Venezuela crisis: Maduro vows to defeat 'crazed minority'
08 March, 2019, 10:13 | Author: Mary Valdez
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro urged his supporters on March 5 to attend "anti-imperialist" rallies on March 9, the same date that anti-government marches will be held by the opposition.
Speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, Maduro said he would defeat a "crazed minority" planning to destabilize the country.
The United States and some 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, arguing that Maduro's re-election a year ago was invalid - partly because popular opposition candidates were barred from running.
"Today more than ever, we are victorious against the conspiracy, against blackmail, while a insane minority continues with their hatred", he said in his first public comments since Juan Guaido's return. The country is also suffering chronic shortages of basic items including food and medicine.
Still, while thousands of Venezuelans heeded Guaido's call for protests coinciding with his return, many worry the government might crack down on the opposition as it has in the past, jailing or driving into exile top opposition leaders.
Maduro's comments were the first since Mr Guaido defied him and returned to the country on Monday. He visited several Latin American countries to lobby for global help. With both political factions holding firm amid increasing deprivation for Venezuelans, some analysts speculate that they might be considering negotiations on an end to the standoff.
"They thought the pressure had reached its zenith, but it's only just beginning", Guaido told reporters.
"In every democratic transition in Latin America there are negotiations, but I just would say it is extremely hard to see how he could play a positive role in a democratic election, " Abrams said.
"That's ultimately a decision for Venezuelans to make", Abrams said.
Despite being under a travel ban since January 30, Guaido secretly left Venezuela for Colombia to help coordinate efforts there on February 23 to force through convoys of USA aid into Venezuela.
Earlier on Tuesday, Washington's top envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said imposing USA secondary sanctions against non-U.S. citizens or entities tied to the Maduro government was "clearly a possibility", although he said a decision had not been made on taking such a step.
"The public administration is practically paralyzed".
"The moment has come and our call, our request, and our complete support for public employees, is to bring about this strike", Guaido said after meeting with state workers. He has called on state officials, who have been historically pressured by the ruling Socialist Party to publicly back Maduro, to disavow the government, and has promised future amnesties for those that do.
Backed by China and Russia, Maduro insists he is the only legitimate president.
Mr Guaido left Venezuela last month despite a court order banning him from foreign travel and visited Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador. Maduro retains control of state institutions and the loyalty of senior figures in the armed forces.
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