In the midst of a long crisis regarding Venezuelan leadership, nine more European nations joined with the US in recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela. These countries confirmed their support of Guaido on Monday, February 4th, heightening a global diplomatic stalemate over sitting president Nicolas Maduro’s socialist rule.
France, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and the United Kingdom all declared their support of Guaido after their eight-day ultimatum for Maduro to call a new election expired. Maduro stands accused of running the highly-populated and oil-laden Venezuela like a dictatorship and simultaneously wreaking havoc on the Venezuelan economy. Maduro considers the nine European nations which oppose him as fanatic followers of Donald Trump.
Juan Guaido leads the National Assembly and brought global diplomacy to a standstill last month, following his declaration that he is Venezuela’s ‘caretaker leader.’ President Trump was quick to support him, but European Union nations worried what the global precedent of self-named leaders might mean for the future.
Russia and China, having poured billions of dollars into Venezuela via loans and investments, continue to support Maduro. This is yet another aspect of the geopolitical dispute between Russia, China, and the United States.
“We think that imposing some kind of decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power is both direct and indirect interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called Maduro’s presidency an “illegitimate, kleptocratic… regime” which “must end.” Maduro, now 56, took power after the death of Hugo Chavez from cancer in 2013. He has since ruled over an economic collapse and mass exodus of over 3 million Venezuelans.
CNN, Reuters, and several nationally-sanctioned analysts consider Maduro’s re-election in 2018 a sham. Two of Maduro’s rivals who had favorable election chances were barred from standing, while food handouts and other subsidies to hungry Venezuelans were linked with Maduro campaigns.
The South America, Canada, and the rest of Europe are still split over who should be supported in the Venezuelan power struggle: Maduro or Guaido?