US Vice President Mike Pence and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido attend a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota


Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro's future as the country's leader.

Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.

Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country's leader.

Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.

Here are all the latest updates as of Monday, February 25:
Pence on Venezuela: 'all options are on the table'

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated the US position on Venezuela Monday, insisting that a military intervention to force President Nicolas Maduro from power has not been ruled out.

"We hope for a peaceful transition to democracy. But President Trump has made it clear: all options are on the table," Pence said after meeting with Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido at a Lima Group gathering in Colombia.
US asks UNSC to meet on Venezuela: diplomats

The United States has asked the United Nations Security Council to meet to discuss the situation in Venezuela on Tuesday, said diplomats after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's troops repelled foreign aid convoys at the weekend.

The United States has been pushing the 15-member council to formally call for free, fair and credible presidential elections in Venezuela with international observers, a move that prompted Russia to propose a rival draft resolution. It was unclear if or when either draft text could be put to a vote.

Moscow and Washington have been at loggerheads over a US-led campaign for international recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country's elected National Assembly Juan Guaido over Maduro. Guaido last month declared himself interim head of state.
US sending aid for Venezuela migrant crisis

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States is sending another $56m to neighbours of Venezuela to help them cope with migrants fleeing that nation's deepening crisis.

Pence said Monday that the United States has already provided more than $139m in aid to help Venezuela.

He spoke in Colombia's capital at a meeting of The Lima Group, a coalition of mostly Latin American nations formed to address Venezuela's turmoil.

Pence also met with opposition congressional leader Juan Guaido, who has declared presidential powers, arguing that the re-election of socialist President Nicolas Maduro was invalid.

Pence said the US has sent five military transport planes with 400 tonnes of food and medicine to Colombia and Brazil.

Deadly clashes erupted over the weekend when Maduro refused to allow the aid cross, calling it part of a US-led coup.
Mike Pence: President Guaido, we are with you

US Vice President Mike Pence told Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela's interim president, that the United States stands with him.
"President Trump has asked me to convey a message to him, President Guaido: we are with you, and we will be until the freedom and democracy come back," he said.

"As of today, the United States will impose additional sanctions on the regime's officials."

Pence also asked Latin American nations to freeze Venezuela oil assets.

"We call on all Lima Group nations to immediately freeze the assets of PDVSA," he said.

"Secondly, transfer ownership of Venezuelan assets in your country from Maduro's henchmen to President Guaido's government," and he also called on the countries to restrict visas for officials close to Maduro and to vote to recognise the representative of Juan Guaido, Venezuela's self-declared interim president, at the Inter-American Development Bank.
Guaido: We are here to recover Venezuela's democracy

The opposition leader Juan Guaido is about to speak in a meeting of the Lima Group and has started requesting a "minute of silence for the massacre Venezuelans experienced on February 23," according to local media reports.

"This meeting is aimed at the recovery of democracy in Venezuela, and the respect for human rights. Today Maduro thinks that by blocking the humanitarian aid, he has gained a victory. They dance in Caracas, on top of indigenous tombs," he added.

"The dilemma is between a dictatorship and democracy. Between massacres or saving lives."

"Today the transition is being blocked by irregular armed groups," Guaido explained, "without those weapons we would have a pacific transition."

Colombia president wants to close circle around Maduro

Colombia's President Ivan Duque called on members of the Lima Group meeting in Bogota on Monday to create a "more powerful and effective" ring around Venezuela's socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Duque, who met with Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido and US Vice President Mike Pence, said added pressure would facilitate the "rapid construction of the transition demanded by the Venezuelan people."
US ramps up pressure on Venezuela with fresh sanctions

The US has imposed sanctions on four Venezuelans as it ramped up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, whose election Washington sees as illegitimate.
The action, which was announced in a post on the US Treasury's website, coincides with US Vice President Mike Pence attending a meeting of the regional Lima Group of nations in Bogota, where he was expected to announce steps against Maduro's government.
Pence: Aid delivery violence steeled US resolve to back Guaido

Violence during the attempted delivery of much-needed food and medicine to Venezuela over the weekend has steeled the United States' resolve to support opposition leader Juan Guaido, US Vice-President Mike Pence said on Monday.

The US will keep standing with Guaido until freedom is restored is the South American nation, Pence said at a meeting of the regional Lima Group bloc.
EU says military intervention in Venezuela must be avoided

The European Union on Monday urged countries to avoid any military intervention in Venezuela, the spokeswoman for diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.

"We must avoid a military intervention," Maja Kocijancic told reporters, as Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido was in Bogota to hold talks with allies in the regional Lima Group of countries on measures to compel President Nicolas Maduro to leave office.
Evo Morales calls for dialogue

Bolivian President Evo Morales called on the Lima Group to seek a solution for Venezuela on the basis of dialogue, as an option to avoid a war in Latin America.

"Brother Presidents of the Lima Group: Respecting our political differences and as democratically elected leaders, I ask you, with much respect, to seek a solution through dialogue as an option to save lives and prevent war from bringing destruction to our LA," Morales wrote on his Twitter account.
(source: aljazeera)