China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua support Maduro
HAVANA TIMES – The international community took to familiar trenches on Thursday, after the United States recognized a Venezuelan opposition leader’s self-declaration as interim president, reported dpa news.
While Western powers largely put themselves behind the hundreds of thousands of protesters supporting the opposition and Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly who declared himself interim president, voices from Moscow to Beijing defended President Nicolas Maduro.
“This immediate recognition only has the goal of dividing Venezuelan society and intensifying the destabilization of the domestic situation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday, referring to the US support for Guaido.
The move makes it clear that Washington wants “to replace inconvenient governments,” the statement said.
Iran, which has maintained close relations with Venezuela and Maduro for years, stood behind the president.
“Iran supports the government and the people of Venezuela against illegitimate and illegal actions such as coup attempts and foreign interference in the country’s domestic affairs,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said.
Sharp words also came from Washington’s NATO ally Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also throwing his support behind Maduro.
“My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you,” Erdogan told Maduro in a phone call, the Turkish president’s spokesman said early Thursday.
Maduro said on Wednesday his country was severing diplomatic relations with the US, giving diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
China called on all parties in the crisis to stay calm and seek a “political solution,” while adding that Beijing does not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
“China supports the efforts of the Venezuelan government to safeguard the independence and stability of the country’s sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also urged all political actors in Venezuela to commit to a political dialogue to address the current crisis.
“[Guterres] urges all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent violence and avoid any escalation,” the UN chief’s spokesman said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The casualties that have been reported amid the demonstrations and unrest should be investigated in a transparent and independent manner, according to Guterres.
Protesters estimated to number hundreds of thousands marched around the country, calling on Maduro to resign on Wednesday.
At least 13 people were killed during the protests, the non-governmental organization Observatorio de Conflictos tweeted. Local media reported the use of tear gas, while the Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro condemned “the repression” against the demonstrators.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron showed support for the the protesters.
“Following the illegitimate election of Nicolas Maduro in May 2018, Europe supports the restoration of democracy,” Macron wrote on Twitter in both French and Spanish. Macron did not mention Guaido by name.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen tweeted: “New hope in #Venezuela. #Denmark will always support legitimate elected democratic institutions – not least the parliamentary assembly including … Juan Guaido.”
The European Union also supported the Venezuelan opposition, denouncing the 2018 elections.
“The people of Venezuela have massively called for democracy and the possibility to freely determine their own destiny. These voices cannot be ignored,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
“The EU strongly calls for the start of an immediate political process leading to free and credible elections, in conformity with the Constitutional order.”
The May election was widely criticized as undemocratic. Maduro was sworn in for a second term on January 10 amid growing international pressure on him to resign.
The South American country has been overcome by a massive economic and political crisis. Annual inflation has reached nearly 2 million per cent and millions of people have fled abroad.
Other countries expressing support for Maduro were Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.