Caracas (AP) - The self-proclaimed Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó wants to win the power struggle with head of state Nicolás Maduro on the street.
For next week, the opposition leader announced another mass demonstration. "We go back to the street. The way is clear: end of the usurpation, interim government, free elections, "he said on Friday at a rally in Caracas cheering supporters.
The head of parliament had declared himself a transitional chief of state on Wednesday and denied legitimacy to President Nicolás Maduro. The US and many Latin American countries immediately recognized the counter-president as the legitimate head of state. However, Maduro can still count on the armed forces. Guaidó called on the military on Friday to support the opposition. "Soldiers, stand on the side of the Venezuelan people."
He admonished his adherents to unity. "The regime wants to sow doubt and drive a wedge between us, but we are stronger than ever," he said. "Venezuela has woken up to make his dream a reality. Nobody comes here. »
He was willing to negotiate with Maduro's socialist government only under certain conditions. "Nobody is available for a false dialogue," he said. "It is discussed only about the end of the unlawful seizure of power and free elections." Maduro, however, renewed his offer of talks. "I'm ready for dialogue," he said. "I stay to my word."
Mexico had previously offered to mediate in the crisis in Venezuela. However, the conflicting parties would first have to submit a corresponding request, said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The talks on a peaceful solution to the power struggle could then take place in Mexico.
At least 29 people were killed during the anti-government protests in recent days, according to the Observatory of Social Conflicts (OVCS). According to the human rights organization Foro Penal, 369 protesters were arrested. Guaidó called on the government opponents not to be discouraged: "They may be able to cut off a flower, but not stop spring."
The US requested a UN Security Council emergency meeting on Saturday on Venezuela. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas supported the motion, but did not expect swift results. "It will only be the prelude to the referral of the Security Council," he said in New York. Germany has been one of the ten rotating members of the UN Security Council for two years since 1 January.
Maduro announced that he would send his Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to the meeting in New York. "We welcome the debate in the UN Security Council to publicly condemn the interference of imperialism in Venezuela. We're ready, "Maduro wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has appointed controversial diplomat Elliott Abrams Special Representative for the crisis in Venezuela. The 71-year-old was involved in, among other things, the Iran-Contra affair and allegedly rejected the attempted coup against Venezuela's then head of state Hugo Chávez. "We fight the attempt of a coup d'état, supervised by the US Empire, which wants to use a puppet government," said Maduro.
Meanwhile, the federal government considered Guaidó's recognition as a transitional chief of state if it did not come to fair and free elections quickly. "Venezuela needs free and fair elections now. In the context of the forthcoming EU consultations, the Federal Government is in favor of recognizing Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country, unless such free and fair elections take place immediately, »said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.
Such a move would be unusual for the federal government. "Actually, we only recognize states in Germany and no governments. But this is a special case and we therefore reserve the right to do so, "said Federal Foreign Minister Maas on the ZDF journal heute heute. It will now depend on what Maduro is doing. "There are offers for talks that are not meant to be so serious. And that is why the international community now has to increase pressure, "said the SPD politician.
Venezuela, which has around 30 million inhabitants, has been in a deep political and economic crisis for a long time. Many government opponents are in custody or in exile. Due to a lack of foreign exchange, the once rich country can barely import food, medicines and everyday necessities. Around three million Venezuelans have already fled abroad.