Juan Guaidó is rapidly losing the last shreds of legitimacy he had left following the announcement by the European Union that they will no longer recognize him as interim president of Venezuela. Guaidó had proclaimed himself president on January 23, 2019 after being elected president of Venezuela’s then opposition-controlled National Assembly. His claim had been immediately recognized by the United States government, which took a more aggressive approach towards the country under the administration of Donald Trump, and quickly followed by the recognition by right-wing Latin American governments, the European Union and most of its member states.
Guaidó’s claim to interim presidency rested upon his role as president and member of the National Assembly. However, he lost the presidency in January 2020 (according to the Venezuelan constitution the presidency of the National Assembly expires after a year) and he boycotted the parliamentary elections held on December 6. On January 5, 2021, Venezuela’s recently-elected National Assembly was sworn in, as per the constitution, which put an official end to the opposition-controlled Assembly in office from 2016-2021. With the new Assembly sworn in, Guaidó is officially out.
Despite the fact that the EU will no longer recognize Guaidó, they still do not recognize the results of the December 6 elections. They have also made no indications that they will address the application of unilateral coercive measures on Venezuela by EU member countries or the over-compliance to these measures by different EU based companies and financial institutions. Many of the blockade measures imposed by EU nations or companies have been justified under the reasoning that their countries do not recognize president Nicolás Maduro and instead recognize Guaidó. It remains to be seen how this issue will be addressed.
The EU’s announcement also came in the same week as the publication of an exposé by the Washington Post which reveals alleged corruption committed by Guaidó in his efforts to usurp the assets of the legitimate Venezuelan government abroad. That the article was published in a mainstream US newspaper that has taken very harsh anti-Maduro positions in the past is quite significant in further debunking Guaidó’s legitimacy.
Meanwhile, many are hopeful that the incoming government of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US will bring about some minor but necessary changes in US foreign policy towards Venezuela. Biden allegedly has yet to meet with Guaidó and some analysts believe there is hope for negotiations over the unilateral coercive measures.
On December 1, a petition was turned into the European Commission in Brussels calling for the European Union to recognize the upcoming Venezuelan elections. The petition signed by over 3,500 people from over 30 nations, criticized the EU’s subservience to US political orientations: “This alignment with the policy of Washington’s hawks is a serious sign of the abdication of an independent foreign policy that has been exhibited in numerous speeches of intent.” The latest announcement shows that this alignment is not everlasting as the US loses more and more allies in its hard line regime-change approach to Venezuela.