Venezuela Opposition Leader to Police: Leave My Family Alone

A general from the Venezuelan air force has announced he no longer recognises Nicolas Maduro as the country's president, in what appears to be the highest ranking military defection to hit the regime.

Maduro's adversaries say he has run roughshod over democratic institutions, including the opposition-run congress, and destroyed the once-buoyant economy through a corruption-riddled exchange control system and arbitrary nationalizations.

Military is a key pillar of support for the deeply unpopular Maduro.

On Tuesday, the government-stacked Supreme Court barred Guaido from leaving the country and froze his bank accounts while chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab, a Maduro ally, conducts an investigation into his anti-government activities.

The European Union on Thursday recognised Guaido as interim president in place of Maduro, with Hunt calling for sanctions against the latter.

It comes on the heels of the Trump administration officially recognizing Guaidó as the official president of Venezuela.

In the east of the capital, self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido led an opposition rally demanding that Maduro resign and new presidential elections. For too long the people of Venezuela have suffered under the heavy hand of oppression but now there is hope.

China and Venezuela have been "pragmatically cooperating for a long time", said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

The military's support is crucial for the embattled Maduro, who is deeply unpopular largely due to an unprecedented economic crisis that has prompted an exodus of millions, but claims he is victim of a coup directed by the United States.

The video was tweeted out among Venezuelan journalists and spread from there.

Just minutes later, Maduro dug in his own heels by insisting he was the only president of Venezuela and proposing to hold new elections to replace Venezuela's opposition-dominated National Assembly.

Guaido has won backing from the United States and a dozen Latin American countries to take over the leadership, but Russian Federation and China continue to support Maduro.

Hours before the rival ralies were set to start, a senior officer of the military's high command rejected the authority of Nicolas Maduro and endorsed his opposition rival.

Later Thursday, Guaido told The Associated Press that he will defy a government ban on humanitarian aid by sending large convoys of medicine into the country with the help of neighboring nations. The U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized Guaido soon after his declaration and praised his plans to hold elections.

The general's defection signals a shifting view towards the socialist government that is struggling to maintain support among the people amid economic hardship and repression of social liberties and instead have to rely on brute force to assert its legitimacy. But the new interim head-of-state is still scrambling to secure a domestic and global collation against Maduro.

This comes as Reuters is reporting the Maduro government plans to sell gold from central bank vaults to the United Arab Emirates for cash, as new sanctions from the us threaten to further cripple the country's economy.

Although Arellano, along and his wife Mayra Lopez, left a year ago, they say the problems back home have only gotten worse.

It said: "Whatever views people hold on Venezuela, there is no justification for backing the United States attempt at regime change under way, which, if successful, could go the way of the disastrous interventions in Iraq and Libya".