- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2019

France, Germany, Britain and six other European nations on Monday joined the U.S. and said they no longer recognized socialist President Nicolas Maduro as the country’s rightful ruler, demanding that quick new national elections be organized.

European powers said an eight-day ultimatum had expired for Mr. Maduro to step aside and allow opposition leader Juan Guaido to become “interim president” of the oil-rich but poverty-wracked South American nation.

The Trump administration, joined by countries around the Western Hemisphere, last month threw its support behind a popular uprising led by Mr. Guaido, although Mr. Maduro has defiantly said he will not step down. The U.S. last week announced harsh new sanctions on the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, virtually the sole source of revenue for the government in Caracas.

“From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, urging both fair elections and humanitarian aid, the Reuters news service reported.

Joining the four major EU powers in Monday’s declaration were Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.

Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey are among the major powers still backing the Maduro regime, which has overseen an economic implosion and humanitarian crisis that has sent millions of Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring countries.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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