UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the political crisis in Venezuela. The European Union as a whole says it could recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezeula’s leader if the government doesn’t announce new elections within the coming days.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement Saturday that the European bloc would intensify contacts with international partners “in the coming hours” on Venezuela’s crisis.
The EU urgently called for new elections, saying Venezuela’s presidential vote last year was not democratic.
Mogherini said “in the absence of an announcement on the organization of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership.”
Earlier Saturday, France, Germany, Britain and Spain set an eight-day deadline for calling electiondsfor recognizing Guaido’s leadership.
The Europeans’ position opens a new front in their tensions with Russia, which strongly supports Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Britain has become the latest European power to say it will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president unless the government calls new presidential elections.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday Britain will recognize Guaido unless the government of President Nicolas Maduro makes an announcement about new elections within eight days.
Germany, France and Spain made similar announcements Saturday.
Hunt complained in a tweet that Maduro’s election was marred by “banning opposition candidates, ballot box stuffing and counting irregularities in a deeply flawed election”
He said “it is clear Nicolas Maduro is not the legitimate leader of Venezuela.”
Guaido is the head of the congress, which does not recognize Maduro’s re-election last year as legitimate.
The United Nations Security Council is discussing the crisis in Venezuela.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging all nations to support the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from what he calls Nicolas Maduro’s “illegitimate mafia state.” Pompeo says they should back congressional leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
America’s top diplomat told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday that “the humanitarian situation demands action now.”
He said nine out of 10 Venezuelan citizens live in poverty and 3 million have been forced to flee their homeland. He said that has threatened international peace and security.”
Pompeo accused Russia and China of trying “to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits … in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years.”
But Pompeo said no country has done more to sustain “the nightmarish condition of the Venezuelan people” than Cuba, which he said has sent “security and intelligence thugs” to back Maduro.
He said it’s the time for nations to pick a side. In his words, “Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”
The United States has barely survived a procedural vote to go ahead with a U.N. Security Council meeting it called on the crisis in Venezuela.
The U.S. received the minimum nine “yes” votes to hold Saturday’s meeting on the situation in Venezuela, with four countries voting “no” and two abstaining.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia opposed the meeting, saying Venezuela does not represent a threat to international peace and security.
Instead, he said, the country is facing a U.S. effort “to attempt a coup d’etat in the country.”
Nebenzia said the meeting should be held under a council agenda item on “threats to international peace and security” — which he said the U.S. poses with its attempt at intervention.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo countered that Nicolas Maduro has repressed the Venezuelan people as president, left them starving and fleeing the country.
He said opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the U.S. has recognized as president, has promised elections and the long-delayed council discussion cannot be delayed again.
Germany has joined France and Spain in saying it will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela if President Nicolas Maduro’s government doesn’t hold new presidential elections.
A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel tweeted Saturday that, “the people of Venezuela must be able to freely and securely decide about its future.”
The French president and Spain’s prime minister made a similar announcement.
The United Nations Security Council is meeting later Saturday to discuss the situation in Venezuela after Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela on Wednesday, setting off a standoff with Maduro.
Guaido is head of the congress, which considers Maduro’s re-election last year invalid. The United States and several other countries immediately recognized Guaido as president, while Maduro accuses opponents of staging a coup.
President Emmanuel Macron says France is ready to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s “president in charge” if no elections are held within eight days.
Macron tweeted Saturday in French and Spanish that “the Venezuelan people should be able to freely decide their future.” He said France is working with European partners to encourage a “political process” that would solve Venezuela’s leadership crisis.
Spain’s prime minister made a similar announcement Saturday.
The United Nations Security Council is meeting later Saturday to discuss Venezuela after Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela on Wednesday, setting off a standoff with President Nicolas Maduro. The United States and other countries immediately recognized Guaido as president, while Maduro accuses opponents of staging a coup.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says that unless Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro calls for new elections within eight days Spain will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of the South American country.
Sanchez says on Saturday that “Spain is giving the government of Nicolas Maduro eight days to convoke free, transparent and democratic elections, and if that does not occur, Spain will recognize Juan Guaido as the president charged with carrying out said elections.”
Sanchez adds that as leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Guaido is “the person who should lead the transition to free elections.”
Sanchez says that his government wants the other 27 members of the European Union to back its position.
Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela on Wednesday, setting off a standoff with Maduro.
The United States and other countries immediately recognized Guaido as president.
Venezuela’s political showdown moves to the United Nations where a Security Council meeting called by the United States will pit backers of President Nicolas Maduro against the Trump administration and supporters of the country’s self-declared interim leader Juan Guaido.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to address Saturday’s meeting along with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and the other council members, which include supporters of both dueling 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.
In clashing press conferences, Guaido urged his followers to stage another mass protest next week, while Maduro pushed his call for dialogue.