Venezuela opposition warns military against preventing entry of aid

Foreign Ministers of the Lima Group gather for a meeting concerning Venezuela in Lima Peru Friday Jan. 4 2019

Speaking to the Voice of America, Guterres said, "Venezeula must decide the solution, elections are always a possibility".

Meanwhile, the Lima Group, a working group of 14 countries in the Americas, met in Ottawa for the first time since Guaido declared himself president on January 23.

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, referring to the decision to recognise Guaido as president. Maduro's adversaries have warned that Venezuelan officials are seeking to drain state coffers ahead of a potential change of government.

The statement added that Trudeau "commended Juan Guaido for his courage and leadership in helping to return democracy to Venezuela and offered Canada's continued support".

Earlier, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said that his country should refrain from supporting the proposed European Union position recognising Juan Guaidó as interim President of Venezuela.

The crisis in Venezuela came to a boiling point when Maduro was recently sworn in for a second term as Venezuela's president, despite global criticism that his re-election is illegitimate.

Venezuela's opposition on Wednesday said it would use a USA -based fund to receive some of the country's oil income in a key step to bankroll its efforts to dislodge President Nicolas Maduro.

Yon Goicoechea, a member of Guaido's policy team, told Reuters that Guaido was in contact with PDVSA's worldwide partners and they were willing to keep operating in Venezuela.

Canada and its Latin American allies in the Lima Group, along with the United States, have been pushing for Maduro's departure.

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Guaido must still find a way to bring in the humanitarian aid given the military's loyalty to Maduro.

Guaido claimed on Monday that the armed forces were planning on diverting the stockpiled aid meant for those most in need to regime supporters through the government's subsidized food program.

On Saturday, an air-force general defected to the opposition and reportedly fled to Colombia.

Maduro told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 on Monday that he had sent the letter to the pope "for help in the process of facilitating and reinforcing dialogue".

"Under Maduro's stewardship, oil-dependent Venezuela has plunged into an economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine". Taking a jibe at the US President, he said: "So we have to go through a war to reconsider our relationship and our respect?"

Guaido is "now the only legitimate representative of the Venezuelan state". Washington has repeatedly demanded that Maduro should resign from his post.

He has supported plans for a meeting of Latin American and European Union states in a "Contact Group" in Montevideo on Thursday, though, saying it would lead to "dialogue".

Mr Guaido has called for further protests.

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