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Govt supports self-declared Venezuelan president's call for 'free, fair, democratic' elections

Young Fine Gael has called on the government to recognise Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.

Juan Guaido
Juan Guaido
Image: Rafael Hernandez/dpa via PA Images

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said it supports Venezuela’s self-declared president’s call for “free, fair and democratic elections”. 

Germany, France, Spain and the UK yesterday recognised Venezuela’s opposition chief Juan Guaidó as interim leader after President Nicolas Maduro rejected their ultimatum to announce new presidential elections.

The US, which has not ruled out a military intervention in crisis-wracked Venezuela, was the first to recognise him as acting president, followed by a dozen Latin American countries.

In a statement this evening, a government spokesperson said: “The actions of President Maduro and his government have led to a devastating humanitarian crisis with up to three million citizens leaving the country and severe hardship for its people.”

The spokesperson said that “Ireland is committed to finding ways to foster shared democratic solutions that can bring political stability and address the pressing needs of the Venezuelan people, including by increasing EU humanitarian support”. 

The Irish government fully supports the democratically elected National Assembly, the last remaining fully democratic institution in Venezuela. Its powers need to be restored and respected. 
We also support the call made by the President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó for free, fair and democratic elections. 

Despite the government’s comments today, Young Fine Gael has called on the government to join the growing international consensus which recognises Guaidó as the interim Venezuelan president. 

“The fruits of two decades of Chavez/Maduro dictatorship can be seen in the poverty which is ravaging Venezuela,” Young Fine Gael president Killian Foley-Walsh said. 

“It is in this context that so many of Ireland’s international partners and Venezuela’s neighbours have acknowledged Maduro’s illegitimacy by offering formal recognition and support to the next highest ranking Venezuelan politician with credibility, which is speaking Juan Guaidó,” he said. 

Further to recent statements by Ireland’s partners around the world, as well as last week’s vote in the European Parliament recognising Guaidó, Young Fine Gael calls on the government to do right by Ireland’s Venezuelan community and recognise Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela, in order to organise free and fair elections and to restore democracy to the people of that country. 

Interference

Guaidó is trying to force Maduro from power, set up a transitional government and hold a new presidential poll.

He thanked his EU supporters “for supporting all Venezuelans in this struggle we undertake to rescue our nation’s democracy, freedom and justice”.

But key Maduro ally Russia slammed what it called interference in the oil-rich but now poor Latin American country, saying it was an attempt to “legitimise usurped power”.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the EU of trying to “topple the government by violence and ruse,” while berating the US for treating Venezuela like “one of your states”.

Guaidó (35) claims his legitimacy from the constitution and has been ramping up pressure on Maduro by calling his supporters out into the streets.

The next mass demonstration is due for 12 February.

Guaidó must still find a way to bring in the humanitarian aid given the military’s loyalty to Maduro.

He accused the military yesterday of planning to divert aid being stockpiled in Colombia, Brazil and an unidentified Caribbean island, in order to distribute it through the socialist government’s subsidised food program for its own supporters.

The National Assembly said the military must decide whether it is on the side of the people or “the problem”.

Guaidó knows he needs the armed forces on his side to dislodge Maduro. He was boosted on Saturday by the defection of a top air force general.

His fledgling alternative administration will hold talks in Washington on 14 February on responding to “the largest hemispheric humanitarian crisis in modern history”. 

Maduro won’t cave

Guaidó branded Maduro illegitimate over his reelection in May, which the opposition boycotted after several of its leaders were either jailed, barred or forced into exile.

The US and EU dismissed the elections as a fraud.

Maduro has flatly rejected demands for new elections, telling Spanish television he would not “cave in to pressure.” 

He has supported plans for a meeting of Latin American and EU states in a “Contact Group” in Montevideo on Thursday, though.

The United Nations said 40 people were killed in clashes with security forces in a week of protests last month, coinciding with Guaidó’s self-proclamation as acting leader. Local NGO Foro Penal said almost 1,000 people were detained between 21 and 31 January.

 With reporting by AFP

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