Freeland blasts 'illegitimate' Venezuelan president, calls on Maduro to 'immediately cede power'

Evarado Alatorre
Enero 11, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro began a new term Thursday that will keep him in power until 2025, with the economy in ruins and his regime more isolated than ever as neighbouring presidents shunned his inauguration after declaring his re-election illegitimate.

But his first term saw an exodus of millions of people escaping economic meltdown. Governments around the world also described it as illegitimate.

"All that's left to do is raise your hand to heaven and ask God to help us", said Bermudez, camped out on a Caracas sidewalk with hundreds of others waiting for gas. USA banks are also banned from doing business with Venezuela, putting a financial strangle-hold on the cash-strapped country.

"Venezuela is at the center of a world war led by the United States imperialism and its satellite countries", Maduro declared.

In a letter dated December 10, 2018, Maduro requested Harris' presence at his inauguration, saying, "Knowing his special respect for Venezuela, his singular appreciation for the good relationship between our countries and his inestimable solidarity with the Venezuelan people, it will be a great honor and an enormous privilege to have his presence at the State Ceremony, as well as in the rest of the official activities that will take place in the city of Caracas, on January 10, 2019".

The EU remains convinced that a peaceful political democratic solution is the only sustainable way out of the Venezuelan crisis and is engaging with global and regional partners regarding how we might help create the conditions required for a credible political process amongst relevant Venezuelan actors.

Oil-rich Venezuela was once among Latin America's wealthiest nations.

Venezuela, which sits atop the world's largest oil reserves, produced 3.5 million barrels of crude daily when Chavez took power. Critics blame years of rampant corruption and mismanagement of the state-run oil firm PDVSA.

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An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled, according to the United Nations. "Those that [remain silent] before the regime of Nicolas Maduro or that abstain are an obstruction to the work of the organisation", said Magalhaes at the end of the meeting. Maduro's government has jailed or driven into exile its most popular leaders.

The opposition-led Congress opened its session for the year this week, led by 35-year-old Juan Guaido, who vowed to battle against Maduro.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the USA would keep up pressure on the Maduro government: "It is time for Venezuelan leaders to make a choice", Pompeo said.

The Trump administration has increased pressure on Maduro through financial sanctions, targeting dozens in Maduro's government.

"The presidential election was assessed by many objective observers, including the Caribbean Observer Mission, to be free and fair".

David Smilde, a Tulane University professor and expert on Venezuela, said that sanctions aren't likely to create change.

"He still has control of the institutions", Smilde said.

"Sadly, I have many neighbors who have cried and have seen their children depart for other countries in search of a future", he said.

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