Venezuela has plunged further into political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader.
Image shows Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro
Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognize.
On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.
Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in before his supporters, US President Donald Trump publicly recognized him as the country’s interim president. In response, Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States and gave US diplomats 72 hours to get out of his country.
Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.
“I had a phone call with President of Russia Vladimir Putin, with whom I spoke for about 20 minutes, President Putin always expressing his solidarity with Venezuela,” President Maduro said.
“The US is leading a major provocation against Venezuela,” he explained.
“I believe that in the world there is no doubt that it is Donald Trump himself who wishes to impose a defacto… government.. in Venezuela, against the people and against democracy.”
“Donald Trump with his insanity of thinking that he is the policeman of the world, believing that he is the one in charge of Latin American and the Caribbean, it’s a major provocation.”
“[But] I tell you President Putin , just as I told to people yesterday… everyone to work, everything will work, and the country continues to go forward, and the government continues to govern,” he added.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court members applauded and pledged their unwavering support for President Maduro.
The US has called for a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, the US mission to the United Nations said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to attend the open meeting requested for Saturday, diplomats said. Trump’s government is seeking to ensure that Venezuelan oil revenue goes to opposition leader Juan Guaido, and to cut off money from President Nicolas Maduro, national security advisor John Bolton said on Thursday.
The announcement signals that Washington is willing to go beyond traditional diplomatic measures and will seek to starve Maduro’s government of revenue as his administration is already struggling with unpaid bills and creditors demanding payment.
“What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the sources of his revenues,” Bolton told reporters at the White House, adding that the process was “very complicated”. “Officials were still studying how this would function.”