-Star figure, said Sunday.

He added that "no one imposes an ultimatum on Venezuela".

Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left the country suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

What started as a trickle has turned into a flow of European Union countries who have now officially declared Guaido as interim president.

  • Jon Douglas