Guaido asks state workers for support in push to oust Maduro

Venezuela descended into a major political crisis when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January and asserted that President Nicolas Maduro was no longer legitimate

"We can not give in to provocations. there they are with their child's games", Maduro said at an event paying tribute to his predecessor Hugo Chavez, according to broadcaster NTN24 and other media.

The United States is considering imposing sanctions on third country actors in response to the Venezuelan crisis, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said during a press conference.

Venezuela is wracked by a humanitarian crisis that has seen poverty soar, with an estimated 2.7 million people leaving the country since 2015.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, an influential voice in advocating U.S measures against Maduro, warned that the Venezuelan government could still act against Guaido in ways that it has refined against other opposition voices.

Let the insane minority continue with their bitterness, we'll defeat them. After his return to Venezuela, Guaido called a new round of anti-government protests for Saturday.

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Supporters, media, and diplomats from allied countries mobbed Guaido on his arrival at the worldwide airport in Caracas before he headed into the city for a tumultuous homecoming by thousands of supporters.

Venezuela is experiencing widespread shortages of food and medicine and has the highest inflation rate in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Guaido's homecoming Monday followed warnings by the United States and other countries to Maduro not to move against his adversary, and he possibly realized arresting his foe could generate more street protests. It is also calm in central Caracas, in the Libertador municipality, a stronghold of President Nicolas Maduro's supporters.

The socialist government had kept unusually silent since Guaido landed, with no top officials commenting until Maduro spoke at the ceremony, held at the military barracks where Chavez launched a failed 1992 coup.

Abrams also said that imposing US secondary sanctions against non-U.S. citizens or entities tied to the Maduro government was "clearly a possibility", although he said a decision had not been made on taking such a step.

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"That's ultimately a decision for Venezuelans to make", Mr Abrams said. Just a day after arriving back in Caracas to a hero's welcome, the self-proclaimed interim president vowed to step up pressure, calling again for Maduro to step down.

In talks with public sector unions on Tuesday, he has vowed to stage strikes to help bring down the government.

"We will continue to hold all of the Maduro regime accountable until democracy and libertad (liberty) are fully restored", US Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech.

"The moment has come and our call, our request, and our complete support for public employees, is to bring about this strike", Guaido said after meeting with state workers.

Last week he toured Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador.

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The United States and some 50 other countries have recognized Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and have urged Maduro, who is backed by Russian Federation, to resign so the country can prepare for elections.

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