Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan leader who has been denounced by European leaders, has called US President Donald Trump an extremist, and has likened him to the “head of the KKK”.
European countries, including the UK, have formally recognised Juan Guaido as President of Valenzuela, but Maduro insists he will not give up his power. He still has the support of Russia, China, Turkey, and his own military.
Maduro has also said that he was written to the Pope asking for help to “faciliate and strengthen dialogue” to resolve the issues facing the country. Tension has been heightened since Trump claimed that US military intervention in Venezuela is “an option”.
“Europe and the world need to know that the White House has been taken over by an extremist. It is like the Klu Klux Klan arrived in the White House and Donald Trump is the head of the KKK. He’s surrounded by a group of people they call the Venezuela team.”
Maduro claimed that Mike Pence, the US vice president; John Bolton, national security adviser to Mr Trump; and the secretary of state Mike Pompeo were all part of the “supremacist” group. He said they “dedicate themselves daily to conspire against Venezuela” – including the option of “a military coup”.
Russia is one of the few foreign powers to have spoken out in his favour, with the Kremlin having condemned European countries for recognising Mr Guaido as acting president.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Vladimir Putin, said the move was an attempt “to legitimise usurped power” and would not result in a “peaceful, effective and lasting settlement of the crisis the Venezuelans are going through”.
Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said 34 countries have so far recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader until new elections are held.
Last week, Guaido used an interview with Sky News to plea to European countries to recognise him as president and help him rebuild a country flailing from economic collapse.