Minutes after he declared himself Venezuela’s interim president, opposition leader Juan Guaido received full recognition from US President Donald Trump.
“In its role as the only legitimate branch of government elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant,” Trump said in a statement.
Trump also stated that he “will continue to use the full weight of the United States’ economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”
Nicolas Maduro responded by announcing that the country has cut its diplomatic ties with the US as of Wednesday.
Addressing supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas, Nicolas Maduro said he would give US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
RT @PresidencialVen: #EnVivo | “Here the will of the people, national sovereignty and the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will prevail over any coup attempt”, said @NicolasMaduro #LasCallesSonDelChavismo pic.twitter.com/N3JzvEtwe7
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) January 23, 2019
Following Trump’s recognition of Guaido as the legitimate president, Colombia, Brazil, and Paraguay also recognized the congress chairman as the interim president of Venezuela.
Turkish support for Maduro
Mexico, on the other hand, announced that the country would continue to recognize Maduro’s legitimacy.
Maduro said that he also had received the support of Turkey, claiming that he had received a call from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a tweet that Erdogan had called Maduro in solidarity.
“Brother Maduro, stand tall, we are with you,” Erdogan told Maduro, according to Kalin.
Pompeo urges Maduro to step down
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called on Maduro to step down, urging the country’s military and security forces to support “democracy” and to protect the citizens.
“Venezuelan people have suffered long enough under Nicolas Maduro’s disastrous dictatorship,” said Pompeo.
Backed by the US and some Latin American neighbouring countries’ endorsements in seeking a transition, the Guaido-led congress declared Maduro a “usurper” last week and requested foreign governments to freeze the bank accounts controlled by the “illegitimate” government.
On Tuesday US Vice President Mike Pence issued a video message of support for those protesting against Maduro.
Maduro’s rise to the top office
Venezuela’s leftist leader Maduro came to power in 2013 following the death of Hugo Chavez. Maduro was re-elected in a disputed election in May 2018 with 68 percent of the vote. He promised that he would supply starving families with food if the nation voted for him.
Opposition leaders and the international community have denounced his election as illegitimate.
An estimated three million Venezuelan citizens have left Venezuela since 2014 when the country’s economy started to deteriorate.