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Venezuelan opposition leader claims top government officials fled to Turkey

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Juan Guaido, opposition leader and self-declared president of Venezuela, on Saturday tweeted that some top government officials had fled to Turkey.

Turkey supports the regime of President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and has pledged to develop trade ties amid chaos due to a severe economic crisis.

In January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed solidarity with Maduro after Washington and several Western capitals along with countries in the region recognized Juan Guaido, chairman of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, as interim president.

“Maduro brother, stand tall, Turkey stands with you,” Erdoğan told Maduro by phone, according to a tweet by Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, who also posted with the hashtag #WeAreMADURO to demonstrate solidarity.

After US President, Donald Trump announced his support for Guaido, Maduro slammed his decision and said his country was breaking off diplomatic relations with the United States, giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also reacted to what he referred to US interference in the domestic politics of Venezuela.

“Unfortunately, the US and some Latin American countries have repeatedly intervened in the internal affairs of Venezuela recently,” Çavuşoğlu told the pro-government A Haber news channel.

Çavuşoğlu further said it was “very strange” that Venezuela’s National Assembly chairman declared himself interim president despite the fact that the country already had an elected president.

“This situation may lead to chaos,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkey was trying to support the nation’s economy, which is operating under difficult conditions due to its inability to benefit from its vast natural resources.

Brazil and the Organization of American States had recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s leader prior to his formal announcement. Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Paraguay have followed suit, while Bolivia and Mexico continue to support Maduro.

Maduro has repeatedly lashed out at the US, saying Washington is waging an “economic war” against him and his government amid a sweeping sanctions campaign.

Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

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