Venezuelan showdown moves to UN as dueling presidents dig in

Venezuelan showdown moves to UN as dueling presidents dig in

United Nations, Jan 27: Venezuela’s political showdown moved to the United Nations where a Security Council meeting called by the United States pit backers of president Nicolas Maduro against the Trump administration and supporters of the country’s self-declared interim leader Juan Guaido.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the meeting ahead of Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza and other council members, which include supporters of both duelling presidents.
The session focusing on Venezuela’s crisis comes a day after Guaido vowed to remain on the streets until his country has a transitional government, while Maduro dug in and accused his opponents of orchestrating a coup.
“They can cut a flower, but they will never keep spring from coming,” Guaido told supporters, alluding to a similar phrase from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
In rival press conferences, Guaido urged his followers to stage another mass protest next week, while Maduro pushed his call for dialogue.
Each man appeared ready to defend his claim to the presidency no matter the cost, with Guaido telling supporters that if he is arrested they should “stay the course” and peacefully protest. But the standoff could set the scene for more violence and has plunged troubled Venezuela into a new chapter of political turmoil that rights groups say has already left more than two dozen dead as thousands take to the street demanding Maduro step down.
Guaido’s talk with reporters in a plaza in Caracas turned into a de facto rally as thousands gathered after hearing he would speak in public for the first time since taking a symbolic oath Wednesday proclaiming himself the nation’s constitutional leader on grounds that Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent.
The government of president Donald Trump announced it was recognising the 35-year-old leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly quickly after his oath, leading Maduro to say that he was breaking all diplomatic ties with the United States.
The leaders of France, Spain and Germany turned up the pressure on Maduro, saying they too would recognise Guaido unless Venezuela calls new presidential elections within eight days.
Guaido’s move is the most direct challenge to Maduro’s rule despite years of protests at home and international efforts to isolate the regime amid a growing humanitarian crisis fueled by falling oil prices and government mismanagement.
Maduro is accusing the opposition of working with the US to overthrow him. Though over a dozen nations as well as the Inter-American Development Bank are recognizing Guaido as president, Maduro still has the support of the military and powerful, longtime allies like Russia and China and is vowing to defend his socialist rule.