Maduro rejects ultimatum from European Union, urges Trump to stop intefering

Italy does not recognize the result of Venezuela's presidential election last May, which Maduro won, and wants new elections as soon as possible, Italy's foreign minister told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

Seven EU states had given Maduro a Sunday deadline to call presidential elections or they would recognize Guaido.

The worldwide pressure on Venezuelan leader Maduro intensified on Monday as a host of European Union nations declared his rival Guaido as interim president.

"We are working for the return of full democracy in Venezuela: human rights, elections, and no more political prisoners", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised announcement.

Guaido allies plan to take a large quantity of food and medicine donated by the United States, multilateral organizations and non-profit groups across the Colombian border into the Venezuelan state of Tachira this week, according to a person directly involved in the effort.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said Venezuelans have the right to "express themselves freely and democratically".

Maduro, who has maintained the critical support of the military, has said Guaido is staging a US-directed coup against him. "Attempts to legitimize usurped power" constituted "interference in Venezuela's internal affairs", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Other allies: Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, North Korea, Turkey and Uruguay back Maduro as leader.

Trudeau spoke on Sunday to Guaido and the two "discussed the importance of the worldwide community sending a clear message regarding the illegitimacy of the Maduro regime", Trudeau's office said.

"I don't accept ultimatums from anybody", Maduro told Spanish TV channel La Sexta in an interview broadcast late Sunday.

"I think we are at a very critical point in the history of Venezuela", said Alan Duncan, Britain's junior foreign minister, among a number of European representatives attending the Lima Group meeting. Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, the Czech Republic and Portugal also lined up behind Guaido, the self-declared interim president who also has the support of the United States and many South American nations.

Foreign ministers from the Lima Group countries - Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia, alongside representatives from the U.K, the European Union and the US - met in Ottawa today to further solidify support for Guaido as protests over the legitimacy of Maduro's government continue to fill the streets in Venezuela. "The Venezuelan people deserve a better future".

Guaido is expected to announce a date for the arrival of humanitarian aid from the United States - a path Maduro believes will lead to a US-led military intervention. The European Parliament has called on all EU countries to do so.

Tens of thousands of people turned out Saturday for competing shows of support for Guaido and for Maduro who was sworn in on January 10 to a disputed second six-year term.

Theories about a potential US military incursion into Venezuela multiplied after US National Security Adviser John Bolton was spotted with a notepad that mentioned "5,000 troops to Colombia".

Maduro also claimed that "the military option is on Donald Trump's table". Eleven of its members have recognised Guaido.

  • Rogelio Becker