Venezuela crisis; supporters and opponents of attempted coup

January 24, The Iran Project – In the face of illegal moves to stage a coup in Venezuela and foreign meddling in the country’s affairs, world leaders showed different reactions. Several states condemned the moves as illegitimate, and some others express their support under the banner of democracy.

Following two nights of unrest gripped the country which led to the deaths of 14 people, the president of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, has declared himself interim president of the country on Wednesday (Jan. 23).

Minutes later, US President Donald Trump recognized Guaido as the “legitimate” interim president of the Latin American country, calling on other governments in the Western Hemisphere to also recognize Guaido. Trump accused by Caracas of plotting to topple President Nicolas Maduro.

Back in 2017, Trump said he would not “rule out” a military option for Venezuela to solve the ongoing crisis in the country.

Washington also intensified unilateral sanctions on the socialist country, announcing bans on Maduro’s wife and several of his top allies to further increase pressure on the government in early September.

Maduro breaks relations with US

Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, socialist leader Maduro said he would give US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse, CNBC reported.

In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the US, which he said was seeking to govern Venezuela from Washington.

On the other side, the US State Department said in a statement that it would not remove American diplomats because it did not recognize Maduro’s as the government of Venezuela: “The United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata.”

Opponents of foreign intervention

Iran, China, Russia, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, and Mexico have so far expressed support for Venezuela.

Pointing to recent political incidents in Venezuela, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in a statement that, “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the Venezuelan government and nation in the face of foreign interventions in Venezuela’s internal affairs and any illegitimate and illegal move such as trying to [stage] coup or anti-people moves.”

“We hope that as soon as possible any political difference and problem in Venezuela is solved by the people and government of the country using legal and peaceful methods,” he added.

China called on the United States to stay out of Venezuela’s current political crisis and says it opposes all outside intervention in the South American country.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that all parties to the conflict should “remain rational and level-headed and seek a political resolution on the Venezuelan issue through peaceful dialogue within the framework of the Venezuelan Constitution.”

Hua said China “opposes external intervention in Venezuela. We hope that the international community will jointly create favorable conditions for this.”

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Russia warned the United States against military interference in Venezuela’s affairs, it would be a disaster, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday, noting that Moscow stands for the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.

The Deputy Foreign Minister stressed that Moscow would support Caracas on the matter, also regretting that the Organisation of American States “was to a large extent involved in this” and “added fuel to the fire”.

The Foreign Ministry of the Syrian Arab Republic issued a statement on Thursday that condemned the US’ interference in Venezuela.

Syria accused the US of violating international norms and laws in a brazen attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Finally, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said they stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan government and their President Nicholas Maduro.

Turkey‘s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also said the United States has repeatedly interfered with the domestic politics of Venezuela.

Cavusoglu added that it was “very strange” that Venezuela’s National Assembly leader declared himself as interim president despite the country has an elected president.

Cuba expressed “firm support” for Venezuela’s Maduro after “coup attempt.”

Mexico still backs Maduro as Venezuela president, said government spokesman.

Supporters of attempted coup

Along with the US, Canada and slew of right-leaning Latin American countries including Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay quickly announced support for Guaido.

In another development, the European Union called for the launch of a political process in Venezuela that would lead to fresh elections.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherni said in a statement that the voice of Venezuelans calling for democracy “cannot be ignored.”

Also, French President Macron has said “Europe supports the restoration of democracy” in Venezuela.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said “the people’s right to peacefully demonstrate and freely choose its leaders must be respected.” She tweeted that “all violence and the excessive use of force are unacceptable. Democracy must be restored.”

Her Danish counterpart Anders Samuelsen said Denmark “will always support legitimate elected democratic institutions — not least the parliamentary assembly including @jguaido Juan Guaido.”