In Venezuela, the US Recognizes a Nonexistent Government – TedSnider 1/25/23


In a piece of bizarre political theater, the US now officially recognizes a government in Venezuela that does not exist. Despite the termination of the government recognized by the US, State Department spokesman Ned Price assured a press briefing that “our approach has not changed.” The US still considers the elected President illegitimate – an increasingly isolated position – and the assembly the unelected president led legitimate, though he no longer leads it, and they are no longer the assembly.

Since February of 2019, the US has recognized the never elected Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, creating an already bizarre situation in which there were parallel governments in Venezuela: one recognized within the country and one recognized outside the country.

But the US plan failed in its goal of removing Nicolás Maduro from power. And after four years, the opposition in Venezuela decided to abandon the plan and move on. At the end of December, 2022, Venezuela’s opposition lawmakers by an overwhelming preliminary vote of 72-23, removed Guaidó from power and pulled the plug on his interim government. On December 30, three of Venezuela’s four main opposition parties supported the proposal to remove Guaidó.

Though the US continued to support Guaidó, few in Venezuela did. Only 6% of Venezuelans said they would support Guaidó in presidential primaries, and more than 56% said the interim government should be terminated. Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of Latin American History at Pomona College, and one of the world’s leading experts on Venezuelan history and politics, told me in November, 2022 that “For all intents and purposes he has been sidelined by developments in the country and even for those in the opposition he is a non-entity.”

After the opposition move to remove Guaidó, Salas told me that, internally, the opposition is in disarray, and, externally, “[e]xcept for continuing to impose sanctions, which have also failed, Guaidó’s collapse left the US without a strategy for dealing with Venezuela.”…

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