Yesterday [Wednesday 30 January] Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke to Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela.
A Foreign Office spokesman said:
During the call, the Foreign Secretary said to Juan Guaido that there are many people in the UK who admire his courage and support what he is doing under the Venezuelan constitution. Mr Guaido told the Foreign Secretary he appreciated the support from the UK and said it was an important moment for Venezuela and the people of his country who have suffered for many years under the Maduro regime. Mr Guaido said it was time to put pressure on the Maduro regime, to shift support away from those responsible for oppression and to back efforts to ensure a democratic transition of government took place as soon as possible.
The Foreign Secretary and Mr Guaido also discussed the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Mr Guaido said that there is immense suffering, food shortages and that several people had recently died due to the lack of electricity in hospitals. Mr Guaido said that 3.3 million people, which is 15% of the population, have left the country as migrants in the last three years to escape the crisis, with many making their way to neighbouring countries like Peru and Ecuador on foot.
Speaking about his own personal safety, Mr Guaido told the Foreign Secretary about the many death threats he has received, as well as threats to his family and that he is facing judicial persecution in a country which has already jailed over 300 political prisoners.
At the end of the call, the Foreign Secretary told Mr Guaido he was a courageous and brave man working for a brighter future for the people of Venezuela and that he would be discussing the crisis with other EU Foreign Ministers during a meeting on Thursday (31 January) in Bucharest. Mr Guaido said the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers was a very important meeting for Venezuela’s future and if Maduro did not call for new Presidential elections after the eight day deadline already announced, then it would be a time to increase the pressure on the Maduro dictatorship. Mr Guaido said the EU should consider increasing pressure on Maduro through further sanctions, and should collectively recognise him – Mr Guaido – as the constitutional interim President of Venezuela.