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Archive for Venezuela

Newsline: Russian diplomat pledges to facilitate development of Venezuela’s armed forces

Russia will continue to facilitate the development of Venezuela’s military potential, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters on July 5. (https://tass.com/defense/1067255) “We will continue our multifaceted efforts on developing partner relations with brotherly Venezuela. We will continue to implement projects in various areas, to hold events within the existing agreements that would strengthen the military potential of this country’s armed forces,” he said. Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and speaker of the National Assembly, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital, Caracas, on January 23. On the same day, the United States recognized him as an interim president, and the countries of the Lima Group (excluding Mexico) and the Organization of American States followed suit. Most European Union member states recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.

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Newsline: German ambassador allowed to return to Venezuela

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said in a statement that Ambassador Daniel Kriener could return to Caracas in the context of a process to “normalize the diplomatic relations between both states.” “Following a series of contacts with the German government, a process of normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states has been started,” the statement continued. (https://www.dw.com/en/german-ambassador-allowed-to-return-to-venezuela/a-49438255) Talks were held in Berlin on July 1 between Venezuela’s Deputy Minister for Europe, Yvan Gil, and the German Foreign Ministry’s Latin America director Marian Schuegraf. Kriener was declared persona non grata by President Nicolas Maduro in March after he and other European ambassadors went to welcome opposition leader Juan Guiado back from a tour of Latin America. Guaido had been seeking support for his campaign to take over as president from Maduro. In February, the German government had recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state. After Monday’s meeting in Berlin, Maduro “decided to nullify” his March statement, and with Kriener’s planned return to Caracas, looked forward to building “an agenda of mutual interest, in accordance with the principles of international cooperation.”

Newsline: Russian embassy in Caracas said military ‘technicians’ left Venezuela

Russia was withdrawing its military “technicians” from crisis-stricken Venezuela on June 26, the Caracas embassy said, as President Vladimir Putin gears up for talks with US leader Donald Trump later this week. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-withdraw-military-technicians-venezuela-wednesday-embassy-184916199.html) The move comes three months after Moscow drew US ire by deploying around 100 military experts in Venezuela after Washington indicated it could use force to oust beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro, a Russian ally. “The Il-62 plane which is carrying Russian technicians who have been in Venezuela over the past months… was leaving Caracas for Moscow on June 26,” the Russian embassy in Caracas said in a post on Facebook. An embassy press attache told AFP “one plane” was departing for Moscow, declining to explain the timing of the move or provide any other comments. In the statement, the embassy sought to play down the nature of cooperation as “fairly routine maintenance work”, saying it would continue. “Russia delivered to Venezuela high-level equipment that requires regular maintenance. Furthermore, Russian specialists provided technical training to Venezuelan staff”,” the embassy said. “Unlike reported, it was not a Russian military presence but the fulfilment of maintenance contracts, without any purpose of destabilisation.” Russian experts were leaving Venezuela as Russia’s Putin is gearing up for talks with Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan on June 28.

Newsline: Trinidad and Tobago staff at Embassy in Venezuela concerned about security

Staff at the Trinidad and Tobago Embassy in Venezuela have expressed concerns about their security, reported Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses. He was responding to a question in the House on the reasons for the recall of staff at the TT Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela in early 2019. He replied: “The situation in Venezuela is one that warrants close and continuous monitoring to ensure proper and ongoing management of the relations between Trinidad and Tobago and that country.” (https://newsday.co.tt/2019/06/10/tt-staff-at-embassy-in-vzuela-concerned-about-security/) Moses said it is a practice of foreign ministries to avail themselves of this option when the situation dictates and when the issues to be addressed are of particular concern to the Government of a sending state. “Given the ongoing issues in Venezuela, it was deemed necessary to undertake such consultations with staff of the TT Embassy in Venezuela. Significantly it gave the ministry the opportunity to address concerns relating to the security and well-being of staff and their families.”

Newsline: Venezuelan opposition sets up rival embassy in Geneva restaurant

Venezuela’s political crisis is also having repercussions in Switzerland, where two rival embassies – in Bern and Geneva – claim to represent the official voice of the troubled South American country. The Venezuelan embassy in Bern is the longstanding official diplomatic mission of the Caracas authorities, under the control of President Nicolás Maduro. However, a small Venezuelan restaurant in Geneva, the main meeting point of Maduro’s opponents in Switzerland, has effectively become a rival embassy, under the authority of the self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaidó. In Switzerland, two ambassadors each claim to be the legitimate diplomatic representative of Venezuela. Guaidó appointed Maria-Alejandra Aristeguieta, a former United Nations diplomat and anti-Maduro activist, to represent him in Switzerland. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-tussle_venezuelan-opposition-sets-up-rival-embassy-in-geneva-restaurant/45011138) She has been working on her own out of the Geneva restaurant to establish as many contacts as possible with the authorities and powers in Switzerland. Experienced ambassador César Osvelio Méndez González works in Bern. His message is simple: President Maduro’s power is strong, as is the Venezuelan embassy in Switzerland.

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.

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.