United Nations rejects call to join Venezuela mediation efforts

UK and other European countries recognise Guaidó as Venezuela's leader

Major European nations joined the United States on Monday in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate head of state, while members of a separate regional bloc kept up the pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro. He was boosted on Saturday by the defection of a top air force general. The U.S.is not a Lima Group member, but its denunciations of Maduro and its recognition of Guaido are viewed as being in lockstep with the coalition meeting in Ottawa, according to several government sources.

Eurasia Group analysts say the humanitarian crisis "represents a lose-lose gambit for Maduro" who will either have to allow the goods to enter the country, further bolstering Guaido, or force the military to block their entry, risking a backlash in the streets.

"Here in Venezuela nothing will enter, not one invading soldier", said Maduro, who claims humanitarian aid would be a precursor to a US-led invasion.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland branded the Maduro government a dictatorship that has shown an inexcusable disregard for the rule of law and human rights. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has said Venezuela's armed forces disavow any self-proclaimed president.

Monday's declaration came after Guaido made a larger-than-life appeal to Canada and its Western Hemisphere partners to end the "usurpation" of democracy in his country. "I would like to reaffirm ... our actions and our co-operation with the Lima Group, along with Canada, and all the countries".

Trudeau said the money will go toward addressing the basic needs of most Venezuelans and assisting more than three million Venezuelan refugees overseas. Canada has already contributed $2.2 million for the humanitarian crisis that's forced some three million Venezuelans from their homes, sending ripples across the region - particularly in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia, which are now faced with a refugee crisis.

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The 17-point statement welcomed Julio Borges as Guaido's representative before the group, pledging to collaborate with the opposition politician.

Alan Duncan, Britain's minister for the Americas and Europe, said Maduro's "mismanagement and kleptocratic approach" are singularly responsible for crippling his country's economy.

Russian Federation slammed what it called interference in the oil-rich but now poor Latin American country, saying it was an attempt to 'legitimise usurped power'.

The 16 countries are - Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.

"We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom", Donald Trump reiterated during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, offering full support for the Venezuelan opposition and the leader of the National Assembly.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met the press along with Abe after their talks in Tokyo, said Guaido is the rightful person to take part in talks with Berlin and other European nations.

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