Venezuela's Guaido tells Maduro pressure 'just beginning'

Opposition protesters scuffle with police as Venezuelas lights flicker

Opposition protesters scuffle with police as Venezuelas lights flicker

Now, self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, has returned to the country to renew his campaign to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

"We'll do it for Chavez, for the great history of the country", he said.

Guaido vowed Tuesday to increase pressure on Maduro, who in turn promised to crush a "crazed minority" that wants to remove him from power.

"We are going to defeat them, be absolutely sure", he stressed.

Venezuela is wracked by a humanitarian crisis that has seen poverty soar, with an estimated 2.7 million people leaving the country since 2015.

The opposition is also seeking to capitalize on momentum spurred by Guaido's triumphant return to Venezuela on Monday to press for an end to Maduro's rule.

"The crazed minority continues in their bitterness".

Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him.

Once unknown, the 35-year-old has now gained the support of many Venezuelans and 65 foreign countries, including the U.S., Canada and U.K. He returned to Venezuela Monday after a trip overseas to rally support from the worldwide community.

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Still, while thousands of Venezuelans heeded Guaido's call for protests coinciding with his return, many worry the government might crack down on the opposition as it has in the past, jailing or driving into exile top opposition leaders.

The pressure is just beginning.

The socialist government had kept unusually silent since Guaido landed, with no top officials commenting until Maduro spoke at the ceremony, held at the military barracks where Chavez launched a failed 1992 coup.

"In every democratic transition in Latin America there are negotiations, but I just would say it is extremely hard to see how he could play a positive role in a democratic election", Mr Abrams said.

Mr Maduro also pinned medals on members of the security forces involved in a crackdown on Mr Guaido's failed February 23 attempt to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela from Brazil and Colombia.

Maduro accuses Guaido of leading a coup, orchestrated by the USA government, and has said he will "face justice". Abrams reportedly called on "Maurer" to block the Venezuelan government's assets in a nonexistent Swiss bank that the prank callers mentioned.

After failing to undermine the loyalty of the Venezuelan army, the self-proclaimed "interim president" targeted one of Maduro's key support bases in the public sector and is now in talks with trade unions about staging massive strikes by state workers.

The opposition-dominated National Assembly, which Guaido heads, will meanwhile start meeting public sector employees on Wednesday, he tweeted.

The United States and some 50 other countries have recognised Mr Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and have urged Mr Maduro, who is backed by Russian Federation, to resign so the country can prepare for elections.

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