MADRID - Venezuela’s self-proclaimed acting president, Juan Guaido, ruled out the possibility of civil war in his country, saying the overwhelming majority of his compatriots wanted Nicolas Maduro to step down.
In an interview to Spain’s El Pais newspaper published Thursday, Guaido repeated an appeal to Venezuela’s armed forces to take his side.
“The risk of a civil war in Venezuela does not exist, despite what certain people want to believe or want to let us believe. Why? Because 90 percent of the population wants a change,” he said.
But there was “a risk of violence” from Maduro’s government, which he said used specialized police forces and “paramilitaries” to quash opponents.
“They have killed dozens of youths in one week. Over 140 in 2017,” he said.
Guiado, the head of Venezuela’s congress, proclaimed himself interim president on Jan. 23, saying the constitution entitled him to serve as chief of state because Maduro’s re-election last May was invalid as his strongest opponents were barred from running.
“I am convinced that at a certain moment … the army will end up manifesting its discontent, and take this opportunity to stand on the side of the constitution. And not only because we propose an amnesty,” he said.
Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela’s president by the United States and several Latin American countries.
Six European Union nations — Spain, France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Portugal — have said they will also recognize him as president unless Maduro calls fresh presidential elections by Sunday.