On January 10th, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said that the US does not recognize Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s “illegitimate” power.
The US will not recognize the Maduro dictatorship’s illegitimate inauguration. We will continue to increase pressure on the corrupt regime, support the democratic National Assembly, and call for democracy and freedom in Venezuela.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 10, 2019
“We hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for the safety of all Venezuelans who cry out demanding to freely choose their leaders. We will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of a Venezuelan democracy that reverses the current constitutional crisis,” Bolton stressed.
“The Trump Administration resolutely supports the Venezuelan National Assembly, the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people,” Bolton also said.
President Maduro was sworn in for his second 6-year-term on January 10th and it is supposed to last until 2025. His assumption of office was widely criticized as illegitimate by the European Union and some Latin American countries that have refused to recognize Maduro as the president.
Sputnik reported that “the United States has repeatedly criticized his policies, while the Venezuelan president has suggested that Bolton was preparing a plan to overthrow and kill him.”
Politico further reported that Bolton’s statement came after opposition leader Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez used an article in the Venezuelan constitution to declare that Maduro is not the legitimate president, a move Bolton supported as a “courageous decision.”
On January 10th, a State Department release said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Guaidó over the phone to congratulate him on his swearing-in as Venezuela’s new President of the democratically elected National Assembly.
“The Secretary reinforced the U.S. commitment to the National Assembly, the only legitimate and last democratically elected institution in Venezuela, and the re-establishment of democracy in Venezuela. The two reaffirmed their desire to work together closely on a broad range of issues throughout the year to bring about a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic future for the Venezuelan people.”
Early on January 12th, France 24 reported that Venezuela’s opposition called for “a mass protest against President Nicolas Maduro in a bid to oust the socialist leader in favor of ‘a transitional government.’”
The president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, said on January 11 that the constitution gives the legislature the right to assume transitional power after declaring Maduro a “usurper,” but said it would need military backing and for people to take to the streets to demand change.
“Is it enough to lean on the constitution in a dictatorship? No. It needs to be the people, the military and the international community that lead us to take over,” said the Guaidó, speaking to a crowd of around 1,000 opposition supporters in Caracas.
According to the France 24 report, Guaidó’s bid received “wide international support” on Twitter.
Also on January 10th, the United States Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green released a statement on Twitter blaming Maduro for “hunger, a severe health crisis, violence, and countless violations of human rights, while causing a massive exodus of Venezuelan citizens.”
I condemn the illegitimate so-called "inauguration" of #Maduro in #Venezuela. The people deserve a transparent, democratic, citizen-responsive government that respects human dignity. I express solidarity with the Venezuelan people who seek democracy, justice, and freedom. pic.twitter.com/ewqdmYmpaM
— Mark Green (@USAIDMarkGreen) January 11, 2019
On January 8th, the US also sanctioned Venezuelan individuals allegedly connected to President Maduro.
These sanctions come in addition to earlier sanctions on transactions of Venezuela’s digital currency and a ban on Venezuela’s gold exports, a significant source of revenue for the South American country.
“The United States always maintains its unilateral posture of not respecting multilateral agencies while trampling on international law,” said Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, adding that Venezuela does not recognize any sanctions imposed on the country without UN authorization.
China’s position on Maduro’s assumption of office appeared to be positive, as Xinhua reported that “Han Changfu, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy and China’s minister of agriculture and rural affairs, also attended the ceremony and conveyed President Xi’s congratulations.”
Russia also appears to support President Maduro. In early December, Maduro said that Venezuela has signed deals securing investment from Russia in the South American country’s oil and gold sectors following a three-day trip to Moscow.
Furthermore, on January 11th, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the West may have funded protests targeting Venezuela’s embassies in various countries.
TASS reported the following:
“According to her, Moscow is well aware who funded protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s inauguration, as well as “many other performances.”
“Funds particularly came from the budgets of [Western] countries with direct information support from Brussels,” Zakharova said.
She stressed that developments in Venezuela were the country’s internal affair. “We have on numerous occasions called for refraining from meddling in Venezuela’s domestic affairs and give the country’s people a chance to resolve their issues through legal methods,” the Russian diplomat pointed out.”