(CARACAS, Venezuela) — More than a dozen European Union countries endorsed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president on Monday, piling the pressure on embattled President Nicolas Maduro to resign and clear the way for a new presidential election.
Maduro, for his part, stood defiant, rejecting a U.S offer of humanitarian aid that has shifted attention to Venezuela’s western border with Colombia, where opponents were gearing up to try to bring emergency food and medicine into the country.
“We are not beggars,” Maduro said in a speech to troops broadcast on Venezuelan state TV.
Spain, Germany, France and Britain delivered diplomatic blows to Maduro’s rule by publicly supporting Guaido after a Sunday deadline for Maduro to call a presidential election passed without action. Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Poland and Portugal also lined up behind Guaido, who last month declared himself interim president with the support of the United States and many South American nations.
Meanwhile, in Canada, foreign ministers from Western hemisphere nations belonging to the Lima Group, which includes 13 countries that took the lead in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader, gathered in Ottawa to discuss additional steps to pressure Maduro.
Before the closed-door meeting got under way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned a “dictatorship willing to use force and fear” to maintain its power. He also announced $53 million in humanitarian aid to support the Venezuelan people.
“We know that the people of Venezuela are facing tremendous hardship and they need our help, as do the countries that have taken in those fleeing violence,” Trudeau said.
Read more at Time.