Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country's Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country's capital of Caracas on January 23.
"There are people responsible for this and the regime should know it", Guaido said after attending Sunday Mass. He directed his comments at soldiers deployed to a bridge connecting Venezuela with Colombia.
The move comes after the United States imposed new financial sanctions aimed at preventing oil revenues reaching the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro has rejected humanitarian aid as a USA ploy to intervene in Venezuela, calling the deployment of aid a "political show" and blaming U.S. sanctions for the country's widespread shortages of food and medicine.
Maduro has said the USA help is part of a plot to overthrow his government and said Venezuela doesn't need it.
Humanitarian aid sent by the USA recently arrived in the Colombian city of Cucuta at the border with Venezuela, but Maduro has refused to let in the shipments.
Maduro appeared on state television Sunday, showing off anti-aircraft systems and other weapons he says will make Venezuelan cities "impregnable".
According to the United States official who spoke anonymously to Reuters, the Trump administration is also considering imposing sanctions on Cuban military and intelligence officials who are thought to be assisting Maduro. Out with his threats.
"Here are armed forces and here are the people to defend the honor, dignity and decorum of a country that has over 200 years of fighting for its future".
Many members of the Venezuelan military remain loyal to Maduro, mostly in fear of being targeted by the embattled leader.
Guaido, the 35 year-old head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, stunned Venezuela in January by declaring himself interim president after the legislature declared Maduro a "usurper" following his May 2018 reelection in a vote disputed by the opposition and global community. Maduro has denounced Guaido as a USA puppet seeking to foment a coup.
A drop in energy prices, corruption, and failed socialist policies have destroyed the oil-rich Venezuelan economy, leaving severe shortages of food and medicine and out-of-control inflation.
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