USA diplomats leave Caracas embassy as Washington backs Maduro rival

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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday the government would defend Citgo, the US refining subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA, as opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido reportedly considers naming a Citgo board.

The opposition's move aims "to ridicule the democratic will of the Venezuelan people" and "break with the constitutional order duly established in the country", Moreno said. The Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin in support of the Bolivarian revolutionary leader.

The US called for the meeting on Thursday, a day after Guaido proclaimed himself Venezuela's acting president, eliciting immediate backing from President Donald Trump.

"Maduro is the legitimate head of state", he added.

Trump meanwhile has openly mused about military intervention in Venezuela, saying "all options are on the table", and analysts suggest he could consider further economic sanctions against the country, a third of whose oil production goes to the US. "We're willing to help in the mediation. we can't do so just because one of the sides proposes it and says here we are", Lopez Obrador told journalists.

But officials in Russian Federation, one of Venezuela's biggest allies, reacted with anger Thursday at the United States and other Western nations for backing Guaido, accusing them of interfering in the country's internal affairs.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will underline US support for the Venezuelan people at a UN Security Council meeting Saturday and urge members to recognise Guaido as interim president, the State Department said.

Asked whether China recognizes Maduro, Hua recalled that Beijing had sent a representatives to his inauguration earlier this month.

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That was swiftly followed by similar statements from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela's neighbours Brazil and Colombia.

Although many rank-and-file troops suffer the same hardships as countless other Venezuelans when it comes to basic needs like feeding their families, Maduro has worked to cement their support with bonuses and other special benefits.

More than 350 people are reported to have been detained in protests since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president, challenging President Nicolas Maduro, she said. President Donald Trump promised to use the "full weight" of USA economic and diplomatic power to push for the restoration of Venezuela's democracy. Several EU countries came forward with support for the Venezuelan parliament and expressed hope for new elections to resolve the crisis.

"My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!" "Under the leadership of President Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey will maintain its principled stance against all coup attempts".

However, he still has no control over the Venezuelan state and the military, which appears to still be loyal to Maduro despite a deep economic and political crisis.

"From a constitutional, humanitarian, and democratic perspective - and according to worldwide law - there was no option left for the United States and the global community but to recognize Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela", Moises Rendon, associate director and associate fellow of the CSIS Americas Program, told VOA.

Guaido and allies argue that the presidency is vacant as a result and that the constitution calls for the head of congress to assume the interim presidency in such a situation.