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Venezuelan Military Stands by Maduro

26 January 2019

Britain said Nicolas Maduro was "not the legitimate leader of Venezuela" and that London would support the presidential claim made by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Despite Guaido's personal assurances in Bogota that he would declare himself interim president at a January 23 rally coinciding with the anniversary of the 1958 coup that ended Venezuela's military dictatorship, the suspense lasted until the hours before the announcement, said a Latin American diplomat from the Lima Group who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

His move prompted Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to sever diplomatic ties with the United States and demand its 75 diplomats leave the country.

On Thursday, Maduro instructed all Venezuelan diplomats in the U.S.to return home and closed his country's embassy in Washington.

Pompeo says the USA doesn't recognize the authority of Maduro and that he doesn't have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the U.S.

Guaido, the 35-year-old speaker of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature, was "inaugurated" as acting president Wednesday before thousands of demonstrators, declaring that Maduro's re-election in a widely-condemned vote was illegitimate.

The State Department said it would do whatever necessary to protect US personnel in Caracas.

"If there are no diplomatic relations, no problems", he added.

That was the conclusion drawn from USA contacts with Guaido in the days ahead of his declaration, including two phone calls with Pence, officials said, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Minutes later, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize the man as Venezuela's interim leader.

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Washington has refused to comply with Maduro's order but has ordered its nonessential staff to leave the tumultuous country, citing security concerns.

The success of the uprising will depend on whether the military and the regime's intelligence apparatus continue to support Maduro, analysts say.

A letter by a U.S. Embassy security officer requesting a police escort for a caravan of 10 vehicles was leaked earlier in the day and published on social media by a journalist for state-owned TV network Telesur.

The infographic below-created by Statista-shows the global split of nations either supporting Maduro or backing Guaido.

At least 60 countries have now thrown their support behind Guaido and the street protesters.

China, Mexico, Cuba as well as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, Turkey, are among the nations which have also rejected the attempted coup.

The Trump administration could impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil as soon as this week, according to sources.

Mr Guaido has said this was "the beginning of the end" for Mr Maduro while he pledged to guarantee humanitarian aid and introduce new economic measures.

The US said it stood ready to use "all options" if Maduro tries to quash the opposition, in what was an implied threat of military force. The Venezuelan president's main financial backer China said it opposes "interference" in Venezuelan affairs.

Russian Federation on Thursday accused Washington of stoking street protests and of trying to undermine Maduro, whom it called the country's legitimate president.

Venezuelan Military Stands by Maduro