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More than half of the countries which make up the European Union have joined the United States in recognising Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader.

Organized labour in Canada is voicing its opposition to the federal government's decision to embrace Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido over the regime of Nicolas Maduro - which has been accused of human rights abuses and of winning the last election through vote-rigging.

But with the majority of the military still standing with Maduro, is the country stumbling towards civil war?

"I refuse to call for elections now - there will be elections in 2024".

Newsnight is the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme - with analysis, debate, exclusives, and robust interviews. "It is time for free and fair elections", the spokesman told reporters, according to Reuters.

The United Nations will not join any group of nations promoting initiatives to resolve the crisis in Venezuela, the UN chief said Monday, indicating he will not attend a meeting in Uruguay this week of several countries.

Thousands of Venezuelans living in Argentina, opposed to President Nicolas Maduro, hold a demonstration in Buenos Aires in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido's self-appointment as acting president of Venezuela, on January 23, 2019.

The PM's spokesman said: "Venezuelan people deserve a better future".

"From today, we will spare no effort in helping all Venezuelans achieve freedom, prosperity and harmony", Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said, urging both fair elections and humanitarian aid.

During the protest, Guaido announced the installation of collection centres for medicine and food - items lacking in Venezuela - in neighbouring Colombia and Brazil. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Guaido is now Venezuela's "legitimate interim president".

"This is a pivotal moment for the people of Venezuela - we are observing a widespread rejection of the Maduro regime's illegitimate claim to power following fraudulent elections last May", he said.

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Earlier French Foreign Minister told French radio that Guaido had the right to call snap elections.

In addition to the European pressure, a bloc of Latin American nations and Canada were to meet on Monday seeking to maintain pressure on President Maduro.

"You will leave the presidency stained with blood", Maduro said Sunday evening in an interview with the Spanish television station Sexta.

Two of the protesters, masquerading as journalists, interrupted the Lima Group's closing news conference, shouting, "Hands off Venezuela" while holding a big black sign that read "Stop the plunder".

It also accused Ottawa of siding with U.S. President Donald Trump and American foreign policy.

Fourteen countries issued their own statements saying Guaido is now the country's legitimate leader, but others refused to follow suit on a decision that exposed how divided the European Union is on major global issues.

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez delivers a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

"The United States wants to return to the 20th century of military coups, subordinate puppet governments and the looting of resources", Maduro said.

Meanwhile, Italy's 5-Star Movement, which makes up half of the ruling coalition, dissented from the European stance, saying it would never recognize self-declared leaders. Already, the Bank of England has reportedly denied a request by Maduro to repatriate US$1.3 billion worth of Venezuelan gold being kept in its vaults.

On Monday, Guaido said the European Union needed "to act in unison so that the forces, who are still supporting Maduro feel all the weight of Europe's diplomatic and political pressure".

Guaido lost no time Monday in building on broadened global support, with his fledgling alternative administration announcing February 14 talks in Washington on responding to "the largest hemispheric humanitarian crisis in modern history".