Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of trying to secretly transfer up to $1.2 billion from public funds to a bank in Uruguay as he warns a civil war could break out.
Opposition leader, Juan Guaido, alleged President Nicolas Maduro today of trying to illicitly transfer billions of dollars in cas from public coffers to a bank in Uruguay.
He said Maduro was seeking to move the money from the Venezuelan Economic and Social Development Bank to Uruguay and called on the Montevideo government ‘not to lend itself to stealing’.
‘We are talking about between $1 billion and $1.2 billion dollars,’ said Guaido, who was recognised as Venezuela’s interim president Monday by more than 15 European states.
Maduro also warned there may be a civil war in Venezuela unless foreign nations stop intervening in its ‘internal affairs’.
Threat of war: President Maduro, pictured speaking to troops on Sunday, refused to rule out starting a civil war in Venezuela to deal with the crisis
Rallying troops: Maduro visited a military base in Turiamo, north-western Venezuela, where he asked the troops to take care of the ‘union’ and ‘loyalty’ to the National Armed Forces
Supported: A number of EU countries, including UK, France and Spain, announced Monday they recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president after the Sunday deadline was ignored by Maduro
He said that the US, as well as other Western nations, needed to stop their ‘aggressiveness’ or President Donald Trump risked ‘staining his hands with blood’.
His threats came as a number of EU countries, including France, the UK, and Spain, announced that they recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president, after Maduro failed to call a snap election before yesterday’s deadline.
In response, the Venezuelan government ‘expressed its most energetic rejection’ of their support for Guaido, and said it will revise bilateral relations with any country who does so.
Maduro said in an interview that aired on Spanish TV channel Antena 3 on Sunday: ‘We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone,’ adding: ‘I refuse to call for elections now – there will be elections in 2024.’
When asked if the current crisis could result in civil war, he said: ‘No-one could answer that question with certainty,’ adding that this depends on ‘the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire [the US] and its Western allies.’
WHO RECOGNISES JUAN GUAIDO AS INTERIM PRESIDENT?
Announced today: France, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, Finland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands.
Previously: US, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Paraguay.
President Trump meanwhile said in an interview that aired on Sunday that military intervention in Venezuela was ‘an option.’
Maduro said: ‘We ask that nobody intervenes in our internal affairs… and we prepare ourselves to defend our country.
‘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,’ he said according to the BBC.
Maduro was pictured on Sunday visiting a military base in Turiamo, north-western Venezuela, where he asked the troops to take care of the ‘union’ and ‘loyalty’ to the National Armed Forces.
Recognition: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt tweeted about the UK’s backing of Guaido
Holding on: President Nicolas Maduro has so far rejected calls by European countries to call an early election
Two sides: Anti-government protesters wave Venezuelan national flags as they take part in a demonstration demanding Maduro’s resignation in Caracas on Saturday
President’s fans: Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro hold up a banner with a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump and a message that reads in Spanish: ‘Get out the White House Donald Trump, you and your wall’ during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday
The UK, Spain, France, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden have all announced that they are recognizing Guaido as the country’s interim president and are urging him to hold a new presidential election.
‘UK alongside European allies now recognises @jguaido as interim constitutional president until credible elections can be held. Let’s hope this takes us closer to ending humanitarian crisis,’ British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Twitter.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters in Madrid on Monday that ‘we are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: human rights, elections and no more political prisoners.’
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking Monday to France Inter Radio, urged Guaido to call an early presidential election that will ensure ‘the Venezuelan crisis ends peacefully.’
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Swedish broadcaster SVT the vote that brought Maduro to power was not a ‘free and fair election.’
The Venezuelan government has responded to the statements flooding out of the EU by saying it is revising bilateral relations with any member states to recognise Guaido as legitimate head-of-state.
The government ‘expresses its most energetic rejection of the decision adopted by some European governments, in which they officially submit to the U.S. administration’s strategy to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro,’ it said in a statement.
Protesters display a Venezuelan flag as they pour to the streets to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s calls for early elections in Caracas on Saturday
The 14-nation Lima Group, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, will meet in Ottawa today to discuss the crisis.
Most group members say Maduro should quit in favor of Guaido and are calling for a new presidential election in the troubled OPEC nation.
Monday’s meeting in Ottawa will also discuss how to aid the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance, said the office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Last month, the Lima Group announced a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials and a freeze on their foreign assets.
Guaido stunned the world on January 23 when he declared himself acting president at an opposition rally.
Taking his authority from the constitution as National Assembly leader, he said Maduro’s presidency was ‘illegitimate’ as it was founded on flawed elections.
Guaido is trying to force the socialist leader from power so he can set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections in the struggling country.
Already recognised by the US, Canada, Australia and several Latin American countries, he began to exercise authority for the first time this weekend, calling on the army to allow in humanitarian aid to a nation wracked by economic crisis.
President Trump’s administration last week issued sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA in a move likely to cut revenues for a country hit by medicine shortages and malnutrition.
Trudeau spoke on Sunday to Guaido and the two ‘discussed the importance of the international community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime,’ Trudeau’s office said.