Venezuela : Nicolas Maduro open to EU initiative, Guaido plans aid corridor

CARACAS, Jan. 10, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during the presidential inauguration ceremony in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 10, 2019. Nicolas Maduro was sworn in before the Supreme Court of Justice to begin a new six-year term on Thursday. (Xinhua/Andrea Romero/IANS)

Caracas, Feb
9. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed the European
Union
(EU)-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela, but
said he would be prepared to meet its representatives, while self-proclaimed
interim head of state Juan Guaido said his supporters were ready to create a
humanitarian corridor if the incumbent blocks international aid.

“I’m
ready and willing to receive any envoy from the contact group,” Maduro
told a press conference on Friday at the presidential palace, though he
rejected the “partisan, ideological” lens through which its members
view the oil-rich nation, reports Efe news.

The contact
group, which seeks a solution to Venezuela’s political and economic crisis
through dialogue and new presidential elections, includes Germany, the UK,
Spain and France, and a handful of Latin American countries such as Uruguay,
Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Mexico participated at the group’s
inaugural meeting on Thursday in Montevideo, but did not sign a statement
calling for new presidential elections in Venezuela.

Leftist-led
Bolivia
also
refused to support snap presidential elections in Venezuela.

The US,
Canada, numerous Latin American countries and the major European
powers all consider Maduro’s May 2018 re-election victory to be tainted by
fraud and have recognised Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-controlled
National Assembly, as Interim President.

Guaido, speaking on Friday at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, said that if Maduro continues to prevent the entry of a shipment of humanitarian aid from the neighbouring Colombia, the opposition would mobilise to create a corridor so the assistance could reach Venezuelans in need.

His pledge
followed comments by the US Ambassador to Colombia urging the Venezuelan
military to allow the aid to enter the country.

Venezuelan
armed forces officers and troops have the opportunity to participate in a
humanitarian campaign that would help alleviate severe problems in their
country, which is suffering from widespread shortages of food and medicine and
hyperinflation, Kevin Whitaker said in the Colombian border city of Cucuta.

Maduro has
thus far used the military to block the aid from entering Venezuela, denying
that the country is suffering a humanitarian crisis and saying the delivery of
the shipments would be a prelude to a US-led military intervention.

US President
Donald Trump has imposed severe sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and was
the first recognise Guaido as Interim President within hours of his January 23
proclamation.

Trump said
last month that “all options are on the table” in dealing with
Maduro.

Mexican
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reiterated on Friday that the only path
to a solution of the crisis in Venezuela is dialogue between the government and
opposition.

Lopez
Obrador, as he has done throughout the current crisis, referred again to the
foreign policy principles set out in Mexico’s constitution: non-intervention,
self-determination of peoples, peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for
human rights.

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