A group of 11 Latin American countries and 19 European Union member nations has recognised US-backed National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela, after incumbent Nicolas Maduro failed to comply with an ultimatum calling for a snap presidential election. In a 17-point declaration on Monday, 11 countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru -- of the 14 members of the Lima Group called for a change of power without the use of force and the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid, the BBC reported.
The group issued the declaration following a meeting in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. The 11 countries also urged the world community "to take measures to prevent Maduro's regime from conducting financial and trade transactions abroad, from having access to Venezuela's international assets and from doing business in oil, gold and other assets". However, three members of the Lima Group - Guyana, Mexico and St Lucia - did not back the declaration. The Lima Group was set up in 2017 with the aim of helping to find a peaceful solution to the Venezuela crisis.
Also on Monday, EU members Spain, Portugal, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Holland, France, Hungary, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Sweden and Croatia, signed a joint declaration in support and recognition of Guaido, with the aim of "calling free, fair and democratic presidential elections" in Venezuela. Nine EU nations, including Italy, declined to sign the joint statement. Russia, which is one of Venezuela's principal creditors, also rejected the EU ultimatum that called on Maduro to call for a snap presidential election, reports Efe news.
The National Assembly is considered by the EU to be the only the legitimate parliamentary body in Venezuela. In 2017, Venezuela's Supreme Court, whose members are mostly pro-Maduro, withdrew recognition of the National Assembly and the government proceeded with elections to a parallel body known as the National Constituent Assembly, which was boycotted by the opposition.
Maduro accuses the EU nations of bowing to the policies of US President Donald Trump. Guaido secured the backing of Washington before declaring himself Acting President on January 23. He took to social media on Monday to individually thank all the EU governments that had recognised him.
(With inputs from agencies.)