EU Faces Criticism Over Downgrading Venezuela’s Guaido

EU countries on Monday doubled down on their decision to downgrade the status of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, drawing immediate criticism from the European Parliament, POLITICO reported.

Written conclusions adopted by EU foreign ministers named Guaido, alongside other opposition representatives, as “privileged interlocutors” for “working towards a democratic future for Venezuela” — a demotion for Guaido, who was recognized until last year in joint statements by EU countries as president of the country’s National Assembly.

Brussels already departed from that position in early January when EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell released a much-criticized statement in which he, on behalf of EU countries, called Guaido a representative of Venezuela’s “outgoing National Assembly.” That move followed elections to the Venezuelan parliament in December, which were widely criticized as undemocratic and boycotted by Guaido.

The European Parliament last week adopted a resolution urging EU countries to reestablish their support for Guaido as the president of the last democratically elected parliament and, by extension, Venezuela’s interim president. Monday’s decision to not follow suit triggered sharp criticism by leading MEPs dealing with South American relations.

“I find it rather sad that, after having passed such a strong and specific resolution, the Council of EU foreign ministers is so weak in its manifestation of will,” said Spanish MEP Leopoldo Lopez Gil from the European People’s Party.

“I regret a lot that despite such a serious situation” of human rights violations in Venezuela and millions of people fleeing the country, “we find ourselves again in a situation of ambiguity,” Lopez Gil added.

Dita Charanzova, the Parliament’s vice president in charge of relations with Latin America, said she was “disappointed” by the Council conclusions. She added that “this policy of non-recognition only benefits” strongman Nicolas Maduro, who has ruled Venezuela since 2013 but whose reelection as president in 2018 was widely denounced as illegitimate.