Moscow on Thursday lashed out at Western countries over Venezuela’s political crisis after the US and allies recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim leader, sidelining President Nicolas Maduro, reported AFP.
In the first official reaction from Moscow to the dramatic move against Maduro, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticised the international community, which has lined up to give its backing to Guaido as fresh protests rock the impoverished nation.
“The events which are currently taking place in Venezuela show clearly the attitude of the progressive international community towards international law, sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of a country where it seeks a change in power,” Zakharova said in a Facebook post.
Zakharova said the US “handpicking” of a government in Caracas perfectly illustrates the true Western sentiments toward international law, sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of states.
Zakharova made the comments from Algeria, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is kicking off a tour of the region.
Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s opposition-led legislature, declared himself “acting president of Venezuela” on Wednesday in front of crowds of cheering supporters.
Within minutes, US President Donald Trump issued a statement declaring Maduro “illegitimate” and calling the National Assembly “the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people”.
A dozen regional players soon followed suit, with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Canada among those backing Guaido.
The European Union did not join the countries lining up behind Guaido but called for “free and credible elections”.
The avalanche of support for Guaido dramatically raised the stakes in Venezuela, an oil-rich nation that has become deeply impoverished.
Maduro, who also has the support of Venezuela’s powerful military, is an ally of Russia, which last month sent two nuclear-capable bombers to the country to participate in a military drill.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also called Maduro to express solidarity, according to his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
Erdogan told Maduro: “My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we are standing by you,” the Turkish presidential spokesman wrote on Twitter, using the hashtag “#WeAreMADURO”.
Venezuela severs ties with US
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro declared all US diplomats persona non grata on Wednesday, after Washington recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s president. Guaido, however, said he wanted the US diplomats to stay, setting the stage for a potential diplomatic incident.
Cuba and Bolivia have expressed support for Maduro, in the fight against the “claws of imperialism,” as tweeted by President Evo Morales while Mexico has said it would continue to recognize Maduro’s legitimacy “for now.”
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister lashed out at “subordinate clowns” who he said followed the “owner of the imperialist circus” in recognition of Guaido, as expected.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said Caracas is breaking off diplomatic relations with the US, giving American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country, after Donald Trump recognized the opposition leader as interim head.
Maduro announced the move to a large crowd of cheering supporters from a balcony of the presidential Miraflores Palace in Caracas.
Earlier this week, Maduro had called for a revision of Venezuela’s diplomatic relations with the US after Vice President Mike Pence openly called for regime change in the struggling country.
Maduro said the US was shamelessly interfering in his country’s domestic affairs and rejected its “imperialist interventionism” which he said promoted “instability and violence.”
Ahead of the mass street protests against Maduro on Wednesday, called by the opposition-led National Assembly, US Vice President Mike Pence released a video message reaffirming unwavering support for a regime change in Venezuela.
“Enough of aggressions and conspiracies, enough is enough!” said Maduro, rejecting the “imperialist interventionism” and open calls for coup d’état that he called unprecedented in the 200-year history of US-Venezuela relations.
“Mr. Pence doesn’t have a job. Now he wants to come and run Venezuela, handing out instructions on what should happen” at the anti-government protests on Wednesday, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez noted, accusing the White House of openly “promoting instability and violence” in the Latin American country.
“Nobody in Latin America believes seriously that the US government is interested in democracy and freedom…because they have supported all the dictatorships that we had suffered in Latin America for decades,” Atilio Borón, professor of political science in the University of Buenos Aires, told RT.
They are creating a humanitarian crisis and then they want to appear as the ones who can solve all the problems.
“This is a desperate move, because they cannot defeat Maduro at the ballot box and they are promoting a sort of public insurrection which may backfire,” Boron added. “If they want to help, the first thing they should do is stop blocking the foreign relations with Venezuela and other countries which are ready to sell their goods to Venezuela.”
“It is so ironic that the US political establishment has been crying wolf over Russia and president Trump being in cahoots with the Russians, but when it comes to foreign policy, when it comes to US imperialism and intervention – especially Latin America – there is consensus amongst the corporate elite in our political establishment, under the guise of spreading democracy and freedom,” noted Andrew King, PhD candidate in public policy at the University of Massachusetts.
Maduro was inaugurated for a second six-year term earlier this month, prompting Guaidó to declare his presidency illegitimate. While calling on the country to mobilize, and urging the military to defect, the opposition leader has also been seeking international support to topple Maduro.
Venezuela has already descended into violence ahead of the mass opposition-led protest due to take place on Wednesday, marking the 61st anniversary of the military uprising that toppled the dictatorship of General Marcos Pérez Jiménez.
On Tuesday, police used tear gas to disperse crowds of protesters who staged rallies throughout Caracas in response to the Supreme Court decision that declared all acts of the National Assembly null and void. Confrontations with authorities were also fueled by the detention of a group of the National Guard soldiers on Monday, who stole weapons and called for an uprising against the 56-year-old president.
Maduro and his government believe that the crisis and discontent in Venezuela have been deliberately fueled by foreign powers. The president has repeatedly accused the US of collaborating with Venezuelan neighbors and the opposition to oust him from power. US economic pressure and the decline of oil prices in recent years have contributed to the severe social and economic crisis in Venezuela. Hit by hyperinflation and a shortage of basic necessities, millions of people have been forced to leave the country in search of a better life elsewhere in Latin America.