Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 5, 2019

Newsline: Brazil reluctantly recognized Venezuela opposition envoy as ambassador

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro received the diplomatic credentials of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s envoy to Brazil, formally recognizing her as the ambassador of the neighboring country. Ambassador Maria Teresa Belandria had said that the Brazilian government withdrew its invitation to present her credentials at the presidential palace. But her spokeswoman said on June 4 the government had changed its mind. (https://en.mercopress.com/2019/06/05/brazil-reluctantly-recognized-venezuela-opposition-envoy-as-ambassador) Bolsonaro’s spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said Brazil was adopting the stance of other members of the so-called Lima Group of countries that back Guaido and the holding of democratic elections in Venezuela. Belandria, however, will not be able to move in to the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia because it is still occupied by diplomats representing Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, and they will not be expelled from Brazil, Rego Barros said. Diplomatic analysts said last week that the military wing of the Bolsonaro government was reluctant to recognize Guaido’s envoy because officials do not see an imminent change of government in Venezuela. Guaido’s call on the Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro and join the opposition movement went largely unheeded last month, leading many to think he had overplayed his hand with the support of the US government. Bolsonaro, like many leaders in the region, has been sharply critical of Maduro and has recognized Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader.

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Newsline: Venezuela’s opposition ambassador stuck in London limbo

Vanessa Neumann is London’s most unconventional diplomat. An ambassador without an embassy, she nonetheless performs most of the functions normally associated with the role: meeting the host government, liaising with the leader back home, attending diplomatic receptions and dealing with consular queries. The main complication is another Venezuelan holds the same job and uses the official embassy building. (https://www.ft.com/content/76b65524-86bf-11e9-a028-86cea8523dc2) Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has been recognised this year by more than 50 nations — including the UK, the US and most of the EU — as Venezuela’s rightful interim president. But leftist president Nicolás Maduro has refused to cede power in Caracas since winning another six-year term in what were widely seen as rigged elections last year. This has left Mr Guaidó, and his 26-strong diplomatic team around the world, in a legal limbo as they try to operate a makeshift parallel government. “There is no rule of law in Venezuela,” said Dr Neumann over breakfast in a fashionable London café. “The regime, the dictatorship is going all out against the democratic forces and the role of the international community is pivotal. So those of us who take these roles as ambassadors, each of us has to be ready to fight. It’s a very uneven battle.” Dr Neumann, a well-connected academic, consultant and author, says she was asked to take on the UK envoy role two months ago. She got the call from Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo López, an old family friend, with Mr Guaidó’s blessing. For now, Rocío del Valle Maneiro, the Maduro government’s ambassador to the UK, appears to hold the cards. She occupies the official Venezuelan residence in London’s Holland Park and directs the staff of the embassy building in South Kensington and a third building, Bolívar Hall. But money from Caracas for the official London embassy has been a problem. Some of the diplomats, unable to afford their rent after months without pay, took to sleeping in the office, according to a leaked letter of complaint from Ms Maneiro published last year in Venezuelan media.