Pompeo confronts U.N. Security Council on Venezuela

Elliott Abrams listens to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talk about Venezuela at the State Department in Washington on Jan. 25 2019

Elliott Abrams listens to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talk about Venezuela at the State Department in Washington on Jan. 25 2019

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo took the US effort to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader to the United Nations, part of a broader campaign to replace President Nicolas Maduro, and said the choice is between freedom and mayhem.

"Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not", Arreaza said.

On Saturday, Guaido celebrated the support of European countries and asked them to send humanitarian aid to help relieve the economic crisis.

After Washington's declaration of support for Guaido, Maduro cut off diplomatic relations with the United States on Wednesday and gave US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. It called for a move "over the next days" toward new elections in Venezuela and entertained the idea of recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's leader if new elections are not announced. This would include "the issue of recognition of the country's leadership".

With mounting protests over Venezuela's crisis in which more than two million have fled shortages of basic food and medicine, Pompeo asked all nations to follow the United States in recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president.

Sanchez insisted that Spain, which has some 200,000 of its nationals living in Venezuela, is "not looking to impose or remove governments in Venezuela, we want democracy and free elections in Venezuela".

Russian Federation also said military intervention in Venezuela should be avoided at any cost, while Caracas reiterated that its offer of dialogue with President Donald Trump's government was still on the table despite his administration's two-year campaign against Maduro.

Also on Twitter, German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz used almost identical language, adding "complete security" as a necessary condition for elections.

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While many countries have already recognized Venezuela National Assembly leader Juan Guaido as the country's legitimate president, Europe has been holding out.

"@jguaido is the right person to take Venezuela forward", he said in a tweet.

Spain had wanted the European Union to take a tough line on Maduro by calling for immediate elections, failing which the bloc as a whole would recognise Guaido, the 35-year-old head of Venezuela's National Assembly.

Many US journalists and observers - even those supportive of regime change in Venezuela such as MSNBC's Chris Hayes - were appalled by the news as well, recalling the former diplomat's dark history in Latin America.

"The people of Venezuela must be able to freely and securely decide about its future", Merkel said, according to the Associated Press.

"In our opinion it is impossible to end the political deadlock and the very serious social crisis in Venezuela without free, transparent and credible elections", said Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva.

Greece's ruling party Syriza has publicly backed him, with party secretary Panos Skourletis voicing "full support and solidarity" to what to he called "the legal president".

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