Venezuela’s Guaido calls for more protests to force out Maduro

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Several opposition leaders have been jailed in recent years as Maduro cracked down on growing dissent in the Latin American country, where resistance has escalated with Guaido's spectacular self-proclamation.

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido says humanitarian assistance will begin flowing into the crisis-wracked country within the next few days, despite the objections of President Nicolas Maduro.

The US is Venezuela's largest crude importer, ahead of India and China, but the new measures limit transactions between US companies and state oil company PDVSA.

"Today is the anniversary of 20 years of work, fight, advances and important achievements, despite the difficulties and imperial conspiracies", the president said on twitter.

Key EU nations are prepared to recognize Guaido as the legitimate interim president if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro refuses to call fresh elections by Sunday.

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An "international contact group" announced Thursday by the EU's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, "should help to cease the usurpation of power by Maduro and establish a transitional government until new elections", said Francisco Sucre, who heads the worldwide committee of the opposition-led National Assembly.

The diplomats said European Union governments had felt more comfortable in shifting towards support by basing their position on Venezuela's constitution, which states that the head of congress can take over if the president usurps power, is absent or incapacitated. So far, the Venezuelan military has remained loyal to Maduro.

"We have seen some last-minute looting", the senior administration official said on a conference call with reporters.

The official said Maduro and a dozen other Venezuelan officials were standing in the way of a political transition, and the USA government was open to conversations about how to help them leave the country. "This is time for action".

EFE has reported that Colombian photographer Leonardo Munoz disappeared on Wednesday morning in Caracas and that two more reporters, Spaniard Gonzalo Dominguez and Colombian Mauren Barriga, were later taken away from their office by members of Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin.

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"I believe that they've been very clear", Correa said. From the US' perspective, Venezuela is the beating heart of multipolarity in the hemisphere, and its strategic partnerships with Russian Federation and China make Washington very uncomfortable.

"We want to use our borders to send those foods and medicine", Vecchio said.

Stillhart said that the ICRC now brings in its own medical supplies and emergency trauma care to support six hospitals located across the country.

A defiant Maduro remains dug in, blaming the White House for openly backing what he calls a coup to remove him from power and exploit his country's vast oil wealth. The statement reported, "The U.S. does not recognize ex-president Nicolas Maduro to possess the legal expert to end diplomatic relations with the U.S. or to announce our diplomat's persona non grata".

Turkey's president, Tayyip Erdogan, has stood by Maduro, calling him last week to express support.

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"And something key that he said is that when the military arrives, the United States is going to deliver and protect the humanitarian aid".