In the power struggle in Venezuela, the pressure on head of state Nicolás Maduro is growing. In addition to France, Great Britain and Spain, Germany also gave him an ultimatum on Saturday. If he did not set up free elections within eight days, the Federal Government would recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim head of state, as was the case recently with the USA. Venezuela's leadership rejected the ultimatum in the UN Security Council and received support from Russia.
"The people of Venezuela must be free to decide freely about their future," tweeted deputy government spokeswoman Martina Fietz on Saturday. British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said Maduro was not the legitimate president of Venezuela. If Venezuela fails to announce new elections in the coming days, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has promised "further action", including "recognition of the country's leadership".
In the UN Security Council, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo campaigned for further isolation of Maduro. All nations should support the Venezuelan people in their quest to rid themselves of Maduro's "illegitimate mafia state," he said. The humanitarian situation in Venezuela requires immediate action. Nine out of ten citizens lived in poverty and three million were forced to flee their homes. That endangers international peace and security. Pompeo also accused Russia of supporting Maduro in his distress "in the hope of saving billions of dollars of ill-advised investment and assistance that has been made over the years".
No explanation from the UN Security Council
Russia contradicted and rejected the call for a new election. This would only aggravate the domestic political situation. Russian UN Ambassador Vasili Nebensia said that "extremist opponents" of Maduro's legitimate government sought "maximum confrontation", for example, through the artificial creation of a parallel government. US President Donald Trump "arrange a coup" against Maduro. The open interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state must end.
Nebensia also urged Pompeo to make a clear statement as to whether the US was planning to use military force against Venezuela. Addressed by reporters, Pompeo later said he did not want to "speculate on what the US will do next."
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza asked in the Security Council: "Europe gives us eight days, where do you get the power to set a deadline or an ultimatum for a sovereign people," he said. His country "will not be forced on anyone by any decision or order." Ultimately, the Security Council could not agree on a procedure, even a joint statement did not materialize.
The current trigger for the Venezuelan political crisis is that the opposition leader and parliamentary leader Juan Guaidó had appointed himself president on Wednesday. He referred to two constitutional paragraphs, according to which the President of Parliament temporarily takes the presidency, if the post is vacant. Although the post is not vacant, the opposition does not recognize Maduro as a legitimate president, arguing that it was only through election manipulation that he came to office.