Canada announces $53M in aid to people of Venezuela

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Fourteen countries issued their own statements saying Guaido is now the country's legitimate leader, but others refused to follow suit on a decision that exposed how divided the European Union is on major global issues.

"The coward government of Spain has made a bad decision in the history of relations between Spain and Venezuela". Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Lithuania also lined up behind Guaido, who also has the backing of the United States and many South American nations.

"I sent a letter to Pope Francis", Maduro told Italy's SkyTG24 television in an interview broadcast on Monday, with opposition leader Juan Guaido gaining more worldwide support. Yesterday, an array of European Union states also declared Guaido an "interim president".

"We are not beggars", Maduro said in a speech to troops broadcast on Venezuelan state TV.

"I'm with the Venezuelan people against regimes like that of Maduro, based on violence, fear and hunger", League leader Matteo Salvini said last month.

"They use sledgehammers instead of boxing gloves", President Maduro said, accusing the U.S. of seeking his removal so that it could take control of Venezuela's vast oil reserves.

Maduro fired back personally at his global critics during a military exercise in the state of Aragua, east of Caracas.

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CUPE goes on in that statement to accuse the Trudeau government of choosing to side with a self-declared interim leader over President Nicolas Maduro, "who was duly elected by the people of Venezuela".

He won re-election previous year, but critics say it was a sham.

"They have also chosen to side with Donald Trump and USA foreign policy", CUPE said in a statement.

Portugal's Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said the group wants to end Venezuela's political stalemate through the ballot box, preventing a civil war or an "illegitimate foreign intervention".

Guaido has called for a new demonstration on February 12, and another protest to push for the entry of aid. The challenge for the Lima Group is that Mexico opposes measures to oust Maduro.

The moves by European powers further isolate Maduro, who has already lost the recognition of a host of nations, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Israel.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany, once the political circumstances allow it, would also consider providing humanitarian assistance worth €5 million ($5.7 million) to help ease the plight of Venezuelans who are suffering the effects of a country in economic free fall.

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Last month, the Lima Group announced a travel ban on senior Venezuelan officials and a freeze on their foreign assets.

Several of these nations said on January 26 that they would recognize Guaido in the event Maduro refused to call elections within eight days.

In New York, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said U.N. officials will not participate in worldwide initiatives on Venezuela in order to remain neutral. No mention was made of the current situation: millions of Venezuelans don't have enough to eat, there are massive shortages of basic medicines and the country's inflation rate is slated to rise to 10 million per cent this year.

Guaido is "now the only legitimate representative of the Venezuelan state". Guaido urged Uruguay to prevent the move.

The Vatican didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Maduro's appeal.

Maduro blames Washington and other Western nations for sabotaging Venezuela's economy, including through sanctions.

Trump said US military intervention was under consideration in an interview with CBS aired on Sunday.

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