Venezuela's Guaido challenging Maduro through humanitarian aid

Wilmer Guiado the taxi driving father of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiado

According to official data, about four million people already had left Venezuela, the ministry said, noting that inflation was about to reach 1.7 million per cent. It is unclear how the supplies will get into Venezuela without Maduro's blessing and cooperation of the Venezuelan military, which has remained loyal to his government and is stationed on the Venezuelan side of the border.

The coordinated recognition by a flood of European Union nations including Britain, Germany, France and Spain followed the expiration of an ultimatum for Maduro to call a new presidential election, aligning them with Washington and against Russian Federation and China.

Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, set up a transitional government and hold a new presidential poll.

Venezuelan military officers blocked a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid shipment, as opposition leader Juan Guaido stepped up his challenge to President Nicolas Maduro's authority.

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Worldwide pressure is growing on Maduro to step down after major European Union nations this week joined the United States, Canada and a group of Latin American countries in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader following Maduro's re-election a year ago in a vote critics called a sham.

Venezuela said it will review its bilateral ties with those countries until there is a "rectification that discards their support for the coup plans".

"It's a means of intimidation, but I don't think it will accomplish anything", said Pereira, director of the nonprofit Entre Dos Tierras, which aids Venezuelans migrants.

Pope Francis on Tuesday acknowledged receiving a request from embattled Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro to help relaunch talks to end the country's political crisis but ruled out any involvement unless opposition leader Juan Guaido requests it.

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The Lima Group of Latin American countries and Canada called Monday for a peaceful change in government in Venezuela, without military intervention.

On Saturday, an air-force general defected to the opposition and reportedly fled to Colombia.

Francis acknowledged that he hadn't read Maduro's letter, which he said arrived at the Vatican via diplomatic pouch. "That's how diplomacy works", the pope said on the plane bringing him back from the United Arab Emirates.

They have joined the U.S. in pushing for a change of regime in Venezuela, which is now seeing an acute shortage of medicines and hyperinflation despite being an oil-rich country.

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"The more it looks like an overt attack on the authority of Maduro, that makes the aid more of a target", said Konyndyk, who has led USA government responses to global disasters.

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