Berlin (CNSNews.com) – The Maduro regime in Venezuela has vowed to “fully review” its relations with those European Union member-states that have recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as president.
The regime’s foreign ministry said the 16 E.U. governments to have taken that stance – joining the U.S. and most Latin American nations – were in doing so “submitting to the United States administration’s strategy to overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.”
More than half of the E.U.’s 28 member-states now recognized Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela, after Maduro, blamed for his country’s spiraling economic crisis and accused of corruption, ignored an E.U. ultimatum to announce a snap election.
The 16 countries are Austria, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Guaidó last Wednesday called Maduro’s re-election last May invalid, saying that allows him to assume interim power under the country’s constitution.
The Trump administration was quick to voice support for Guaidó, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describing Maduro’s government as “morally bankrupt.”
After German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed Monday that her government would recognize Guaidó, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced five million euro ($5.7 million) in humanitarian aid to help alleviate “severe shortages” being suffered by the people of Venezuela.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Venezuelans had the right to “express themselves freely and democratically,” while a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said “further steps” such as sanctions were being considered.
Not all E.U. members have been as eager to voice support for an interim president in Venezuela, however, with states such as Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Greece and Ireland avoiding any statement on Guaidió, while calling for fresh elections.
In Italy, leaders of the 5 Star Movement party, comprising half of the populist coalition government, rejected the notion outright, blocking a joint E.U. statement and declaring that it was not the E.U.’s place “to tell another nation what to do.”
Malta was also vocally opposed, and its lawmakers abstained on a European Parliament resolution last week calling for the recognition of Guaidió. (The vote in Brussels on Thursday passed by 439-104, with 88 abstentions.)
Maltese MEP Alfred Sant said while he viewed Maduro’s government as “unacceptably authoritarian,” Guaidió’s party was “ready to sabotage the actions of a legitimate government,” openly seeking President Trump’s help “to take over the state.”
Beyond the E.U., Russia has also been strongly opposed to Guaidó, saying the position taken by some E.U. states violated international law and was an attempt to “legitimize usurped power.”
Matt Pinsker, professor of international law at Virginia Commonwealth University, said that due to the severity of Venezuela’s crisis and Maduro’s poor humanitarian record, constitutional law had become irrelevant.
“Regardless of what’s in the constitution, there is nothing legitimate about Maduro,” he said.
“He is the most corrupt dictator in the Western hemisphere who, like Hugo Chavez before him, has led Venezuela to ruin by exploiting its people through socialist policies enacted by their corrupt cronies.”
“It is not a legitimate government and it is time for a new one,” Pinsker said.
An economic crisis since 2010 has seen the inflation rate soar, with the International Monetary Fund estimating it to have reached 1,000,000 percent in 2018. According to U.N. figures, three million Venezuelans have left the country since the start of the crisis.
“Massive emigration is happening and it is becoming a geopolitical problem,” Alberto Navarrete, a Venezuelan filmmaker, told CNSNews.com via email. “Europeans are reacting to this factor.”
Navarrete said that many Venezuelans believe Guaidió would have won in a fair election, and the mass departures from the country was an indicator of this.