EU is calling for the country to hold fresh elections while the US and its allies have already recognised Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's interim president.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally in support of his government in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a rally in support of his government in Caracas, Venezuela January 23, 2019. (Reuters)

Thursday, February 21 

President Nicolas Maduro said Venezuela would shut its border with Brazil on Thursday “until further notice” amid a tense standoff with opposition leader Juan Guaido over allowing in humanitarian aid. 

Maduro said the land border with Brazil would be “completely and absolutely” closed from 8:00 pm (0000 GMT) “until further notice,” following a meeting with the military high command.

He said on state television that he was also considering a closure of the country’s border with Colombia

Guaido heads to Colombia border

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido made plans to head for the border with Colombia to personally bring in US-supplied food and medicine in defiance of the military-backed government, raising fears of possible weekend confrontations. 

Guaido, who has set a Saturday deadline for bringing in the aid, planned to depart at 6am local time on Thursday in a caravan of buses with members of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, forcing a high-stakes showdown with President Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela's deputy UN military attache backs Guaido

Venezuela's deputy UN military attache, Colonel Pedro Chirinos, said in a video on social media that he recognised Guaido as the country's interim president, increasing pressure on Maduro.

US President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton highlighted Chirinos' announcement in a note posted on Twitter on Wednesday but misidentified him as the military attache to the United Nations.

Wednesday, February 20

Opposition ambassador takes control of Costa Rica embassy

Guiado's designated ambassador to Costa Rica took control of Venezuela's embassy in the Central American country.

On February 15, the Costa Rican government gave Venezuelan Maduro's representatives 60 days to leave the country.

"We have come to the embassy to move forward with the transition process," Guiado's representative in Costa Rica Maria Faria's office said in a statement.

The office said Faria was working with a team of auditors and legal advisers to ensure an orderly transition. It was not immediately clear how her team obtained access to the embassy.

Despite recognising Faria as Venezuela's legitimate ambassador, the Costa Rican foreign ministry criticised her for taking possession of the embassy before the deadline, saying it would send a diplomatic note.

Maduro's foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, also criticized the move.

'Leave the kids alone'

Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters hit out at Richard Branson over his humanitarian aid concert for Venezuelans suffering from shortages of food and medicines.

Branson's fundraising concert in Colombia on Friday will feature stars such as former Genesis singer Peter Gabriel to raise "$100 million" for "those millions that need it the most."

But Waters said Branson had been fooled by a US "shtick."

"It has nothing to do with the needs of the Venezuelan people, it has nothing to do with democracy, it has nothing to do with freedom, and it has nothing to do with aid," said the British singer-songwriter in a Twitter video that was shown on Venezuelan state television.

"Do we really want Venezuela to be turned into another Iraq, Syria or Libya? I don't, and neither do the Venezuelan people," said Waters.

Closure of air and sea borders

Venezuela has reportedly ordered the closure of its air and sea border with Curacao, a military commander said Tuesday, as the island planned to host a US aid shipment for Venezuela.

Meanwhile, a spokesman foR Juan Guaido, says Brazil will deliver humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border by February 23 together with the US at Guaido's request.

The spokesman said in a news conference that Guaido will organise distribution of aid from the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista across the border in trucks driven by Venezuelan citizens.

Tuesday, February 19

Cuba denies control over Venezuelan forces

Cuba denied it has security forces in Venezuela and charged the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign of lies paving the way for military intervention in the South American country.

Trump and members of the administration have charged that Cuba’s security forces and military control Venezuela’s and that troops are also on the ground there.

“Our government categorically and energetically rejects this slander,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a Havana press conference, adding all of the some 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela were civilians, most health professionals.

Rodriguez called on the US administration to produce proof.

"There is a big political and communications campaign underway which are usually the prelude to larger actions by this government," Rodriguez said.

Communist-run Cuba has been a key backer of the Venezuelan government since the Bolivarian Revolution that began under former leader Hugo Chavez in 1998.

'Military on alert'

Venezuela’s powerful armed forces said on Tuesday they were on “alert” for any border violations following threats by US Trump that they could “lose everything” if they don’t switch sides and back Guaido. 

Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino reiterated the military’s “unrestricted obedience, subordination and loyalty” to Nicolas Maduro, whose authority has been challenged by self-declared acting president Guaido.

Maduro says Trump's speech 'Nazi-style'

Maduro rejected Trump's call for a new day in Venezuela and comparing the tone of the American president's speech in Miami to that of a Nazi.

Maduro responded to Trump in comments broadcast on state television. He accused the US president of speaking in an "almost Nazi style" and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela's military.

Maduro said, "Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?" and added, "They think they're the owners of the country."

Monday, February 18

Trump says military risking lives and future

Trump urged Venezuela's military to accept Guaido's amnesty offer, or stand to "lose everything."

"Today, I have a message for every official who is helping to keep [President Nicolas] Maduro in place. The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day and every day in the future," Trump told supporters in Miami.

"You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you. You can choose to accept (self-declared acting) president Guaido's generous offer of amnesty to live your life in peace with your families and your countrymen.

"Or you can choose the second path: continuing to support Maduro. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything."

Maduro government announces border concert

Venezuela's government has announced it will host a two-day concert near the border between Colombia and Venezuela on the day the opposition is preparing to distribute humanitarian aid.

Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez on Monday said the concert is scheduled to for February 22 and February 23.

"We had to dedicate two days for the realisation of the immense concert," the minister said.

The concerts will be held at the Simon Bolivar international bridge, on the border of Venezuela with Colombia.

The concert is meant to rival another concert that's being thrown by billionaire Richard Branson.

Branson has said he hopes the concert he's throwing to rally humanitarian aid for Venezuela will help draw global attention and save lives by raising funds for "much-needed medical help" for the crisis-torn country.

Sunday, February 17

Marco Rubio warns Venezuelan soldiers to let aid enter

Senator Marco Rubio visited a border staging point for US aid to Venezuela on Sunday and warned soldiers loyal to Maduro that it will be a "crime against humanity" if they block entry of the goods that are being channelled through Maduro's rivals.

An enthusiastic throng of Venezuelan migrants, some chanting "Rubio! Liberty," met the Florida Republican as he visited the Colombian city of Cucuta and held a news conference in sight of a border bridge that has been flooded in recent months by people fleeing the hardships of Venezuela's hyperinflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.

Venezuela denies EU lawmakers entry 

Venezuela's government blocked five European lawmakers from entering the country, triggering an angry response by opposition leader Guaido who had invited the delegation.

"We are being expelled from Venezuela, our passports have been seized, they have not informed us of the reason for the expulsion," said Spanish Member of European Parliament (MEP) Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who led the group.

The other lawmakers were his compatriots Jose Ignacio Salafranca and Gabriel Mato Adrover, as well as Esther de Lange of the Netherlands and Paulo Rangel of Portugal.

All are members of the conservative European People's Party (PPE).

Guaido calls for 'million volunteers' in aid standoff

Venezuela's Guaido set a goal of enlisting a million volunteers within a week to confront a government blockade that has kept tons of humanitarian aid, most of it from the United States, from flowing into the country.

Guaido has given February 23 –– one month to the day after he proclaimed himself acting president –– as the date for a showdown over the aid with the government of Maduro.

Food supplies, hygiene kits and nutritional supplements have been stockpiled near the Venezuelan border in Cucuta, Colombia.

"Our principal task is to reach a million volunteers by February 23," Guaido said in a message to the 600,000 supporters who have signed up so far for the push to bring aid in.

"Venezuela is preparing for the humanitarian avalanche," Guaido said.

Saturday, February 16 

Aid touches down at border amid distribution uncertainty

A US military transport plane carrying humanitarian aid meant for Venezuelans landed in the Colombian border city of Cucuta on Saturday, where food and medicine is being stored amidst uncertainty over how and where aid will be distributed.

The shipment will be the second arrival of large-scale US and international aid for Venezuelans, many of whom have scant access to food and medicine, since opposition leader Guaido declared himself interim president in defiance of Maduro.

Guaido, who invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself the country's leader last month, arguing Maduro's 2018 re-election was a sham, has said aid will enter Venezuela on February 23.

Guaido calls for countrywide stir 

Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido on Saturday called for nationwide protests next week to support volunteers planning to travel to the border with Colombia to bring in US humanitarian aid.

“Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in,” Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

Friday, February 15

Maduro blasts US for 'stealing' billions and offering 'crumbs'

Venezuela president hit out at the United States on Friday for "stealing" billions of dollars and offering "crumbs" in return as humanitarian aid.

Tons of US aid is piling up in Colombia close to the border with Venezuela as opposition leader Guaido has vowed to defy Maduro's efforts to block the supplies from entering the country.

"It's a booby trap, they're putting on a show with rotten and contaminated food," said Maduro, speaking at an event in the southeastern town of Ciudad Bolivar.

"They've stolen $30 billion and are offering four crumbs of rotten food," added the beleaguered socialist leader, referring to the United States.

US military aircraft to deliver more aid to Venezuela border

The Trump administration is sending another large shipment of humanitarian aid to the Venezuelan border in Colombia, for the first time using US military aircraft, according to a State Department email sent to Congress.

The 250 tons of food supplies, hygiene kits and nutritional supplements will begin arriving on Saturday to the border city of Cucuta, where tons of boxes of emergency aid stamped with the US flag are already warehoused awaiting delivery into Venezuela.

Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor John Bolton says many in Maduro's inner circle have now begun to waiver.

US sanctions Maduro aides 

The US Treasury announced on Friday that it was imposing sanctions on five intelligence and security officials close to Maduro.

“Treasury continues to target officials who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress the Venezuelan people,” a Treasury statement read. 

Those targeted include Rafael Enrique Bastardo Mendoza, Manuel RicardoCristopher Figuera, Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala, Manuel Salvador Quevedo Fernandez and Hildemaro Jose Rodriguez Mucura. Quevedo Fernandez is Venezuela’s oil minister.

Thursday, February 14

$100 million pledged in aid

Twenty-five countries have pledged $100 million in aid to Venezuela, a top US official said, as the crisis-hit country's Supreme Court took aim at oil executives appointed by the opposition.

"Today, 25 countries, united at the OAS-hosted Conference on Humanitarian Assistance in Support of Venezuela pledged $100 million in humanitarian assistance," US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted.

According to David Smolanksy, coordinator of an OAS working group on migration and refugees from Venezuela, the money will go directly to aid collection centres set up on the borders with Colombia and Brazil and on the Caribbean island of Curazao.

Maduro invites Trump envoy to come to Venezuela

Maduro is inviting a US special envoy to come to Venezuela after revealing in an AP interview that his foreign minister recently held secret meetings with the US official in New York.

The second of two meetings took place four days after the envoy, Elliott Abrams, said the time for dialogue with Maduro's government had long passed.

Even while criticising Donald Trump's confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting the US president to resolve an impasse over his recognition of opponent Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader.

Maduro said he won't give up power and called the US humanitarian aid currently sitting on the border with Colombia mere "crumbs" after the US administration froze billions of dollars in Venezuela's assets.

Maduro said all Venezuela needs to rebound is for Trump to remove his "infected hand" from the country that sits atop the world's largest petroleum reserves

Venezuelan FM defends government

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced the formation of a group that believes the UN Charter's commitment to non-interference in another country's affairs is being violated, particularly in the South American nation.

Arreaza was surrounded by diplomats from 16 countries including Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Nicaragua.

In the next few days, Arreaza said the group "will begin a series of actions to raise awareness around the dangers that our peoples currently face," particularly in Venezuela.

He refused to disclose the actions being contemplated.

Arreaza also said all people "have the right to live without the threat of use of force and without the application of illegal, coercive, unilateral measures," referring to US sanctions.

Arreaza defended his country's president and vowed to counter actions against it in the UN.

"In Venezuela there's only government - the government of President Maduro - so no one can give deadlines, especially this man," Arreaza told reporters at the UN.

Wednesday, February 13

Trump to give speech on Venezuela

US President Trump will give a speech on Venezuela in Miami on Monday and voice support for Guaido, whom the United States considers the South American country's legitimate president, a White House official said on Wednesday.

Trump, who plans to spend this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, is to make remarks on Venezuela and "the dangers of socialism" at Florida International University in Miami, the official said.

Maduro slams Trump-Duque meeting

Maduro is calling a meeting between Trump and Colombian leader Ivan Duque a "feast of hate against Venezuela."

Trump and Duque met Wednesday in the Oval Office and said many countries want to help crisis-ridden Venezuela. Trump also said Maduro's refusal to accept humanitarian aid is a "terrible mistake" and hinted at future action by the US and its allies against Venezuela's socialist leader.

Maduro has blocked humanitarian aid from the US and other countries, saying it is part of an effort to oust him.

Congress prepares for PDVSA transition

Guaido says the Venezuelan congress appointed executives to a transitional board for its PDVSA state-owned oil company and its US subsidiaries, including Houston-based refiner Citgo.

Controlling the industry that is the backbone of the Venezuelan economy is key to the transitional government aspirations of Guaido.

But the country's refining capacity has partly declined because of poor maintenance and lack of skilled staff. That has left it reliant on Citgo to refine the oil and send gasoline back to Venezuela to meet domestic needs. 

The Netherlands to set up aid hub

The Netherlands says it will set up a humanitarian aid hub for crisis-torn Venezuela on its Caribbean island of Curacao.

Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Stef Blok said on Twitter Wednesday that the collection point will be launched in "close cooperation with Venezuelan interim-president Guaido and the United States."

Details weren't released.

Curacao is about 90 kilometres (55 miles) off the Venezuelan coast.

'Military intervention not an option'

Congress will not support US military intervention in Venezuela despite comments hinting at such involvement by Trump, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said on Wednesday. 

“I do worry about the president’s sabre-rattling, his hints that US military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: US military intervention is not an option,” US Representative Eliot Engel said at the opening a hearing on the volatile political situation in the OPEC nation.

Report of talks with Venezuela opposition "fake news" - China

China said a newspaper report that Chinese diplomats had held talks with Venezuela's political opposition to protect its investments in the Latin American country was "fake news".

The Wall Street Journal said the diplomats, concerned about oil projects in Venezuela and almost $20 billion that Caracas owes Beijing, had held talks in Washington with representatives of Guaido.

"In fact the report is false. It's fake news," Hua C hunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters when asked about the article.

Tuesday, February 12

US, Russia draft rival UN Venezuela resolutions

The United States and Russia have drafted rival UN resolutions on Venezuela, reflecting the Trump administration's support for Guaido and Moscow's backing for Maduro.

The US draft resolution, seen by AP , expresses "deep concern that the presidential elections of May 20, 2018 were neither free nor fair" and "calls for the immediate start of a political process leading to free, fair and credible presidential elections, with international electoral observation."

The Russian draft criticises "attempts to intervene" in Venezuelan domestic affairs, expresses "concern over the threats to use force" against the country, and calls for a peaceful resolution of the stalemate.

Neither draft resolution has been circulated to the UN Security Council. If they are, it is highly likely that both would be defeated — with the US and Russia using their vetoes if necessary.

Russia ready to help promote dialogue - TASS

Russia stands ready to facilitate the start of dialogue between Venezuela's government and opposition, TASS news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as saying.

Ryabkov also said Russia had made some proposals "to Venezuela" on settling the crisis in the country.

Also on Tuesday, Russia's FM Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call that Moscow is ready for consultations on Venezuela, and warned against US interference into Venezuela's internal affairs, a statement said.

Rival rallies in Venezuela 

Guaido said that humanitarian aid will enter Venezuela on February 23, to bring relief to people struggling with widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of opposition activists flooded the streets of Venezuela to demand the military allow in desperately-needed aid, as Maduro's supporters rallied against "imperialist intervention."

Guaido called the Youth Day demonstrations to honour people killed in anti-government rallies and press for the food and medicine to be brought into the economically-ravaged South American country.

Maduro meanwhile called a march of young leftists in the centre of Caracas denouncing foreign intervention in Venezuela's affairs and collecting signatures of people who reject Trump.

Venezuela for non-dollar trading bloc amid sanctions

Venezuela hopes to create a trade bloc consisting of China, India and Russia to help the South American country settle oil payments in currencies other than the dollar, its oil minister said.

The strife-torn country is looking for alternative payment methods to keep oil flowing to India, a crucial export market, especially after the United States imposed sanctions curbing the OPEC member's crude exports to the United States.

"We all can build one economy and that economy does not necessarily have to be within the dollar economy," Manuel Quevedu said, referring to China, Russia and India.

Quevedu, who on Monday said Caracas was open to barter trade with New Delhi, declined to disclose details on how he planned to do business with India.

"We are certainly not going to inform (regarding how we plan to do business) those who want to destroy our oil industry," he said on the sidelines of India's biennial Petrotech Conference.

Guaido says working to restore ties with Israel

Guaido said he was working to restore ties with Israel that Caracas cut off a decade ago in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel is among US-aligned powers that rallied to Guaido after he declared himself Venezuela's leader last month in a power struggle with Maduro, under whom the country has sunk into poverty.

"I am very happy to report that the process of stabilising relations with Israel is at its height," Guaido told the mass-circulation Israel Hayom daily in an interview.

A formal announcement on re-establishing ties and opening a new Venezuelan embassy in Israel would come "at the proper time".

Lavrov, Pompeo to discuss political turmoil

Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will discuss the situation in Venezuela by phone, Lavrov said.

Russia and the United States have backed opposing sides in the political turmoil in Venezuela. Washington has recognised Guaido as interim president, while Moscow continues to back Maduro, a staunch ally.

Protesters to ask Maduro to let aid in

Venezuela's opposition supporters will take to the streets nationwide on Tuesday to keep up the heat on embattled Maduro and to call on him to let humanitarian aid into the country where food and medicine shortages are rife.

"We will return to the streets ... to demand the entry of humanitarian aid that will save the lives of more than 300,000 Venezuelans that today are at risk of dying," Guaido told his 1.25 million Twitter followers late on Monday. 

"This is a time to unite and fight!"

Monday, February 11

Opposition delivers humanitarian aid - Guaido

Guaido said his team had delivered a first cargo of the humanitarian aid that has become a flashpoint in his tussle with Maduro, without specifying how it had received it.

Guaido, tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by stacks of white pots of vitamin and nutritional supplements. He did not say from where or whom they came.

"Today we delivered the first donation, or the first cargo of humanitarian aid, albeit on a small scale, because you know they have blocked the border for the time being," he said in televised remarks in Caracas.

Brazil to open aid storage centre – Guaido envoy

Venezuelan opposition envoy Maria Teresa Belandria was received as her country's official ambassador in Brazil on Monday, and said Brazil's government will provide all possible support to get humanitarian aid to the border.

Belandria told reporters several Brazilian government agencies will be involved in the aid operation, which would open up a second route for food and medicine to enter Venezuela after the main one in Colombia.

Belandria, a lawyer and international law expert, was appointed Venezuelan ambassador to Brazil by Guaido, who has been recognised by dozens of countries as the head of Venezuela's legitimate government instead of Maduro.

The envoy does not have access to the Venezuelan embassy facilities in Brasilia.

Venezuela hasn't asked for military assistance – Russian diplomat

A senior Russian diplomat said Venezuela hasn't asked Russia for military assistance amid the South American country's political crisis.

Alexander Shchetinin, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin America department, said that Moscow hasn't received any such request from Caracas, according to Russian news reports.

Asked to compare the situation in Venezuela to Syria, where Russia has waged a military campaign to shore up Bashar al Assad's regime, Shchetinin said "there is a big difference" between Syria and Venezuela but wouldn't elaborate.

The Russian diplomat strongly warned the US against making calls on the Venezuelan military to drop support for Maduro, saying it represented an "unthinkable meddling into foreign affairs of a sovereign nation."

Sunday, February 10

Military official drops allegiance to Maduro

An active-duty Venezuelan army colonel who is a military doctor has dropped his allegiance to Maduro, backing opposition leader Guaido instead.

Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez urged his fellow soldiers to help allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela. The shipment of US aid is currently in Cucuta, Colombia, on the border.

Maduro has vowed to prevent the aid from entering, labeling it a precursor of a US invasion.

A week ago, Air Force General Francisco Yanez also dropped his allegiance to Maduro. 

Saturday, February 9

US seeks UN draft resolution calling for Venezuela elections

The United States has shared with its UN Security Council allies a draft resolution calling for international aid to be delivered in Venezuela and for a presidential vote to take place.

While no date has yet been set for a vote on the American draft, and negotiations are ongoing, Russia is likely to use its veto power to block it as part of its support of Maduro's government, diplomats said.

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Saturday, expresses "full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela."

Friday, February 8

Maduro vows to block 'fake' aid 'spectacle'

Maduro vowed not to let in "fake" humanitarian aid from the United States requested by Guaido, which is being stockpiled at the border with Colombia.

"Venezuela won't allow the spectacle of fake humanitarian aid because we're no-one's beggars," Maduro said at a press conference.

Maduro also rejected what he called the "partisan and ideological nature" of the statement of the EU-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela although he said he remained open to dialogue.

Thursday, February 7

US aid for Venezuela arrives at Colombian border

Trucks carrying US aid for Venezuela arrived at its border with Colombia.

Several vehicles loaded with food and medicines rumbled into a collection centre on the Colombian side of the Tienditas border bridge, which remains blocked by Venezuelan troops.

Calling the aid delivery a 'cheap and bad show,' Maduro continues to refuse all humanitarian aid shipments.  

The 56-year-old has repeatedly accused the United States of fomenting a coup, and says the aid would open the way to allow a US military invasion.

US criticises dialogue attempts, revokes Venezuela visas

The United States said it was revoking visas of Venezuelan lawmakers seated by Maduro as it criticised European and Latin American countries for seeking dialogue with the embattled leader.

Elliot Adams, the US envoy to Venezuela, criticised the Contact Group and urged all countries to shut out Maduro and deal "solely" with Guaido.

Countries call on Maduro to hold free elections

In the Uruguay capital, at the first international forum to deal with the crisis, ministers from more than a dozen European and Latin American countries called on Maduro to hold "free" presidential elections.

The International Contact Group meeting in Montevideo said it was committed to finding a "peaceful, democratic" way out of the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido "without the use of force."

Following five hours of talks, the group announced it would send a technical mission to Venezuela to "establish the necessary guarantees for a credible electoral process, as soon as possible," and to allow in humanitarian aid.

Dozens of pro-Maduro supporters protested outside the meeting against US intervention in the country.

Russia says blocked from Venezuela talks in Uruguay

Russia said it had "counted on" being invited to an international dialogue in Montevideo on Venezuela's political crisis, but was told it could not participate.

European and Latin American envoys were set to gather in the Uruguayan capital on Thursday for the first meeting of a "Contact Group" with the goal of creating conditions for a peaceful political process.

"We were counting on Russia having possibility to get involved in the work that will take place in Montevideo today, at least as an observer state," deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told the RIA Novosti news agency. 

Wednesday, February 6

UN warns against politicising aid

The United Nations warned against using aid as a pawn in Venezuela after the United States sent food and medicine to the country's border and accused Maduro of blocking its delivery with trucks and shipping containers.

"Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

"When we see the present stand-off it becomes even more clear that serious political negotiations between the parties are necessary to find a solution leading to lasting peace for the people of Venezuela," he said.

Pompeo says Maduro must let in US aid

Pompeo demanded that Venezuela's military let in US-backed humanitarian aid, which Maduro has alleged is a pretext to invasion.

"The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The US and other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers," Pompeo tweeted.

"The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE," Pompeo tweeted, using capital letters for emphasis.

Guaido wants to send delegation to Italy

Guaido wants to send a delegation to Italy, where the government is one of few European Union countries not to have backed the self-proclaimed interim president.

Guaido sent a letter requesting to send a delegation to Rome "as soon as possible" to present "the action plan to relaunch democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections", Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said.

Britain, France, Germany and Spain are among 20 EU nations to side with Guaido this week after Maduro ignored their demands that he announce new presidential elections by February 3.

But an attempt to muscle up the bloc's common position was vetoed by Italy, with the coalition government in Rome divided over how to handle the Venezuela crisis.

Cache of US weapons and ammunition recovered

A large number of weapons and ammunition sent from Miami, USA, were seized at a warehouse in Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia, according to a statement issued by Venezuelan Public Security Ministry's on Twitter.

Deputy Minister of Public Security Endes Palencia also shared photographs of captured weapons and ammunition on his Twitter account and announced that 19 US-made rifles, 118 magazines, scopes and high-caliber ammunition were recovered in the warehouse on February 3. 

He added that 90 communication devices and six mobile phones were also recovered.

Tuesday, February 5

Military blocks humanitarian aid shipment

Venezuelan military officers blocked a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid shipment being coordinated by Guaido.

The opposition-dominated National Assembly had earlier warned the armed forces, which make up much of Maduro's power base, not to cross a "red line" by blocking aid.

Maduro says the humanitarian aid would be the forerunner of a US-led invasion, insisting that "nothing will enter, not one invading soldier."

Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela.

Franklyn Duarte, an opposition lawmaker from the border state of Tachira, told AFP that troops from the armed forces were blocking the crossing.

Argentinians protest US intervention in Venezuela

Hundreds of Argentinians held a demonstration in the capital Buenos Aires against US intervention in Venezuela.

Non-governmental organisations, trade unions and student clubs gathered at the University of Buenos Aires and marched to the US embassy.

The crowd chanted slogans such as "End US pressure on Latin America!” and “Establish dialogue and peace in Venezuela!”

The demonstrators said peace will only be achieved through dialogue, not by a military coup.

Vatican open to mediating if 'both sides ask' – Pope

Pope Francis said that the Vatican would be willing to mediate in Venezuela if both sides asked, but preliminary steps to try to bring them closer together should be taken first.

Francis, speaking to reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, also confirmed that Maduro had written a letter to him but that he had not yet read it.

Maduro told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 on Monday that he had sent the letter to the pope "for help in the process of facilitating and reinforcing dialogue".

Asked about a possible direct mediation effort by the Vatican, the pope said: "I will read the letter and see what can be done but the initial condition is that both sides ask for it. We are willing."

Erdogan accuses EU of seeking Maduro's ouster in defiance of 'democracy'

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the European Union of seeking to overthrow embattled Venezuelan leader Maduro in defiance of "democracy."

"On one side you will say 'democracy, democracy, democracy' and 'ballot box, ballot box, ballot box' and later you will dare to topple the government by violence and ruse," Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers in parliament, referring to the European Union.

"We don't accept a world where the powerful is right, we only accept a world order when the right is powerful."

Monday, February 4

Lima Group urges Venezuela troops to let aid in

A coalition of Western Hemisphere nations is urging Venezuela's military to allow badly needed food and medicine to enter the country as the bloc pushes for a peaceful transition of power in the South American nation.

The call came Monday from the Lima Group, which is made up of nearly a dozen conservative Latin American nations and Canada. It has led the push to recognise opposition lawmaker Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader and seeks ways to remove Maduro.

Maduro earlier warned of civil war amid the political crisis in the country, a claim that Guaido later dismissed.

Maduro vows to defend Venezuela with his life

Maduro announced a national petition drive for peace, saying "I will defend this threatened country with my life."

Maduro made the remarks to mark National Dignity Day, the anniversary of a failed 1992 coup against late President Hugo Chavez, his predecessor.

The signatures will be taken to the White House "in rejection of intervention," said the president.

Commenting on his Spanish counterpart's decision to recognise Guaido as interim president, Maduro said if a coup were to happen, Pedro Sanchez's hands "will be covered with blood."

Guaido to host international conference

In the meantime, the interim government challenging Maduro says it will hold an international conference to seek emergency humanitarian assistance at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington.

Carlos Vecchio was recently designated as ambassador to Washington by the Guaido's self-proclaimed interim government and he says that governments, private sector and civil society representatives will attend the Feb. 14 conference

Maduro trying to move public funds – Guaido

Guaido said the government of Maduro was trying to move up to $1.2 billion from state development bank Bandes to a financial entity in Uruguay, though he did not present evidence.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Guaido, in a televised speech, called on the Uruguayan government to not allow the operation, which he denounced as the "theft of public funds."

'We are not beggars' – Maduro on aid

Maduro accused the US of preparing a coup in the South American country and rejected a US-backed effort to send emergency food and medicine into his country. 

"We are not beggars," Maduro said on Venezuelan state TV on Monday. 

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

UN will not join any group on talks – Guterres

The United Nations will not join any group of nations seeking to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, the UN chief Antonio Guterres said, rejecting an invitation to attend a meeting in Uruguay this week of neutral countries.

"The UN secretariat has decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to our continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution," Guterres told reporters.

Maduro government rejects EU's pro-Guaido move

Venezuela government expressed its "energetic rejection" to some EU states' decision to recognise Guaido as "interim president", a statement said.

It said Caracas will revise bilateral relations with these governments. Meanwhile, Canada's PM Justin Trudeau announced $53 million in aid to Venezuelans.

Italy blocks EU statement on Guaido 

Italy blocked a European Union statement saying that the bloc's member states would recognise Venezuela's National Assembly head Guaido as interim president.

Italy's opposition has prevented a unified EU stance.

Maduro writes Pope Francis for support

Maduro said in an Italian TV interview that he has written to Pope Francis asking for help in fostering dialogue.

Maduro said in the interview with Sky TG24 that he hopes the letter is in route or has reached the Vatican.

In the interview conducted at a military base, Maduro describes himself as being "in the service of Christ's cause and in this spirit" he has asked Francis to "facilitate and reinforce" dialogue with his "best effort, his willingness."

Maduro added he was hoping for a "positive response."

Moscow accuses EU of meddling 

Kremlin slammed the European 'interference' in Venezuela.

It said recognising Guaido as interim president amounted to foreign meddling and that Venezuelans, not foreign countries, should resolve their own domestic political issues.

EU countries acknowledge Guaido's interim presidency

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom are among 16 EU nations to recognise opposition leader Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela on Monday.

"Nicolas Maduro has not called presidential elections within 8-day limit we have set," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a tweet.

France Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had earlier said that "Guaido has the capacity and the legitimacy to organise an election."

The EU stated it "will acknowledge" Venezuela's National Assembly head Guaido as interim president, a draft statement said on Monday.

EU states have been sparring for days on how to address the situation of Venezuela. 

TRT World's Philip Owira reports.

Sunday, February 3

Maduro rejects European ultimatum 

Maduro rejected an ultimatum by European countries to call snap elections.

Seven EU states had given Maduro a Sunday deadline to call presidential elections or they would recognise the 35-year-old National Assembly head Guaidoas the interim president.

"Why does the European Union have to tell a country in the world that has already had elections that it has to repeat its presidential elections, because they were not won by their right-wing allies," Maduro said in an interview with a Spanish television in Caracas.

Civil war a possibility - Maduro

In another interview cited by the BBC, Maduro said he cannot rule out the possibility of civil war as pressure mounts on him to stand down.

"Everything depends on the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire (the US) and its Western allies," he said.

"Stop. Stop. Donald Trump! You are making mistakes that are going to stain your hands with blood and you are going to leave the presidency stained with blood," Maduro said.

"Let's respect each other, or is it that you are going to repeat a Vietnam in Latin America?"

Sending troops to Venezuela 'an option'

Trump said that sending the military to Venezuela was "an option" and that he had turned down Maduro's request for a meeting.

"Certainly, it's something that's on the - it's an option," Trump said in an interview with CBS.

Trump said Maduro requested a meeting months ago and he turned down the Venezuela leader.

"I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process," he said in excerpts from a CBS "Face the Nation" interview. "So, I think the process is playing out - very, very big tremendous protests."

Help Venezuela, but don't meddle - Russia

Russia's foreign ministry said that the international community should focus on helping to solve Venezuela's economic and social problems and refrain from any "destructive" interference, Interfax news agency reported.

"The international community's goal should be to help (Venezuela solve socio-economic problems), without destructive meddling from beyond its borders," Alexander Shchetinin, head of the ministry's Latin American department, was cited by Interfax as saying.

'Countries supporting Guaido fueling crisis'

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the countries which were supporting Guaido should instead have worked for negotiations to resolve Venezuela's crisis.

"There is a problem in a country, there is a spark that can turn into a fire at any moment. In this case, they should have contributed to the solution of the problem through dialogue," Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul.

Cavusoglu said Turkey had tried to initiate talks on Venezuela last year between Washington and Latin American countries. "But today, none of the countries that have taken these steps against Venezuela has sought dialogue."

Saturday, February 2

Maduro proposes earlier elections for national assembly

Maduro proposed on Saturday bringing forward parliamentary elections to this year.

Maduro, in a speech to supporters, said the all-powerful government-controlled Constituent Assembly would debate calling earlier elections for the National Assembly, which he denounced as "bourgeois."

The parliamentary elections had been scheduled for 2020.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports from Caracus.

General declares allegiance to Guaido in Twitter video

A high-ranking Venezuelan air force general said he had defected to Maduro and now recognized self-declared leader Guaido as interim head-of-state, according to a video circulating on Twitter on Saturday.

In the video, General Francisco Yanez, a member of the air force's high command, called on other members of the military to defect. The high command's web page lists him, along with a photo, as the air force's head of strategic planning.

On its Twitter account, the high command accused the general of treason. 

Yanez is the first active Venezuelan general to recognize Guaido since he proclaimed himself president on January 23.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan brings more from the capital Caracas.

Friday, February 1 

Military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is not imminent, Trump’s national security adviser said on Friday, but reiterated that all options remain on the table. 

Asked if US military intervention was imminent — or by Brazil or Colombia or a combination of all three nations — Trump adviser John Bolton told the Hugh Hewitt radio show: “No.” 

“The president said all options are on the table. But our objective is a peaceful transfer of power,” he said.

Pence vows more pressure on Maduro

In a visit to the largest community of Venezuelan exiles in the United States - and flanked by four prominent Florida Republican politicians - US Vice President Mike Pence categorically rejected calls for talks with Maduro, and warned all options were on the table to force him to leave. 

“This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action,” Pence told a few hundred people at a rally in a local church, many of whom waved Venezuelan flags and shouted “Libertad!” 

“The time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all,” said Pence, who has emerged as one of the strongest voices against the Venezuelan leader in the administration of Trump.

Steve Mort has the story.

Venezuela opposition leader rejects mediation offers

Guaido said on Friday he has turned down offers from the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay to negotiate with Maduro, a day before nationwide street protests called to escalate pressure on the leader to step down.

In a letter to both presidents, Guaido urged them to back Venezuela's struggle, saying to remain neutral aligns them with Maduro.

"At this historical moment that our country is going through, to be neutral is to be on the side of the regime that has condemned hundreds of thousands of human beings to misery, hunger and exile — including death," he said.

'Foreign intervention in Venezuela will deepen problem'

Any foreign intervention in Venezuela is "not right" and will deepen the problem, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said on Friday.

"We are telling since the beginning. Such foreign interventions are not healthy and not right. They will not offer a solution. They will deepen the problem. God forbid, the country [Venezuela] even can be dragged into a civil war," Cavusoglu told reporters in Romania.

Cavusoglu said the countries should bring dialogue into the forefront instead of taking sides.

Thursday, January 31 

Plot to kill Maduro busted – officials 

Venezuelan officials on Thursday said security forces took down a "terrorist" group backed by political opponents plotting to assassinate Maduro.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that retired National Guard Col Oswaldo Garcia Palomo was among those detained.

Palomo has been an outspoken critic of Maduro and for months has declared his intention to amass a military force in exile to topple him.

Reverol accuses Colombian intelligence, the CIA and exiled Venezuelan lawmaker Julio Borges of being behind the alleged mercenary group.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports.

EU agrees to lead Venezuela crisis group

The EU announced the creation of an international contact group of European and Latin American countries to help chart a peaceful end to Venezuela's political crisis within 90 days.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the group would aim to "build trust and create conditions necessary for a credible process to emerge... enabling Venezuelans to determine their own future through the holding of new elections".

Guaido says security forces threatening his family

Guaido accused socialist leader Maduro's security forces of trying to intimidate his family.

Guaido said the security service FAES had gone to his house asking for his wife, Fabiana.

"The dictatorship thinks it will intimidate us," Guaido said during a speech at the main university in the capital Caracas.

The 35-year-old president of the National Assembly said he had a 20-month old daughter at home and would be holding FAES accountable for "whatever they do to my baby."

EU parliament recognises Guaido as interim president

The European Parliament recognised Venezuela's self-declared interim president Guaido as the de-facto head of state, a symbolic step that lawmakers said was designed to keep pressure on Maduro.

EU lawmakers voted in a non-binding resolution to recognise Guaido as interim leader and called on all EU governments to follow suit.

Release foreign journalists – EU's top diplomat

Venezuelan authorities must immediately release three detained foreign journalists and a driver, the European Union's top diplomat said on Thursday.

"There is a clear call from my side to release immediately your colleagues in Caracas," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters in Bucharest after a meeting of EU defence ministers. 

"We firmly believe that all journalists should be able to exercise their duties, responsibilities and rights in their work," Mogherini said.

Opposition meets military

Venezuela’s opposition has had clandestine meetings with members of the country’s military and security forces, Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Guaido, said in an opinion piece published on Wednesday. 

“The transition will require support from key military contingents. We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces,” Guaido said in an opinion piece published by the New York Times. “The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr. (President Nicolas) Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government.”

Spain condemns media arrests in Venezuela

The Spanish government has condemned the detention of three reporters and a driver working for Spain's state-run EFE news agency in Venezuela's capital.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's office issued a statement calling for their immediate release.

EFE has reported that Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared on Wednesday morning in Caracas and that two more reporters, Spaniard Gonzalo Dominguez and Colombian Mauren Barriga, were later taken away from their office by members of Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin, according to EFE

Spain's government says a Venezuelan driver working for the news agency was also taken into custody.

He wasn't identified.

Wednesday, January 30

Mexico, Uruguay convene meeting of ‘neutral’ countries

Mexico and Uruguay on Wednesday announced they would convene an international conference for countries and bodies with a “neutral position” to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela. 

The two countries have not yet recognised the claim by National Assembly leader Guaido to be acting president in place of leader Maduro. 

The conference, announced on the website of the Uruguayan presidency, is due to take place in Montevideo on February 7.

Prevent 'Vietnam in Latin America' – Maduro 

Maduro pressed his case directly to the American people, asking for their help in preventing a "Vietnam in Latin America."

In a 45-second video released early Wednesday and shot from the presidential palace and addressed to "the American people", Maduro said that the Trump administration is behind an attempt to overthrow him in a coup.

He said the US is looking to get its hands on Venezuela's abundant oil reserves, replicating US military interventions in Iraq and Libya.

Maduro ready for talks

Maduro said calls to hold early presidential elections amounted to blackmail and that the countries calling for them must wait until 2025, Russia's RIA news agency reported on Wednesday.

Maduro said he was prepared to hold negotiations with the US-backed opposition and added he would support early parliamentary elections.

"I am ready to sit at the negotiation table with the opposition for us to talk for the benefit of Venezuela, for the sake of peace and its future," Maduro said in an interview with Russia’s state news agency RIA.

Maduro also said Russian President Vladimir Putin had promised him more economic and military support during phone talks last week.

Venezuela will meet its financial obligations to Moscow and Beijing, Maduro said. 

The comments came a day after Russia said Caracas could have problems servicing its debt to Moscow after Washington imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company.

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has more.

Guadio calls for protests

Guaido has called for walkouts and protests to be held across the country on Wednesday.

He urged Venezuelans to step outside their homes and workplaces for two hours beginning at noon in the first mass mobilisation since he declared himself the nation's rightful leader a week ago during another round of big protests.

Tuesday, January 29

Court imposes travel ban on Guaido  

The country's Supreme Tribunal of Justice barred self-declared president Guaido from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts.

The 35-year-old head of the National Assembly legislature "is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the (preliminary) investigation" for having "caused harm to peace in the republic," high court president Maikel Moreno said.

The government-stacked high court announced the order just hours after chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab announced that he was opening a criminal investigation into Guaido's anti-government activities and requested that restrictions be placed on his movements abroad.
The court also approved Saab's request that all of Guaido's financial assets be frozen.

The move came after the US announced it was giving Guaido control of Venezuelan government's US bank accounts. 

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports.

White House warns against 'harm' to Guaido

Trump's national security advisor warned of "serious consequences" if any harm comes to Guaido.

"Let me reiterate – there will be serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido," Trump advisor John Bolton tweeted.

Pence meets Guido 'envoy'

US Vice President Mike Pence met Guaido's designated envoy to the United States on Tuesday. Pence said they discussed recent sanctions actions, "highlighting that these deprive Maduro and his cronies access to corrupt income and ... preserve the country's wealth for the people of Venezuela."

The sanctions are also expected to hit daily life hard in Venezuela, where public spending is almost entirely funded by oil revenues. 

Attorney general seeks Guaido probe

Venezuela's attorney general asked the Supreme Court to bar Guaido, the self-proclaimed acting president and opposition leader, from leaving the country and to freeze his assets.

Tarek Saab said he had asked the court to open a preliminary investigation against Guaido, and to freeze the opposition leader's accounts.

Saab didn't specify what crimes Guaido is being investigated for. 

Defiant Maduro warns US: 'Hands off Venezuela'

A defiant Maduro warned Trump to keep his ''hands off Venezuela.''

''And we should tell Donald Trump, don't mess with Venezuela: ''Hands off Venezuela, Donald Trump, hands off Venezuela, de immediately !'' Maduro said in broken English.

In a defiant national broadcast, Maduro said he would take legal action to challenge the US sanctions and defend Citgo Petroleum Corp, PDVSA's US refining subsidiary. He also pledged to retaliate, but did not announce any specific measures.

US, Venezuela envoys trade jibes at UN

Senior US and Venezuelan diplomats traded jibes at a UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, a day after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on the state-owned oil firm PDVSA in its toughest financial challenge yet to embattled Maduro.

Venezuela's ambassador Jorge Valero said that the Trump administration was preparing a "military invasion" of his country and questioned whether Washington had the moral authority to "impose a diktat" on Caracas.

Plath walked out of the conference during his comments, then returned.

Guaido for amnesty to Maduro, army

Guaido said Maduro and the armed forces could be granted amnesty, in an interview with CNN.

He said the opposition can achieve a peaceful transition away from Maduro and eventually free elections, Guaido said.

He also said he had spoken to Trump a number of times and, when asked about possible military options in Venezuela, said all options were on the table.

Kremlin calls US sanctions illegal interference

The Kremlin said that US sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company amounted to illegal and open interference in the Latin American country's domestic affairs.

Moscow is assessing the impact on Russia of the sanctions and intends to use all legal mechanisms at its disposable to protect Russia's interests in Venezuela in light of the sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Lavrov was quoted as saying that the US sanctions imposed on Venezuela's state oil company are illegal and Russia will take all necessary steps to support the administration of Maduro. 

Lavrov said the sanctions amounted to an attempt by the United States to confiscate Venezuelan state assets, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.

Deaths and arrests over the week

UN Human Rights spokesman says at least 40 people were killed in Venezuela during the past week.

The UN added that more than 850 people were detained in the country, including 696 on January 23, which is the highest number recorded for a single day in 20 year.

Monday, January 28

US sanctions Venezuelan state oil firm 

US government has announced sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, also known as PDVSA. 

"The United States is holding accountable those responsible for Venezuela's tragic decline, and will continue to use the full suite of its diplomatic and economic tools to support Interim Guaido, the National Assembly, and the Venezuelan people's efforts to restore their democracy," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. 

"Today's designation of PdVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela's assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela." he said.

TRT World's Juan Carlos Lamas reports.

Guaido calls for fresh protests

Guaido on Monday called for new street demonstrations across the country as army marched in capital Caracas to show support for Maduro.

Guaido said opposition sympathisers should take to the streets of the crisis-hit OPEC nation on Wednesday to pass out copies of a pamphlet proposing amnesty that would give some legal protection to members of the military in hopes they will turn against Maduro.

Protests left 35 dead, 850 arrested – NGO

A week of protests against Maduro has left 35 people dead and 850 detained, a non-governmental organisation said.

"We have the corroborated figure, with first name, surname, place and presumed guilty parties, of 35 people murdered in the context of the protests" since Monday last week, said Rafael Uzcategui, director of the Venezuelan Program for Education-Action in Human Rights.

Pope afraid of 'bloodbath' 

Pope Francis said he feared bloodshed in Venezuela but that it was premature for him to take sides because it could cause more damage.

Pope said he was terrified the political crisis enveloping Venezuela would descend into a "bloodbath".

"What am I afraid of? A bloodbath," the first Latin American pontiff told journalists aboard a plane on his return trip from Panama, adding that "the problem of violence terrifies me".

Australia 'recognises' Guaido as new president

Australia "recognises and supports" Venezuela's National Assembly head Guaido as interim president until elections are held, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday, following similar endorsements from the US and Canada.

Payne also called for a "transition to democracy in Venezuela as soon as possible" in a statement.

New Zealand refuses to back Guaido

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said New Zealand will not give official recognition to either side.

"It is not New Zealand's practice to make statements of recognition of governments," Peters was cited as saying in a statement e-mailed by his press office.

"Venezuela needs to decide its future through free and fair elections. This government expressed concerns about Venezuela's elections in 2018, and these concerns remain."

Sunday, January 27

US threats Maduro over diplomats

Bolton warned on Sunday of a “significant response” if US diplomats or the opposition leader seeking the ouster of Maduro are threatened or intimidated. 

“Any violence and intimidation against US diplomatic personnel, Venezuela’s democratic leader, Juan Guaido, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response,” he posted on Twitter

The warning didn’t address specific groups or individuals, but Bolton noted in a linked tweet that Cuba’s “support and control over Maduro’s security and paramilitary forces” was well known.

Israel recognises Guaido

Israel on Sunday officially recognised Venezuela’s National Assembly chief Guaido as president, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, following close ally Washington in endorsing the opposition leader. 

Netanyahu announced in an online video that Israel was joining the United States, Canada and a host of South American countries “in recognising the new leadership in Venezuela”.

Maduro rejects EU ultimatum

Maduro rejected an ultimatum to call a national election within eight days, describing European countries as insolent for making it.

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk aired on Sunday and dubbed into Turkish from Spanish, Maduro also said opposition leader Guaido had violated the constitution by declaring himself leader. 

Maduro also said he was open to dialogue, and that a meeting with Trump, while improbable, was not impossible.

TRT World's Shamim Chowdhury has more. 

Saturday, January 26

UK, France, Germany and Spain said on Saturday they would give Maduro eight days to call elections in the south American country or they would recognise Guaido as interim leader in charge of calling an election. 

“The government of Spain gives Nicolas Maduro eight days to call free, transparent and democratic elections. If that doesn’t happen, Spain will recognise Juan Guaido as interim president in charge of calling these elections,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a statement.

Similar declarations were made by UK, Germany and France.

Friday, January 25

Controversial GOP veteran to 'restore democracy' 

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday tapped Elliot Abrams, a central figure in Ronald Reagan's controversial anti-communist campaigns in Central America, as a new envoy to "restore democracy" in Venezuela.

Pompeo announced the appointment of Abrams two days after Washington declared Maduro to be illegitimate and recognised Guaido as the interim president.

Pompeo said  Abrams will "help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country."

Abrams under Reagan channelled generous US support to anti-communist forces in Nicaragua and El Salvador. He initially dismissed the massacre of nearly 1,000 civilians by the Salvadoran army at El Mozote in 1981.

He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour counts during the Iran-Contra scandal.

Maduro ready to meet Guaido

Maduro said on Friday that he was ready to meet presidency rival Guaido.

But Maduro's offer for talks was promptly rejected by Guaido.

Addressing a news conference, he said that Venezuelan armed forces have promised to protect his legitimate government.

Guaido claims international support

Guaido, who has proclaimed himself interim president with US support, says there is a strong international support for his interim government.

Addressing a rally in Caracas, he said that Maduro has to leave, adding it would happen with international support.

UN rights boss calls for independent investigation into deaths

The United Nations human rights boss Michelle Bachelet calls for an independent investigation into alleged excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces, citing reports of 20 people killed and more than 350 detained in protests this week.

"I am extremely concerned that the situation in Venezuela may rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences", Bachelet, a former president of Chile, said in a statement urging political leaders to hold talks to defuse the situation.

Thursday, January 24 

Military backs Maduro

Venezuela's powerful military threw its weight behind Maduro on Thursday as US-backed Guaido pressed a direct challenge to his authority, and the fate of the crisis-wracked country hung in the balance with the death toll from days of street protests jumping to 26.

Washington seeks to cut Maduro's revenue 

Trump's national security adviser Bolton said the White House is focused on disconnecting Maduro from his sources of revenue. 

"We think consistent with our recognition of Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela that those revenues should go to the legitimate government. It’s very complicated," Bolton told reporters at the White House. 

Maduro hails support of Turkey, Russia and China

Venezuela’s president expressed his gratitude to Turkey, Russia and China on Thursday for their support after Guaido declared himself “interim president”.

"I thank Russia, China, Turkey and other governments and people of the world for their strong support of the legitimately established government of Venezuela," Maduro said in a Twitter post.

"Venezuela is not alone!" he added.

Guaido would consider granting Maduro amnesty

Guaido says he would consider granting amnesty to Maduro and his allies if they helped return Venezuela to democracy.

Guaido gave his first public comments to Univision on Thursday since declaring himself interim president of Venezuela. Guaido's comments are part of a soon-to-be aired interview that was published on Univision's website.

The National Assembly leader says that amnesty is on the table for anybody willing to help return Venezuela to constitutional order.

Germany backs National Assembly

The German government called for democratic new elections in Venezuela, saying it stood with the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

"With regard to #Venezuela, we are not neutral," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter. "We support the National Assembly, which is elected by the people. Maduro has no democratic legitimacy as President."

US orders non-essential staff out

The US ordered non-emergency embassy staff to leave Venezuela but stopped short of complying with a full expulsion ordered by Maduro, who Washington says is no longer president.

The state department in a notice said it had "ordered non-emergency US government employees to depart Venezuela."

"The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Venezuela," it said.

US citizens should "strongly consider" leaving Venezuela, the state department, said.

Venezuela to shut US embassy

Venezuela will close its embassy and all consulates in the United States, Maduro said on Thursday, one day after he broke off diplomatic relations in response to US recognition of an opposition leader as interim president. 

In a speech, Maduro added that he agreed with a call by Mexico and Uruguay for dialogue between Venezuela’s government and the opposition for a resolution to the South American country’s political crisis.

TRT World's Jon Brain reports from Washington.

Putin calls Maduro

Russian President Putin on Thursday called Maduro and expressed support, the Kremlin said.

“The President of Russia expressed support for the legitimate authorities of Venezuela in the context of a domestic political crisis that has been provoked from the outside,” it said.

Pompeo warns Maduro

Pompeo on Thursday warned Maduro against use of force on mass demonstrations as he urged further international support for the self-declared acting president.

“The time for debate is done. The regime of former president Nicolas Maduro is illegitimate,” Pompeo told the Organization for American States at a special meeting at its Washington headquarters.

His speech was interrupted by a pro-Maduro protester.

Trump comments on Venezuela are 'shocking' – Erdogan

Turkish President Erdogan said on Thursday that he believed the people of Venezuela would continue to support Maduro. 

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Maltese counterpart in Ankara, Erdogan said he found Trump’s comments on Venezuela shocking and added that democracies needed to respect election results.

Maduro is 'legitimate president'

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Thursday that Maduro was the country’s “legitimate president” and that the opposition was carrying out a coup. 

Padrino said the United States and other governments were carrying out an economic war against Venezuela, an OPEC nation with the world’s largest crude reserves.

Maduro must go – senior EU lawmaker  

Maduro must step down and allow the country's congress to lead the country back to democracy, one of the European Parliament's most senior lawmakers said on Thursday, taking a tougher stance than EU foreign ministers.

"President Maduro has lost any legitimacy to lead his country. He needs to step aside," David McAllister, a German conservative who chairs the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said in a statement.

Iran throws its support behind Maduro

"Iran opposes all foreign interference in Venezuela's domestic affairs," Bahram Qasemi, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, said in a statement.

Qasemi voiced hope that Venezuela's internal political disputes might be resolved "by its people and government."

Opposition supporters take part in a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela. January 23, 2019.
Opposition supporters take part in a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela. January 23, 2019. (Reuters)

Macron hails 'Venezuelans marching for liberty'

French President Emmanuel Macron said the May 2018 election of Maduro was “illegitimate” and saluted the bravery of Venezuelans who are demanding freedom.

In a tweet on Thursday in French and Spanish, Macron added his own voice to the European Union’s declared support for the restoration of democracy.

Macron said that he "salutes the courage of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans marching for their liberty."

Spain backs Venezuela parliament, calls for free vote

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Guaido in a phone call on Thursday that he supported the legitimacy of the Venezuelan Parliament and called for free elections, in line with the European Union's position.

The Spanish leader acknowledged Guaido's "courage with which he has been handling the situation," a government spokesman said.

China opposes outside interference

China said it opposes outside interference in Venezuela and supports its efforts to protect its independence and stability.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called for all sides to calmly and reasonably find a peaceful solution.

"China supports efforts made by the Venezuelan government to protect the country's sovereignty, independence and stability," Hua told a regular briefing in Beijing.

"... I want to emphasise that outside sanctions or interference usually make the situation more complicated and are not helpful to resolving the actual problems."

EU says protests 'cannot be ignored'

The European Union called for Venezuela authorities to respect the "civil rights, freedom and safety" of Guaido but stopped short of following Washington and recognising him as interim president.

"On 23 January, the people of Venezuela have massively called for democracy and the possibility to freely determine their own destiny. These voices cannot be ignored," the 28 countries of the bloc said in a joint statement.

"The Venezuelan people have the right to peacefully demonstrate, to freely choose its leaders and decide its future."

Russia warns US against military intervention

Russia warned the United States not to intervene militarily in Venezuela, saying such a move would trigger a catastrophic scenario, the Interfax news agency cited the deputy foreign minister as saying.

Interfax cited Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, as saying Moscow would stand with Venezuela to protect its sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in its domestic affairs.

Avert 'disaster' – UN head appeals

UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed for dialogue in Venezuela to avoid the political crisis spiralling out of control, after Guaido declared himself "interim president."

"What we hope is that dialogue can be possible, and that we avoid an escalation that would lead to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region," he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"Sovereign governments have the possibility to decide whatever they want," the UN secretary-general said on a Facebook Live broadcast from Davos.

"What we are worried [about] with the situation in Venezuela is the suffering of the people of Venezuela," he said.

#WeareMADURO

Turkey's President Erdogan voiced solidarity with Maduro early on Thursday.

"We are with you," Erdogan told Maduro in a telephone call, Turkey's presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin shared on Twitter, ending his tweet with #WeareMADURO.

Russia slams 'western' interference' in Venezuela

The Russian foreign ministry criticised western interference in Venezuela's internal affairs, saying "The developments in Venezuela show very well how progressive western society really treats international law, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of other states, by picking the government there [in Venezuela]."

Russian lawmaker Franz Klinzevich also warned Moscow could wind up its military cooperation with Venezuela if Maduro, whom he called the legitimately elected president, was ousted.

Wednesday, January 23

US calls for army intervention

A US state department statement called on Venezuela's army to act against Maduro's government 

Venezuela's Defence Minister Padrino hit back saying the armed forces did not recognise Guaido's authority. 

"The nation's soldiers don't accept a president imposed by obscure interests, nor one self-proclaimed outside of the law," said Padrino on Twitter.

Maduro lacks 'authority' to sever ties with US

United States rejected a move by Maduro to break diplomatic ties, saying it did not think he had the authority to cut ties and it would conduct relations with a government led by Guaido.

'Get out! Leave Venezuela'

Maduro announced he was breaking off diplomatic ties with the US after Trump recognised Guaido as the "interim president."

"I've decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the US," Maduro told thousands of supporters in the capital Caracas.

"Get out! Leave Venezuela, here there's dignity, damn it," he said, giving the US delegation 72 hours to quit the country.

Pro and anti-Maduro recognitions

Most Latin American nations on Wednesday recognised the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela's opposition-dominated National Assembly as interim president as did the US and Canada.

Longstanding leftist allies Bolivia and Cuba were the only countries in the region to explicitly voice support for Maduro as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru backed Guaido.  

Mexico also said it backs Maduro's rule and it would not take sides, branding support for Guaido a violation of sovereignty.

Turkey also offered support in a phone call to Maduro.

Juan Guaido declares himself president 

Guaido, during a rally against Maduro's government in Caracas, declared himself interim president, calling for free elections to end Maduro's presidency.

Massive rallies

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans gathered in Caracas to hold rival protests. 

Tuesday, January 22

US trying to force a coup

Maduro accused Pence of forcing a coup in his country. 

"Never before has a high-level official said that the opposition should overthrow the government," Maduro said.

'Hola, I'm Mike Pence'

Pence issued a video message of support to Venezuelans opposing Maduro's rule. 

"On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom," Pence said after offering a greeting of "hola," which means "hello" in Spanish.

"Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He has never won the presidency in a free and fair election, and has maintained his grip of power by imprisoning anyone who dares to oppose him."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies