The EU has made a point of not calling former Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido by his adopted title, fueling speculation that the US might relax sanctions without requiring President Nicolas Maduro’s exit.
Europe will continue its “engagement” with all Venezuelan “political and social actors,” High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on Tuesday. Rather than refer to Guaido by his self-appointed title of interim president, Borrell merely lumped him in with other representatives of the outgoing National Assembly elected in 2015.
Guaido’s official status may have lapsed – his demand that loyal followers stay away from the polls didn’t exactly help his reelection prospects – but that hasn’t stopped Colombia and other Latin American nations vowing to continue recognizing the no-longer-legitimate government. December’s elections also saw the formation of a new legislative branch, rendering more of the National Assembly’s duties obsolete – or at least setting up a potential collision course between the 277 new National Assembly appointments and their predecessors, who officially ceased operations on Tuesday.
Guaido last month urged his dwindling number of supporters to “keep pushing” to overthrow Maduro, by force if necessary, because the president wouldn’t leave by choice. However, the erstwhile opposition leader’s last two attempts to foment a coup and bring the military to his side had failed embarrassingly – to say nothing of the botched kidnap attempt against Maduro led by American mercenaries.
While the US fervently denied responsibility for that attack, the paper trail led back to Washington, specifically a mercenary firm called Silvercorp. The US shut down all communications channels with Caracas following the raid, in what many took as an admission of guilt, and the Trump administration has since put a $15 million bounty on Maduro’s head, baselessly accusing the president of narco-terrorism.
The EU isn’t the only entity to give Guaido the cold shoulder. US President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly declined to take the opposition figure’s calls, hinting he will remove some of the sanctions choking Caracas if Maduro brings about “free and fair elections” – a loaded phrase that has come to define its opposite in the regime-change community.
Even fellow opposition figures have apparently had enough of the US-backed figurehead, with former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles urging other countries – but specifically the US – to ditch the idea of replacing Maduro with Guaido. Capriles hit back at Guaido’s claims of an unfair election by noting that 107 political organizations took part in the parliamentary vote, and just 20 of those walked off the ballot at Guaido’s urging.
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