Who backs whom in Venezuela crisis

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European Union states have been debating for days how to address the Venezuela crisis, with ten countries recognising the opposition leader after the expiry of a deadline for President Nicolas Maduro to call a new election.

But key Maduro ally Russian Federation slammed European "interference" in the oil-rich but impoverished Latin American country, saying it was an attempt "to legitimize usurped power".

Guaido is trying to force from power the socialist leader - labelled a dictator by the West and his Latin American neighbors after presiding over Venezuela's economic collapse - aiming to set up a transitional government and hold new presidential elections. Critics have called that election a sham and the mainstream opposition boycotted it. "So U.K. alongside European allies now recognizes Guaido as interim constitutional president".

"I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process", he said in a "Face the Nation" interview.

Maduro and Guaido have been battling for legitimacy in a struggle that has drawn in the world's major powers on one side or the other.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt took to Twitter to express the UK's support for Guaido, now that London's demand that Venezuela hold snap presidential elections has expired.

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said as he announced Madrid had recognised Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly who declared himself last month to be the oil-rich South American country's interim ruler.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was another leading political figure to endorse Guaido as interim president, while also urging him to call an election in the near future. "I hope we will have a positive answer [from him]", Maduro told Italian news channel SkyTg24.

"We really believe that what we are doing is not only for Venezuela, it's the fall of the Berlin wall in Latin America and it's a new chapter for history".

Mr. Marulanda said the recent Russian arrivals are special forces - Spetsnaz - who are being embedded among Venezuela's elite military units to better resist any USA intervention or internal coup against Mr. Maduro.

The 14-nation so-called Lima Group, which includes Canada and Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico but not the United States, met in Ottawa to discuss the way forward on Venezuela.

Mrs May yesterday called for an immediate end to Maduro's regime, which has led to crippling food and water shortages and hyperinflation of 1.3million per cent.

The 35-year-old Guaido, accused by Maduro's government of staging a US -directed coup, has galvanized Venezuela's opposition with a hopeful message.

Trudeau, who has been personally involved in the crisis, spoke with Guaido by telephone on Sunday.

Canada has announced a humanitarian relief package for Venezuela.

Yesterday, Maduro warned the European Union not to be "dragged along by the craziness" of Donald Trump, who has threatened military intervention.

In a statement, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry rejected the announcements by European countries, charging that they were "officially joining the US' strategy to overthrow the legitimate Government of President Nicolas Maduro".

Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday for competing shows of support for Guaido and for Maduro who was sworn in on January 10 to a disputed second six-year term.

Maduro, for his part, stood defiant, rejecting a U.S offer of humanitarian aid that has shifted attention to Venezuela's western border with Colombia, where opponents were gearing up to try to bring emergency food and medicine into the country.

Our worldwide editor Lindsey Hilsum is in Caracas.

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