EU Parliament Recognizes Guaido as Venezuela’s President, Tells Union to Follow Suit
The EU is still holding back on an all-out recognition of Venezuela’s opposition leader.
The European Parliament has recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela in defiance of the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and has urged the European Union as a whole to follow suit.
Juan Guaidó, President of Venezuela’s Parliament (National Assembly) controlled by the opposition, declared himself interim President of the country on January 23, 2019, after years of civil unrest and protests against the regime of Nicolas Maduro, leader of Venezuela since Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013.
Guaido was swiftly recognized as the legitimate President of Venezuela by the United States as well as 13 out of the 14 members of the Lima Group of Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia, as well as by Canada, Israel and Australia.
The EU’s official position so far has been more reserved, with foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declaring support for Venezuela’s National Assembly on January 26 on behalf of the Union.
She, however, stopped short of recognizing Guaido, calling only for free and fair elections, and making it clear that the EU would tackle the issue of Venezuela’s legitimate leadership if a vote was not called within days.
Some of the EU’s largest member states, Germany, France, and Spain, used harsher wording than Mogherini the same day, giving Venezuela’s rulers 8 days to hold new elections before they recognize Guaido as the country’s legitimate acting President.
More than 3 million people have fled Venezuela since the social, economic, and political crisis became exacerbated in what once was the wealthiest South American country a couple of years ago. Venezuela’s inflation rate has surpassed 1,650,000%.
The European Parliament voted on Thursday to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim President with 439 votes in favor, 104 against, and 88 abstaining.
“[The MEPs] reiterate their full support to the National Assembly, Venezuela’s only legitimate democratic body whose powers need to be restored and respected, including the rights and safety of its members,” the European Parliament press service said.
The EU Parliament also urged Mogherini and all EU member states also to recognize “as the only legitimate interim president of the country until new free, transparent and credible presidential elections can be called in order to restore democracy”.
The MEPs further condemn the violence and repressions committed by the Venezuelan regime as well as the arrests of foreign journalists including several EU nationals.
While the EP decision does not change the official stance of the EU on the Venezuelan leadership crisis, it adds to the mounting pressure on the Union institutions and the member state governments to recognize Guaido as a measure against the human rights abuses of the Maduro regime.
Nicolas Maduro is still backed internationally by Russia, China, Turkey, Mexico, Cuba, and Bolivia.
(Banner image: Juan Guaido on Twitter)