The beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro refused to call new elections in response to demands from several European countries.
He also warned that the US presidency would be “stained with blood” if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to intervene.
European Union countries including Austria, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain told Maduro to call fresh elections by Feb. 3, 2019, or else they would formally recognize Maduro’s opponent, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuela’s interim president.
Guaidó, the National Assembly president, declared himself the country’s interim president in January 2019. Critics of Maduro have accused him of vote-rigging in last May’s presidential election and say his presidency, which started Jan. 10, 2019, is unconstitutional and fraudulent.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
Tens of thousands of people have been protesting Maduro over the past month. Maduro has presided over one of the worst economic crises, leading to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Venezuela.
Maduro rejected the European countries’ call on Feb. 3, 2019, the day of the deadline, telling the Spanish TV channel La Sexta that “we don’t accept ultimatums from anyone.”
“It’s as if I told the European Union that I give it a few days to recognize the Republic of Catalonia,” he added, referring to the Spanish region of Catalonia’s failed attempt to break away from Spain in October 2017.
Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont, declared autonomy from Spain after a contested referendum, and Madrid’s Constitutional Court canceled the independence bid the next month. Spanish authorities have since arrested and detained some of Puigdemont’s allies.
Catalonia’s regional president, Carles Puigdemont.
Britain, Denmark, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden formally recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president on Monday in response to Maduro’s refusal to organize new elections, Sky News reported.
‘Stop, stop, Donald Trump!’
Maduro on Feb. 3, 2019, also warned that Trump’s presidency would be “stained with blood” if Trump decided to intervene in Venezuela.
Trump, who backs Guaidó as interim president, on Feb. 3, 2019, said that sending troops to Venezuela was “an option.”
In response, Maduro threatened the possibility of his country descending into widespread violence.
When La Sexta asked whether the political turmoil could end in civil war, Maduro said, “Nobody can answer now with certainty.”
“Everything depends on the level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire,” he said, referring to the US.
He also told La Sexta that “thousands of innocent Venezuelans may end up paying with their lives … if the US empire attacks the country.”Venezuela’s Maduro ‘leaves voicemail’ for rival Guaidó
“Stop, stop, Donald Trump!” Maduro said. “You are making mistakes that are going to stain your hands with blood, and you are going to leave the presidency stained with blood. Stop!”
He added: “Or is it that you are going to repeat a Vietnam in Latin America?”
Maduro also warned Guaidó to “stop this coup-mongering strategy and stop simulating a presidency in which nobody elected him.”
Guaidó argued in The New York Times last week that his interim presidency was not a “self-proclamation” because the Venezuelan Constitution says that “if at the outset of a new term there is no elected head of state” he becomes interim president.
He said that since Maduro’s reelection was not legitimate, that condition has been fulfilled.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.