USA intensifies push against Maduro as Russian Federation backs Venezuelan ally

Juan Guaido president of National Assembly shows marks on his wrists which he says are from handcuffs to supporters at a rally in Caraballeda Venezuela Sunday Jan. 13 2019. The new head of Venezuela's increasingly defiant congress was pulled from

Trump Recognises Venezuela’s Opp Leader Juan Guaido as Acting President

The Trump administration ordered all non-essential American diplomatic staff and government personnel in Venezuela to leave the South American nation, which has been roiled by escalating political unrest.

Canada closed its embassy in Caracas for the day Thursday and said it would assess whether to open it day-to-day, based on the degree of upheaval.

Bolivia, Cuba, Turkey and Russian Federation, among others, have not followed suit and continue to back Maduro as the rightful president, accusing the US and others of interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs.

Although it stopped short of following Washington and recognizing Guaido as interim president, it appealed for him to be protected and appeared to support calls for a peaceful transition of power away from Maduro.

But other nations, including Russia, China, Mexico and Turkey, are backing Maduro, who has thus far refused to step down.

As two declared presidents vie for power in Venezuela, a United Nations human rights official says at least 20 people have died in protest-related violence this week in the Latin American country, sparking her concern that the situation there "may rapidly spiral out of control". It was "a preplanned action, and it was certainly coordinated by the United States", he added.

The Holness administration has not said whether it will order Venezuela to recall its ambassador to Kingston.

Guaido called out Maduro as he took a revised oath of office before a crowd of thousands in Caracas, saying, "I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government and hold free elections".

Maduro was inaugurated on January 10 to another term in office following a widely boycotted election past year that many foreign governments described as a fraudulent.

But for now, Venezuela's military leaders have vowed to stand behind Maduro's regime.

Pictures showing Venezuela's embattled president holding an ancient Turkic flag or picking up a Turkish flag off the ground as a sign of respect have been widely circulated on social media. He said the armed forces will never accept a leader forced on their country.

Speaking later to red-shirted supporters outside the presidential palace, Maduro recited US interventions in Latin America during the Cold War.

But Pompeo said the US would instead abide by Guaido's directive that countries retain their diplomatic missions in the South American country.

"I am extremely concerned that the situation in Venezuela may rapidly spiral out of control with catastrophic consequences", Bachelet said. "They only have interests, guts and the ambition to take Venezuela's oil, gas and gold", he said, rattling off a long list of US-backed military coups, including in Guatemala, Chile and Brazil.

In a video addressing the military earlier this week, Guaido said the constitution required them to disavow Maduro after his re-election in May 2018, because his main opponents were banned from running.

The key people in this crisis are the security forces, like the police and army.

"These funds are to help them cope with the severe food and medicine shortages and other dire impacts of their country's political and economic crisis", Pompeo told a gathering of ambassadors from the Organization of American States (OAS).

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