Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has ruled out standing down or calling new presidential elections in a television interview on the Spanish program Salvados on La Sexta network. “I don’t accept ultimatums from anybody. International politics is not based on ultimatums. Why does the EU have to give orders to a country?” he said, referencing the European Union’s threat it would recognize Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela if Maduro did not hold elections within eight days.
During the interview, Maduro attacked the legitimacy of Guaidó’s leadership claims
That deadline passed at midnight on Sunday and the EU is now expected to officially recognize Guaidó, who declared himself Venezuela’s interim president last week, as the leader of Venezuela. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took that step on Monday morning.
At the end of the show, presenter Jordo Évole called Guaidó in front of Maduro but his cellphone was turned off, and he was invited to leave a message. Maduro told Guaidó: “Think hard about what you are doing, you are a young man, you have many years of struggle ahead of you. Don’t do any more damage to the country. Stop this coup strategy. Stop imitating a presidency that nobody chose. And if you want to contribute something, sit down face to face, at the negotiating table. Politics is not a game for boys, it demands a lot of responsibility, a lot of wisdom. So I call on you, don’t let foreign governments or old right-wing leaders use you.”
During the interview, Maduro attacked the legitimacy of Guaidó’s leadership claims. “There is only one president of Venezuela,” he said. “This person is not authorized by any [legal] article. It is an act of clownery declaring yourself president in a plaza. He has no constitutional, legal, ceremonial, formal basis.” According to Maduro, “they are looking to divide us and stage an intervention that will impose a puppet government. They want to build the impression that a parallel government exists in the international media but it doesn’t exist in reality.”
The people are already arming themselves
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro
Maduro claims the mobilization of the opposition and Guaidó’s declaration are part of a coup attempt. “It’s a very dangerous campaign, like what they did in Libya,” he warned.
The president also defended the decision to arm civilian militias: “This is the people organizing with weapons in neighborhoods, factories, universities. Two million. There are 50,000 units each with a sergeant. The people are already arming themselves.”
On the risk of an internal armed conflict, Maduro said: “It doesn’t depend on us,” explaining “it all depends on the level of craziness and aggression from the north empire and its allies. They want to return to the 20th century, to plunder our natural resources. It can’t happen.”
Maduro argued he had made “thousands of public and private proposals” to speak with the Venezuelan opposition and the US government, which he believes has refused his offers out of racism: “The white supremacist that govern the White House totally disrespect our people.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.