Australia supports Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido takes part in a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas Venezuela

The Trump administration on Monday imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, the toughest US financial challenge yet to the country's embattled socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters at the White House that Trump's action would block US$7 billion in Venezuelan assets and reduce the country's exports by US$11 billion over the next year, though Maduro is sure to attempt to sell PDVSA's crude elsewhere.

Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido called Sunday for two new protests, in an effort to push the military to turn against leader Nicolas Maduro and back a European ultimatum demanding free elections within the week.

"Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela", Netanyahu said.

Guaido has asked for help in getting control of the Venezuelan government's offshore assets and today scrambled to take control of the country's main foreign asset, USA refiner Citgo Petroleum. "Venezuela wants peace. and to guarantee peace, we have to be prepared", said Maduro. "No one can give us an ultimatum", Maduro told CNN's Turkish network.

"The Maduro regime relinquished any remaining legitimacy when it seized power through fraudulent and undemocratic elections on May 20, 2018".

Maduro has stood firm in the face of demonstrations against his rule this week, winning the endorsement of key military leaders and vowing to defeat what he calls a USA -backed coup against his government.

Guaido has won wide worldwide support, including from the United States.

Guaido took advantage of a major street demonstration on January 23 to swear himself in as the country's rightful leader, accusing Maduro of usurping power following a disputed 2018 re-election that countries around the world described as a fraud.

President of the National Assembly, Guaido has urged Venezuelans to participate in a big protest on February 2, to coincide with the deadline set by the European Union for Nicolas Maduro to call new elections. Immediately after Guaido's announcement, Trump recognized him as Venezuela's rightful leader and declared Maduro's government illegitimate.

The move came after Maduro severed relations with the USA due to President Donald Trump's January.

On Thursday, a security alert said non-emergency U.S. employees had 72 hours to leave Venezuela.

Promptinghorror and dismay, Pompeoannouncedon Friday that notorious neoconservative Elliot Abrams is joining the Trump administration as USA special envoy for Venezuela.

The show of force was accompanied by a government publicity campaign online based on the slogan "Always Loyal, Never A Traitor", and followed a high-profile defection by the country's top military diplomat in the USA last Saturday.

Oil fell about 3 percent on Monday, its biggest one-day percentage drop in a month, after an increase in USA crude drilling pointed to further supply growth amid continuing concerns about a global economic slowdown. With Venezuelan allies China and Russian Federation holding veto power, there was little chance the United Nations body would agree to take action.

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