Vice President Mike Pence arrives to speak at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center for a round-table discussion on the political crisis in Venezuela with community leaders in Doral, Fla., Feb. 1, 2019.
Vice President Mike Pence arrives to speak at Iglesia Doral Jesus Worship Center for a round-table discussion on the political crisis in Venezuela with community leaders in Doral, Fla., Feb. 1, 2019.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that the United States "calls on every nation to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela's president and take the side of freedom." 

Pence said the United States stood with Venezuela amid a power struggle between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Guaido.

He warned, "Nicolas Maduro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States." 

Pence was speaking at a meeting with Venezuelan exiles and community leaders in Miami, participating in a round-table discussion at a Spanish-speaking worship center. He said, "These leaders gathered here and this president in our administration are going to continue to stand with you until the suffering is over and freedom is restored."
 
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Guaido, president of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president last week after the assembly declared Maduro's re-election last May illegitimate, as most opposition candidates either boycotted the race or were barred from running. The United States has recognized Guaido as interim president.

"Let me make it clear to leaders around the world ... there can be no bystanders in the struggle for Venezuela's freedom," the U.S. vice president said during a solidarity rally later in the day.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said in a radio interview Friday that the U.S. goal in Venezuela was a peaceful transition of power, and he denied that a U.S. military intervention was imminent. 

And Guaido told an Argentine newspaper he also opposed outside military action in Venezuela. 

"Our democratic struggle and adherence to the Constitution is very difficult," he said, "but ... we want to avoid a violent outcome. I keep repeating our road map: end of usurpation, transitional government and free elections."

Help turned down

The Associated Press said Guaido had turned down offers of help from the presidents of Mexico and Uruguay to negotiate with Maduro to step down, but that he had urged both countries to take his side in the struggle for control of the country. The opposition leader said remaining neutral would align them with Maduro. 

On Saturday, more anti-Maduro demonstrations are planned for the streets of Venezuela's cities. Maduro's administration is calling for his supporters to mount a counterdemonstration.

Guaido said in a New York Times opinion piece earlier this week that more than 50 countries had either recognized him as interim president or recognized the National Assembly as the legitimate authority in Venezuela. He said he had begun appointing ambassadors and "locating and recovering national assets tied up abroad."  

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Reuters news service quotes two EU diplomats as saying European Union governments have announced they will move to recognize Guaido next week as Venezuela’s interim president.