The political standoff in Venezuela continues as the world watches with apprehension and countries begin to take sides, backing one of the two leaders claiming to be president of the crisis-stricken Latin American nation that holds the world’s largest crude oil reserves.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president on Wednesday, and the United States supported him against Nicolas Maduro, whom the U.S. Administration declared an “usurper” with no legitimacy to the presidency.
Maduro, in turn, severed diplomatic ties with the U.S. on Wednesday and gave U.S. diplomats in Venezuela 72 hours to leave the country.
According to a Reuters witness, some U.S. diplomats left the U.S. embassy in Caracas on Friday and headed to the airport in a convoy escorted by police.
Right-leaning Latin American nations, including Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, also recognized Guaido, while leftist Cuba and Bolivia support Maduro.
Russia, China, and Turkey stand by Maduro, who explicitly thanked those three countries and all other governments in the world who support the “legitimately elected government which I preside.”
The European Union (EU) said as early as on Wednesday that the voices of Venezuelan people calling for democracy “cannot be ignored.”
“The EU strongly calls for the start of an immediate political process leading to free and credible elections, in conformity with the Constitutional order,” the EU said, but stopped short of backing Guaidó.
Germany, as well as Spain, call on Maduro to “immediately” agree to hold new elections, otherwise both EU members would consider backing Guaidó.
“The German government will speak in forthcoming EU consultations in favor of recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president, unless such free and fair elections are held immediately,” DW quoted German government spokesman Steffen Seibert as saying on Friday.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Friday that Spain is pushing for the EU to support Guaidó if Maduro doesn’t call elections by a “short and minimal” deadline yet to be set. The EU was discussing the deadline on Friday.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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