Venezuelan opposition renews support for Juan Guaidó

Opposition has high hopes for OAS Rio Treaty intervention

By Cody Weddle - Colombia/Venezuela Correspondent, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

BOGOTA, Colombia - The Venezuelan opposition's next hope is on the Organization of American States' Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty, better known as the Rio Treaty.

The treaty allows supporters of Juan Guaidó to use coordinated economic sanctions, military force and communications disruptions to push Nicolás Maduro out of the presidency.

"If your neighbor's house is burning down, do you stand and shout you should not intervene, or do you help your neighbor put out the fire?" U.S. Ambassador to the OAS Carlos Trujillo said Wednesday during a debate. 

The use of these powers to influence politics in Venezuela comes as Colombia is accusing Maduro of arming Colombian leftist guerrillas who stepped away from the 2016 peace agreement. 

Although some members of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly continue to disagree about whether or not to continue negotiations with Maduro, they all agreed Tuesday to give Guaidó their unrestricted support as interim president until Maduro steps out of the presidential palace.

U.S. President Donald Trump and 50 other world leaders have been standing behind Guaidó since January. Maduro has the support of the Venezuelan military elite, which has the backing of two global super powers: Russia and China. 

The opposition contests Maduro's reelection last year was fraudulent.

Guaidó said the negotiations Norway brokered in Barbados were over and the failure showed Maduro was "refusing to discuss and agree on a sensible proposal."​​​​​​

There is a branch of the opposition that disagreed with Guaidó, and it is still in negotiations with Maduro, but it represents less than one-tenth of the National Assembly seats. They are aiming to reform the electoral board and dissolve Maduro's constitutional assembly.

David Smilde, a Tulane University political analyst, said political forces always try to divide the opposition. It is a strategy that favors Maduro. 

"The biggest flaw of all is that it doesn't address the elephant in the room -- that is presidential power," Smilde said about the negotiations.  

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez recently told reporters that members of the ruling socialist party were going to return to the opposition-controlled National Assembly. The socialist party formed a single-party legislative body in 2016. ​​​​​​

"We have not closed, nor will we close, any doors to any initiative that will allow Venezuelans to resolve our troubles," Rodríguez said.

 

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