Embattled Venezuela president ‘ready to negotiate’ with opposition

Embattled Venezuela president ‘ready to negotiate’ with opposition

The rival marches will take place in different districts of a tense Venezuelan capital.

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in in Caracas, Venezuela February 1, 2019.

Major European countries have set a Sunday deadline for Maduro to call snap presidential elections.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton has tweeted that the United States plans to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela despite President Nicolas Maduro's refusal to accept aid.

Guaido told CNN that he was appreciative of the USA support, which included a phone call Wednesday from President Donald Trump, adding that he has also spoken with a number of other world leaders.

Asked whether he has had any talks with Maduro, Guaido said simply: "No".

The military and security forces have so far been Maduro's main pillar of support, but there have been signs of unrest in the ranks.

President Nicolas Maduro is facing the hardest challenge to his rule after being accused of election fraud and overseeing a deep economic collapse.

Speaking at a pro-regime demonstration marking 20 years since his predecessor Hugo Chavez came to power, Maduro ignored those demands and instead reiterated his call to bring forward parliamentary elections slated for the end of 2020 to this year. He mentioned Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, the Vatican and Russian Federation.

More than 40 people are believed to have been killed in political violence last week, including 26 shot by pro-Government forces, five killed in house raids and 11 during looting, United Nations human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.

The worldwide heave against Maduro's leftist regime came after weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomacy including secret talks in Washington between Guaido and U.S. officials.

Maduro has been in charge since 2013 but his re-election in May was branded illegitimate by the European Union, United States and Organisation of American States.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence on Friday once again threatened Maduro while addressing a gathering in Miami, saying it is time for him to step down. "This is time for action", the vice president said.

But that offer has been rejected by Guaido, who describes it as a ploy by the Maduro administration to buy time. President of Mexico and Uruguay have jointly called a conference in Montevideo next Thursday for neutral countries to discuss the crisis.

Previous negotiations all had the same "unsatisfactory result", Guaido wrote.

Maduro's adversaries say he has run roughshod over democratic institutions and destroyed the once-buoyant economy through a corruption-riddled exchange control system and arbitrary nationalizations. "They're not going to succeed in intimidating this Venezuelan family".

Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has lurched into an economic crisis that has left the country with hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.

"In the next few days, we will be asking for your help to go get this aid", Guaido said, asking the armed forces to allow a humanitarian corridor.

The military high command, led by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, has sworn absolute loyalty to Maduro despite signs of unrest within the ranks.

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