Venezuelan opposition leader warns officers to stay away from his family

Venezuela's National Assembly head and self-proclaimed 'acting president' Juan Guaido said he believes the military is fed up of the regime

But the United States and about 20 other countries denied him recognition, saying his re-election was not free and fair, and threw support behind National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as interim president.

The U.S. government has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president and has called for other countries to do so as well.

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday met with exiled Venezuelans in Miami, reassuring them the Trump administration would continue to weaken Maduro. The news comes a day before nationwide street protests called to escalate pressure on the socialist leader to step down.

The diplomats said European Union governments had felt more comfortable in shifting towards support by basing their position on Venezuela's constitution, which states that the head of congress can take over if the president usurps power, is absent or incapacitated.

Guaidó is pressing forward with establishing a transitional government after swearing himself in as the nation's rightful president.

Guaido said he was evaluating how to take control of state-run oil firm PDVSA's US unit Citgo, Venezuela's biggest foreign asset, as the Trump administration tries to use the company as leverage to topple Maduro.

Mr Guaido said that 3.3 million people, which is 15% of the population, have left the country as migrants in the last three years to escape the crisis, with many making their way to neighbouring countries like Peru and Ecuador on foot. Mexico and Uruguay have maintained their recognition of Maduro and have offered to host worldwide talks in hopes of resolving the dispute peacefully.

Guterres said he did not have the authority to recognize governments but added that he "respects the decisions taken by the General Assembly and the Security Council", which are divided on who leads Venezuela.

"We're in a historic battle", Maduro told several hundred troops standing in formation around armoured vehicles. He said they had with them two AK-47 rifles, two satellite phones and 500 bracelets bearing the symbol of Operation Consti-tution, a political group dedicated to toppling Maduro.

He said: "Power is evaporating from Maduro's hands with the passing of the hours". Last week, street protests turned violent in days of unrest that killed almost three dozen people in clashes with government security forces.

"There is no possible discussion here".

In interviews and press conferences, Guaido stresses again and again his team's push to safeguard Venezuela's few remaining assets so that they can be used to fund the flow of humanitarian aid into the crisis-torn country.

"We are going to address the humanitarian emergency, stop inflation in its tracks, reactivate the oil industry and move towards the restoration of access to public goods and services", he said to cheers from the audience.

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