Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on January 23 that he was breaking off diplomatic relations with the United States after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of the South American country.
Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, the socialist leader also announced that he was giving 72 hours to American diplomatic staff to leave Venezuela.
“I have decided to break off diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States. Out! Out! Let them leave Venezuela, there is dignity here, come on,” Nicolas Maduro proclaimed.
On Twitter, the White House said that “President[Donald Trump] has officially recognized the Speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the interim President of Venezuela.
In his speech, Nicolas Maduro accused Washington of a “coup d’état” and called on the military to remain united and maintain their discipline. “I ask the army, the soldiers of our homeland, the National Armed Forces, the greatest loyalty, the greatest union, the greatest discipline, we will also win this fight. Always loyal, never traitors,” he added in front of the pro-Maduro demonstrators
Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Twitter that the army would defend the Constitution and not an imposed President.
“Despair and intolerance have brought peace to our nation. The soldiers of the Fatherland do not accept a President imposed in the shadow of obscure and self-proclaimed interests in violation of the law. The National Armed Forces defend the Constitution and are the guarantors of national sovereignty,” the Minister said.
Thousands of demonstrators, both opponents and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro, took to the streets of the country on 23 January in response to calls from leaders on both sides.
13 days after Nicolas Maduro’s inauguration, re-elected for a second term, the pro-American opponent and President of the National Assembly of Venezuela Juan Guaido proclaimed himself “interim president” of the Latin American country on 23 January. The young pro-US opponent said he wanted to rely on the army to help him replace Nicolas Maduro and organize free elections.
Mexico, Bolivia, and Cuba are exceptions.
Canada and several South American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Paraguay have recognized Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s new leader. Only Mexico and Bolivia have so far maintained their support for the current President Nicolas Maduro.
As for the Cuban government, it has expressed its “strong support” for Maduro.
“Our support and solidarity to President Nicolas Maduro in the face of imperialist attempts to discredit and destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Cancel wrote on Twitter.
Moscow criticizes the Western position
Meanwhile, the Russian diplomacy spokeswoman criticized Western countries on Thursday about the crisis in Venezuela, saying that it demonstrates “their attitude towards international law”.
“The events currently taking place in Venezuela clearly show the progressive international community’s attitude towards international law, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of a country where it is seeking to change power,” Maria Zakharova said on her Facebook page.
Erdogan supports Maduro
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro.
“Brother Maduro, keep your head up, Turkey stands by your side”, the Turkish Head of State told Mr Maduro during this telephone conversation, according to Turkish Presidency spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
Kalin also shared on Twitter the hashtag #NoussommesMADURO in support of the Venezuelan president.
On 10 January, Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second six-year term as head of Venezuela during a ceremony boycotted by the European Union and many Latin American countries. The United States, through John Bolton, National Security Advisor of the White House, has announced that it does not recognize the “illegitimate inauguration of the Maduro dictatorship”.