U.S. special envoy for Venezuela has long, controversial history in Latin America

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Names Former Republican Official to Run Venezuela Policy

Pompeo taps hawkish GOP veteran Abrams to lead US efforts in Venezuela

Pompeo announced the appointment of Abrams two days after Washington declared head of state Nicolas Maduro to be illegitimate and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of crisis-plagued Venezuela.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines during a visit to India‚ Sisulu said South Africa only recognises Nicholas Maduro as president of the troubled South American country.

As for possible military action to oust Maduro, Arreaza said, "we will not allow any government or any country to violate our sovereignty, and to give a pretext for Donald Trump to start a war".

Guaido took a symbolic oath of office Wednesday proclaiming himself the nation's constitutional leader on grounds that Maduro's re-election a year ago was fraudulent - an allegation supported by the United States, the European Union and many other nations.

Spain had wanted the European Union to take a tough line on Maduro by calling for immediate elections, failing which the bloc as a whole would recognise Guaido, the 35-year-old head of Venezuela's National Assembly. Venezuela's defence attache to Washington, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, told Reuters that he has broken with the Maduro government and recognised Guaido as interim president.

Many US journalists and observers - even those supportive of regime change in Venezuela such as MSNBC's Chris Hayes - were appalled by the news as well, recalling the former diplomat's dark history in Latin America.

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Pompeo also called on the worldwide community to disconnect their financial systems from Maduro's regime.

The United States pressed all nations on Saturday (Jan 26) to "stand with the forces of freedom" in Venezuela, encouraged by a tougher European line as Russian Federation stood in the minority in backing embattled leader Nicolas Maduro.

But Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Venezuela was not a threat to global peace and security and, along with China, called for non-interference in the embattled Latin American country's affairs.

"The only thing left is to hope that the U.S. Administration will not pursuit foreign ventures, for instance, in Syria or Venezuela in attempt to shift public opinion from the aftermath of the shutdown", the embassy said via its official Facebook page.

Pompeo was gone by the time Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took the floor to accuse the USA of trying to "trigger a civil war" in Venezuela and listed nearly two centuries of US interventions in the region going back to the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.

"From where do you get the power to issue deadlines or ultimatums to a sovereign people?"

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"Now it is time for every other nation to pick a side".

Abrams called Venezuela "a satellite of Cuba and Russia" - which the three countries vehemently denied - and said Saturday's meeting "is not about foreign intervention in Venezuela" but "about the right of Venezuelans to direct their own internal affairs and choose the future of their own country democratically".

"I want to be 100 percent clear - President Trump and I fully expect that our diplomats will continue to receive protections provided under the Vienna Convention", he said.

The Maduro government has previously rejected such aid, denying there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and blaming economic problems on sanctions.

"Let's not escalate tensions around Venezuela", he said at the end of the almost six hour council meeting.

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