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LatinNews Daily - 04 February 2019

VENEZUELA: Maduro refuses to give in to pressure

On 3 February, Venezuela’s de facto president, Nicolás Maduro, publicly rejected the calls by the international community to resign or call a new presidential election insisting that he will not cave in to such pressure.


Maduro’s remarks followed the ultimatum issued by various European Union (EU) countries which gave him until today (4 February) to call a new presidential election or else they would join the US and the Lima Group of Western Hemisphere countries in no longer recognising him as Venezuela’s legitimate president and recognising the president of the opposition-controlled national assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s legitimate interim president. They also came after another weekend of mass public demonstrations calling for Maduro’s resignation and as more members of Venezuela’s armed forces expressed their support for Guaidó. The intransigent stance adopted by Maduro thus further increases the chances of the crisis in Venezuela turning into an internal armed conflict.

  • Maduro responded to the calls for new elections issued by the likes of France, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom in a televised interview with Spanish media. He accused the European countries of being pressured by the US administration led by Donald Trump, which has “imposed its misguided policies on the West”. Insisting that he “does not accept ultimatums” from anyone, Maduro said that he would not succumb to the calls to resign or hold early elections, stating that the next presidential election would be held in 2024 as planned.
  • Addressing the mass demonstrations against his administration staged on 2 February, called by Guaidó and the opposition, Maduro said that he was open to dialogue with the opposition to try to resolve the country’s current crisis. But he was adamant that “there is only one legitimate president” and he warned that Guaidó could be prosecuted by the supreme court for violating the constitution. Previously, on 2 February, Maduro even mooted the possibility of staging early legislative elections this year to help resolve the crisis by renewing the “bourgeois” national assembly.
  • Separately yesterday, Maduro also urged the armed forces to remain united and loyal to his government and ignore the various calls made by Guaidó to disobey his government and to help restore the democratic order in the country.  Speaking at a military barracks in Aragua state, Maduro called on the armed forces to defend Venezuela’s sovereignty in the face of international moves to try to oust him. This came after on 2 February Air Force General Francisco Esteban Yánez Rodríguez became the latest and highest-ranking member of the armed forces to pledge his allegiance to Guaidó and his interim government. Yánez called on other colleagues to follow suit.

Looking Ahead: With the US government also calling on Venezuelan military leaders to follow General Yánez’s lead and recognise Guaidó as the legitimate president, the tensions in Venezuela look set to escalate further in coming days ahead of the next major demonstration called by Guaidó for 12 February.