Venezuela's Guaido tells Maduro pressure 'just beginning'

Venezuela's Guaido tells Maduro pressure 'just beginning'

Union leaders for state telecoms firm Cantv, national power company Corpoelec, and the foreign ministry told Reuters they would join a public sector strike.

Battered by an economic meltdown, Venezuela descended into a major political crisis when Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and asserted that Nicolas Maduro was no longer legitimate.

Guaido had secretly left Venezuela for Colombia, in violation of a Supreme Court order, to coordinate efforts there on February 23 to send humanitarian aid into Venezuela to alleviate widespread shortages of food and medicine.

"We are going to defeat them, be absolutely sure", he stressed.

Speaking at an event marking the sixth anniversary of the death of his predecessor and political mentor, Hugo Chavez, Maduro said: "While a crazed minority continues with their hatred, with their bitterness, it's their problem". Over three million people have fled Venezuela's poverty, corruption, crime, and despair.

"They thought the pressure had reached its zenith, but it's only just beginning", Guaido told reporters.

Maduro, meanwhile, pressed his supporters to hold "anti-imperialist" marches Saturday, March 9, to counter fresh protests planned by Guaido.

"We are on the right side of history", Maduro said, using the same words previously used by Guaido to refer to the opposition.

Once unknown, the 35-year-old has now gained the support of many Venezuelans and 65 foreign countries, including the U.S., Canada and U.K. He returned to Venezuela Monday after a trip overseas to rally support from the worldwide community.

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"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", Mr Abrams said.

"That's ultimately a decision for Venezuelans to make", Mr Abrams said.

The United States and other countries had warned Mr Maduro not to move against his adversary, and he possibly realised arresting his foe could generate more street protests.

"The public administration is practically paralyzed".

As part of his challenge, Guaido is attempting to take control of the state bureaucracy, which he considers to have been "kidnapped" by Maduro through blackmail and persecution.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama officially designated Venezuela as an "extraordinary threat to the national security" of the USA, with the Trump administration now taking more concrete steps to bring about a regime change in Venezuela.

Guaido then visited Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay to discuss with leaders his plan for a transition government ahead of holding a free and fair election.

President Nicolas Maduro has not been seen in public over the recent days either, and has made no statements after the return of Guaido.

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