| 05.02,19. 04:07 AM |
Venezuela: Maduro writes pope, seeking help
Venezuela's president has written a letter to Pope Francis asking for his help in resolving the country's political crisis, according to local sources.
Nicholas Maduro asked Francis to "facilitate and reinforce" dialogue with his "best effort, his willingness," he said in an Italian TV interview Monday.
Speaking to Sky TG24, Maduro described himself as "in the service of Christ's cause and in this spirit."
He is hoping for a "positive response," Maduro said in the interview.
Over 70 percent of Venezuela's population is Catholic.
Maduro sent the letter to Francis as large numbers of countries -- including nearly a dozen European countries today -- recognize Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela's National Assembly, as the country's "interim president."
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.
Tensions climbed on Jan. 23 when Guaido declared himself interim president, but Maduro has so far refused calls to step down.
He has accused the U.S. of orchestrating a coup against his government and said he is open to dialogue with the opposition.
The U.S. has led an international campaign to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Maduro, including sanctioning the country's state-owned oil company and a joint venture with its Nicaraguan counterpart.
Russia, China, and Iran have put their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.