- Several EU countries demanded that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro call new elections by Sunday amid the country’s political chaos.
- Maduro refused to do so, telling Spanish TV on Sunday: "We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone."
- At the same time, US President Donald Trump — who backs Maduro opponent Juan Guaidó — is considering sending troops into Venezuela.
- Maduro threatened to plunge Venezuela into civil war if Trump went ahead with this reported plan.
The beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro refused to call new elections in response to demands from several European countries.
He also warned that the US presidency would be "stained with blood" if President Donald Trump goes ahead with his reported plans to intervene.
EU countries including Austria, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain last week told Maduro to call fresh elections by Sunday or else they would formally recognize Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuela’s interim president.
Miraflores Presidential Palace via AP
Guaidó, the National Assembly president, declared himself the country’s interim president last month. Anti-Maduro critics accused Maduro of vote-rigging in last May’s presidential elections. They say his current presidency, which started on January 10, is unconstitutional and fraudulent.
Tens of thousands of people have been protesting against Maduro over the past month. Maduro has presided over one of the world’s worst economic crises and produced hundreds of thousands of refugees across Venezuela’s borders.
Maduro rejected the European countries’ call on Sunday — the day of the deadline — and told the Spanish TV channel laSexta: "We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone."
"It’s as if I told the European Union that I give it a few days to recognize the Republic of Catalonia," he added, referring to the Spanish region of Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain in October 2017.
Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, declared autonomy from Spain after a contested referendum, before Madrid’s Constitutional Court canceled the independence bid a month later. Spanish authorities have since arrested and detained some of Puigdemont’s allies.
Britain, Denmark, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden formally recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president on Monday in response to Maduro’s refusal to organize new elections, Sky News reported.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
‘Stop, stop, Donald Trump!’
Maduro on Sunday also warned that Trump’s presidency would be "stained with blood" if Trump decided to intervene in Venezuela.
Trump, who openly backs Guaidó as interim president, on Sunday said that sending troops to Venezuela was "an option."
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Maduro, in response, threatened the possibility of his country descending into widespread violence.
When laSexta asked whether the political turmoil could end in civil war, Maduro said: "Nobody can answer now with certainty. Everything depends on the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire," referring to the US.
He also told laSexta that "thousands of innocent Venezuelans may end up paying with their lives … if the US empire attacks the country."
"Stop, stop, Donald Trump!" Maudro added. "You are making mistakes that are going to stain your hands with blood, and you are going to leave the presidency stained with blood. Stop!"
"Or is it that you are going to repeat a Vietnam in Latin America?" he said.
Maduro on Sunday also warned Guaidó to "stop this coup-mongering strategy and stop simulating a presidency in which nobody elected him."
Guaidó argued in The New York Times last week that his interim presidency was not a "self-proclamation" because the Venezuelan constitution says there if there is "no elected head of state", he becomes interim president.
He argues that, since Maduro is not legitimate in his eyes, that condition has been fulfilled.
The US, EU, Canada, and almost all of Latin America formally recognize Guaidó as interim president.
While military leaders around Venezuela declared their loyalty to Maduro two weeks ago, there are signs that some are breaking ranks. One senior air force general, who was not named, recognized Guaidó as interim chief, Reuters reported.
Russia, China, Turkey, Syria, Bolivia, and Cuba back Maduro, and have accused Guaidó-supporting countries of meddling in Venezuela’s domestic politics.
Russia on Monday said the EU’s coordinated move to recognize Guaidó amounted to foreign meddling, Sky News reported.
- Venezuela’s ‘interim president’ set himself 3 tests to secure power. He just changed the hardest one to something he already has.
- Venezuela’s Maduro has been blacking out social media — and sometimes the whole internet — to stifle his US-backed opposition
- Europe is trying to force Venezuela to hold new elections as its political crisis continues to spiral
Source: Business Insider