Who’s in charge of Venezuela? EU stops recognizing Juan Guaidó.

Who’s in charge of Venezuela? EU stops recognizing Juan Guaidó.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration continues to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader. But the EU has dropped its recognition of Mr. Guaidó after he lost his position as head of Venezuela’s parliament following December legislative elections.

Manaure Quintero/Reuters

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Dec. 5, 2020. The EU is continuing to call for the opposition in Venezuela to unite against the disputed rule of President Nicolas Maduro.

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January 25, 2021

Brussels; and Washington

Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó is a “privileged interlocutor” but no longer considered interim president, European Union states said in a statement on Monday, sticking by their decision to downgrade his status.

The EU’s 27 states had said on Jan. 6 they could no longer legally recognize Mr. Guaidó after he lost his position as head of parliament following legislative elections in Venezuela in December, despite the EU not recognizing that vote.

Following the disputed re-election of President Nicolás Maduro in 2018, Mr. Guaidó, as head of parliament, became interim president. Mr. Guaidó is still seen by the United States and Britain as Venezuela’s rightful leader.

The status of interim president gives Mr. Guaidó access to funds confiscated from Mr. Maduro by Western governments, as well as affording him access to top officials and supporting his pro-democracy movement domestically and internationally.

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, said the Biden administration will continue to recognize Mr. Guaidó as the South American country’s president.


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Mr. Blinken told members of the U.S. Senate that Mr. Biden would seek to “more effectively target” sanctions on the country, which aim to oust Mr. Maduro, who retains control of the country. Mr. Blinken said the new administration would also look at more humanitarian assistance to the country.

“We need an effective policy that can restore Venezuela to democracy, starting with free and fair elections,” Mr. Blinken said.

But Mr. Guaidó’s push to oust Mr. Maduro – who has overseen a collapse in the once-prosperous OPEC nation’s economy and stands accused of corruption and human rights violations – has stalled.

Mr. Maduro calls Mr. Guaidó a U.S. puppet seeking to oust him in a coup. His allies have expressed a desire to engage in negotiations with the Biden administration after years of tensions and escalating U.S. sanctions. 

The 27 EU members said in a joint statement that Mr. Guaidó was part of the democratic opposition – despite a resolution by the European Parliament last week for EU governments to maintain Mr. Guaidó’s position as head of state.

“The EU repeats its calls for … the freedom and safety of all political opponents, in particular representatives of the opposition parties elected to the National Assembly of 2015, and especially Juan Guaidó,” the statement said following a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“The EU considers them to be important actors and privileged interlocutors,” it said, calling for the opposition to unite against the disputed rule of Mr. Maduro.

The assembly elected in 2015 was held by the opposition, whereas the new assembly is in the hands of Mr. Maduro’s allies, after the opposition called on Venezuelans to boycott the vote.

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Mr. Guaidó last week thanked the European Parliament for recognizing him as president of the National Assembly, a committee of lawmakers who assert they are the country’s legitimate legislature, arguing the 2020 parliamentary elections were fraudulent.

This story was reported by Reuters.

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