Stocksak: Venezuela’s opposition is unwilling to support interim Guaido govt in 2023

© Stocksak. FILEPHOTO: Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s opposition chief, addresses the media in Caracas, Venezuela on September 27, 2022. REUTERS/GabyOraa//File Photograph

By Marianna Parraga and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Stocksak), Venezuela’s opposition parties have indicated that they will likely withdraw support for Juan Guaido’s Washington-endorsed interim government. Four people familiar with the matter said this, raising questions about the country’s future overseas holdings.

    Guaido has been the public face of the country’s opposition since the United States and many other governments rejected President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election as a sham.

    But most opposition representatives visiting Washington this week told U.S. officials they would not continue backing him or anyone else as their leader for another year of interim government.

Instead, they want the focus to be on choosing a candidate to challenge Maduro or any other representative of the government in the next elections, tentatively scheduled for late-2023 or 2024.

Guaido invoked 2019 the constitution to assume a new presidency. To the dismay of many Venezuelans he has not been able to remove Maduro who has retained a grip on power supported by the military and its allies Russia China, Cuba, Iran.

Guaido’s departure as leader would cause problems for the boards of parliament that oversee Venezuela’s overseas companies. Citgo Petroleum, a Houston-based oil refiner, is considered the crown jewel of Venezuelan international assets.

U.S. courts have recognized that those boards were legitimate based on Guaido’s recognition.

Representatives from Venezuela’s opposition attended the meetings in Washington. A spokesperson for Citgo didn’t immediately respond to my request.

The U.S. State Department stated that it recognized Guaido, and coordinates with his government “on the steps required to move forward on an negotiated solution which leads to the restoration democracy to Venezuela.”

Guaido stated that the U.S. administration had “ratified one additional time” its support for his government. He did not provide details about the timing of the approval. Guaido also said that the Venezuelan constitution requires that his tenure last until a presidential election occurs.

The potential for upheaval is as the U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration focuses on global energy security after Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and efforts to reduce its energy exports.

According to four sources, five of six representatives from opposition parties told State Department officials that they would not support Guaido and any other interim leader on Tuesday. Guaido’s Voluntad Popular party was the only one who supported a continuation.

The sources said that Washington, which has indicated it could relax sanctions on Venezuela if Maduro talks with the opposition in Mexico and takes steps towards holding free elections, had not yet made a clear position.

Opinion leaders tried to make a similar move to abandon Guaido last year, but it was stopped by lawyers after they were warned about foreign assets. These assets have a long list of creditors who want to seize them for expropriation claims.

Lawyers and other experts have divergent opinions about Venezuela’s constitutional path for forming and maintaining an interim government. This is complicated by the expiration of Guaido’s term in the parliament.

    U.S.-based Chevron (NYSE: ) has asked Washington for an exemption from sanctions against Venezuela to allow it expand its severely restricted oil production. According to sources familiar with the matter, Chevron’s request is being considered by U.S. officials, but no decision has been taken.

    Under U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, the United States recognized Guaido as rightful leader in January 2019, and dozens of other countries followed suit. Many of these countries have since reversed their positions.

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