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US recognises Venezuela's opposition leader as interim president

The BBC's Barbara Plett-Usher and Rupert Lewis, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona
 
The Trump administration has turned up the pressure on Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, announcing US recognition of the country's opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president and signalling potential new sanctions against its vital oil sector.
 
It came minutes after Mr. Guaido, who is 35 years-old, declared himself as acting leader in Caracas.
 
With street protests against Maduro underway across Venezuela, Mr. Trump said the United States recognised Mr. Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled Congress, as the country's leader and called socialist President Nicolás Maduro's government illegitimate.
 
He said he will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.
 
Canada has also said it will recognise Mr. Guaido as Venezuela's interim president. 
 
But a spokesman for Mexico's foreign ministry said Mexico does not plan to change its policy on Venezuela for the time being. 
 
The situation follows a widely boycotted election last year that the United States and many other foreign governments described as fraudulent.
 
Breaking diplomatic ties 
 
President Nicolás Maduro has told supporters Venezuela is breaking diplomatic relations with the US.
 
He said American diplomats have 72 hours to leave the country.
 
A senior member of the Maduro government has said Venezuela does not care what other countries think.
 
He also said Mr. Guaido violated Venezuela's constitution when he declared himself president.
 
Jamaica reacts 
 
Meanwhile, Professor Emeritus Rupert Lewis, in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona, said the Jamaican government has an obligation to come out against any military intervention in Venezuela. 
 
"The Jamaican government has already compromised itself by voting with the Americans not to recognise the Maduro government, so therefore, what it can do is very limited. However, I think that an intervention can be made which stresses the peaceful resolution of the internal conflict in Venezuela without resort to the use of neighbouring militaries, either of Colombia or the United States," he suggested. 
 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has said it is closely monitoring the developments in Venezuela. 
 
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, it said it was aware of the various reactions from other governments across the hemisphere. 
 
"We wish to make clear that out primary concern remains for the well-being of the people of Venezuela, the maintenance of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law," it said, adding that it is still in support of dialogue "in the hope for a peaceful and amicable resolution to the situation in Venezuela." 
 


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