Venezuela’s Self-declared Leader Calls For European Support

Venezuela’s self-declared president Juan Guaido has told Sky News his country needs the help of European countries to rebuild.

In an interview with Sky’s Stuart Ramsay, he said: “I think it’s not just about the help of the United States, it’s ultimately at an international level. With European countries that are willing to help rebuild.”

He is challenging Nicolas Maduro for the country’s presidency in a move that has been backed by most Western powers.

Mr Guaido also revealed there have been threats against his life but shrugged them off as part of the reality of opposition politics.

“My generation in Venezuela grew up in dictatorship and we’ve had to deal with losing friends, to protest, see them imprisoned or seeing them being tortured – that’s the reality,” he said.
And he described Mr Maduro as a “usurper” in the home of the Venezuelan president.

The politician said a new government would boost investment into his country.

He said: “I think the Russians and the Chinese know that with a new government, investments will have worth with a country that wouldn’t have two million percent inflation – [there was] two million percent inflation last year – that doesn’t have the largest contraction in GDP in the history of this continent – 53% in the last 5 years.”

Mr Guaido spoke of a future Venezuela which had a “healthy relationship with the whole world” and was able to pay its debts and invest. He said he wanted to show the possibility of a new “legitimate” government.

“The most important element for any economy is trust,” he said. “A new government is going to have the trust to develop – most importantly on energy, but also the development of industry that generates employment, that generates a welfare state, that generates progress, that generates social security, that brings back international investment.

“There are lots of businesses around the world that are interested in investing in Venezuelan petrol, in tourism, amongst other things.”

Mr Guaido declared himself interim president last week, a fortnight after Mr Maduro was sworn in for another term as leader.

The 35-year-old leader of the country’s National Assembly told crowds in the capital, Caracas, that he would steer the country until new elections were held.

Anti-government protests took place after Mr Guaido’s speech, with the UN saying at least 20 people had died.

Mr Maduro’s time in office has been marked by economic collapse, hyperinflation and shortages of many basic goods and medicines.

But crucially, for now, he still commands the loyalty of the military and most of the working class.

Russia, China, Mexico and Turkey are notable exceptions.

European powers have given Mr Maduro until the weekend to announce new elections or they will officially recognise Mr Guaido.

Last May’s election, boycotted by Venezuela’s opposition, has been accused of being a sham by many countries in the West.

Sky News

News Reporter

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