Venezuelan Dictator Nicolás Maduro Appeals to Pope Francis for Support

Feb 05, 2019, 01:09
Venezuelan Dictator Nicolás Maduro Appeals to Pope Francis for Support

Italy does not recognize the result of Venezuela's presidential election last May, which Maduro won, and wants new elections as soon as possible, Italy's foreign minister told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

The Lima group wrapped its meeting today with a 17-point declaration that included a call for the "national armed forces of Venezuela to demonstrate their loyalty to the interim president in his constitutional functions as their commander in chief".

Some EU members are nervous about setting a precedent of recognising a self-proclaimed leader.

"The global community's goal should be to help (Venezuela), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders", Alexander Shchetinin, head of the Latin America department at Russia's Foreign Ministry, told Interfax.

"If someday there'll be a coup; if there'll be a U.S. intervention of Venezuela, then, Senior Pedro Sanchez, your hands will be stained in blood forever and history will remember you as a puppet in service of Donald Trump's policy of interference", President Maduro said in an address, broadcast live on his Twitter page. "You are making mistakes that will leave your hands covered in blood and you will leave the presidency stained with blood", President Maduro said. Those who continue to violate the human rights of ordinary Venezuelans under an illegitimate regime will be called to account.

Two opposition rivals with a good chance of winning were barred from standing, while food handouts and other subsidies to hungry Venezuelans were linked with political support. As the European Union made clear in its statement of 26 January and in Bucharest on 31 January, the window for dialogue remains open.

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"Venezuela has to be the master of its own destiny, and it is up to the global community to help and respect the outcome of the democratic process and verify that it takes place with all necessary guarantees", he said. In a statement, it accused them of submitting to a USA "strategy to overthrow the legitimate government" and singled out Spain for acting "cowardly".

Guaido's backers say he is the legitimate leader because he is president of Venezuela's congress, which they regard as the only lawfully elected power in the country.

Among other European Union nations recognising Guaido were: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Poland, Portugal and Sweden.

Maduro and Guaido have been battling for legitimacy in a struggle that has drawn in the world's major powers on one side or the other.

"I told him that I serve Christ's cause... and in this spirit I asked for his help, in a process of facilitating and strengthening dialogue", said Maduro, who has rejected calls for snap presidential elections.

"They gave us an ultimatum, as if Venezuela was being governed from Madrid", said Maduro, who was addressing troops Monday on the 27th anniversary of the failed military uprising that thrust his political mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, onto the national stage.

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Critics of Maduro blame the Venezuelan government's mismanagement for the lack of food and medical supplies.

The Vatican didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Maduro's appeal. Trump, in an interview that aired on Sunday, said military intervention in Venezuela was "an option". Recently, while in Central America, Francis called for a "just and peaceful" solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

Over the weekend, he called on the army to allow in humanitarian aid from the United States via neighboring Colombia and Brazil.

Mr Guaido, who leads the National Assembly, declared himself caretaker leader last month in a move splitting global powers and bringing Venezuelans onto the streets.

Maduro, for his part, stood defiant, accusing the United States of preparing a coup in the South American country and rejecting a USA -backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into his country.

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