Rome has effectively derailed an EU statement meant to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader if President Nicolas Maduro fails to set up snap elections, a Five Star Movement source confirmed to RT.
Italy announced the veto at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers that started on January 31 in Romania, the source said. The statement, which was supposed to be delivered by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini recognized Guaido as interim president if snap elections were not held.
The European Parliament is the first European body to recognize Guaido “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 parliament urged the EU to follow suit but the effort stalled due to internal discord. A range of European nations have separately recognized the opposition chief as Venezuela’s acting president, including the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, and Austria. The coordinated move came after an eight-day deadline for Maduro to call presidential elections expired on Monday.
The US announced that it is backing the new interim leader and pledged their full support immediately after what has been labeled “a coup” by officials in Caracas. However Russia, China, Turkey and Iran said they see Maduro as the only legitimate leader, warning against meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
Maduro himself rejected the EU ultimatum but promised to push for political reform. He suggested that parliamentary elections be held earlier than 2020, arguing that the National Assembly – a legislative body dominated by the opposition and headed by Guaido – needs to be “re-legitimized.”
Following the announcement, Venezuela witnessed massive rallies, both for and against Maduro. Some of the country’s high-ranking officials, including a defense attaché in the US, voiced their support for Guaido, but the majority remained loyal to Maduro, including the army.
Political turmoil escalated in Venezuela after a plummeting economy led to skyrocketing prices, and management flaws left most of its population in poverty.