Madrid:The Prime Minister of Spain announced his government would officially recognize the legitimacy of the speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly who recently proclaimed himself president of the South American nation unless the current government calls a new election within the next eight days.
Sources in the Spanish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Pedro Sanchez would later be joined by other European leaders throughout the day in threatening to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as President of Venezuela instead of Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in on Jan 11 following his controversial reelection, Efe news reported.
"Spain gives Nicolas Maduro eight days to call an election and if it doesn't occur, we will recognize Juan Guaido as President," Sanchez said during a press conference in Madrid.
Sanchez thus became the first of the European Union's 28 heads of government to position himself before the bloc's adoption of a common stance on the ongoing legitimacy crisis in Venezuela.
The governments of France, Germany, the UK and Portugal on Saturday followed Spain in its eight-day demand to Maduro.
To which Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded: "Europe is giving us eight days to what? Where do they get the idea they have the authority to give us ultimatums?"
Venezuela refused Saturday before the UN Security Council to hold new elections, as the European Union has requested, in order to resolve the crisis the country is going through, a matter that has divided the United Nations with a fierce standoff between the bloc led by the United States and the "illegitimate mafia state" of Nicolas Maduro, supported by Russia and China.
Meanwhile the speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly and self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, said Saturday that he is ready to meet with officials of the Nicolas Maduro government in order to end what he considers the usurping of the presidency by the Chavista leader, though without confirming that any such meeting had occurred.
On Friday, however, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez showed "proof" of a supposed meeting between Guaido and the head of the Chavista National Constituent Assembly (ANC), Diosdado Cabello.
Rodriguez presented a video taken by security cameras showing a hooded man in a hotel with Chavista leaders Diosdado Cabello and Freddy Bernal.
According to Rodriguez, the hooded man was Guaido heading for a meeting with the Chavistas, whom he supposedly told that he was being pressured by the United States and by the leader of his party - Voluntad Popular - the imprisoned Leopoldo Lopez.
Guaido did not confirm that account.
In the Americas, after the US, other governments like Brazil, Argentina and Chile also recognized Guaido, while Mexico, Cuba and Bolivia maintained their support of Maduro, as did Russia, China and Turkey.
The Venezuelan government on the same day, through its embassy in Washington, announced that the United States "has effectively withdrawn its personnel from the diplomatic mission" in Caracas, and that the two countries have agreed to negotiate the establishment of an office of interests in each capital.
A period of 30 days has been set to reach that agreement.
"With that objective in mind, the staff remaining in each diplomatic mission is authorized to stay," the Venezuelan ministry said.
Col Jose Luis Silva Silva, until now the military attache at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, announced this Saturday his support for the National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido, as interim president of his country.
"I, in my position as the defense attache of Venezuela in the United States, do no longer recognize Mr. Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela," Silva told the daily El Nuevo Herald of Miami in a telephone interview from Washington.
"Enough is enough. Let us recognize who by law is the real president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido," he added.