Caracas: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to defend his homeland as the country has been embroiled in a political turmoil since National Assembly leader Juan Guaido claimed himself interim President.
Both Maduro and Guaido on Saturday held separate rallies in Caracas and from their respective bastions promised to put in order a country that today is weathering an unprecedented economic, political and social crisis, reports Efe news.
"I vow, 20 years after the Bolivarian Revolution, to defend our beloved country, maintain its civic-military union, and crush imperialist intervention," Maduro said before thousands of supporters from west Caracas.
Maduro, who interprets Guaido's declaring himself the interim President as a coup d'etat planned in Washington, addressed US President Donald Trump to call himself Venezuela's only President and say he will remain in power "all the days" of his term in office.
He added that US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton are "hawks" who are "obsessed with Venezuela" and have tricked the US President into thinking the opposition now rules the Caribbean country.
"They fooled you and you, what do you think? The emperor of the world? Do you think Venezuela will knuckle under and obey your orders? Well listen, Venezuela won't surrender, Venezuela is moving on," Maduro said.
He reiterted that he wants dialogue with the opposition and again thanked Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) for taking steps to promote these talks among Venezuelans.
Guaido, however, made it clear that he will only enter into talks with Chavismo on condition that Maduro cease to "usurp" the presidency, and that he opens the way to a transition government and "free elections".
"It's not just about standing behind the constitution as a soldier of the nation. No, your role is to reconstruct Venezuela, enforce sovereignty, drive out the ELN from the Venezuelan border, and establish governability, sovereignty and security," Guaido said from the platform where he addressed thousands of supporters.
But at the same time Venezuela's opposition maintained pressure on leftist President Nicolas Maduro with nationwide protests on Saturday, supporters of the leftist head of state were holding a simultaneous pro-government rally in Caracas.
The anti-government demonstrators had taken to the streets to express thanks to the European Parliament for adopting a resolution on Thursday recognising Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-led National Assembly, as interim president.
They also are showing their support for an ultimatum issued by major European nations, including Germany, Spain, France and the UK, which say they also will formally recognise Guaido if Maduro does not announce snap elections by Sunday.
The US and several Latin American countries were the first to recognise Guaido after he proclaimed himself to be Venezuela's legitimate president on January 23.