A bit of greater than two years in the past, Juan Guaidó was showered with bipartisan applause when President Donald Trump throughout his state of the union speech praised the Venezuelan opposition chief as a “very courageous man” who carries on his shoulders the democratic hopes of an entire nation.
But in a sign of how far his political fate has fallen, and how quickly U.S. geopolitical calculations can shift, the 38-year-old wasn’t even invited to this week’s Summit of the Americas — despite the Biden administration’s persistent promotion of democracy and insistence it recognises Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
Meanwhile, the man Mr. Guaidó has been trying to unseat, Nicolás Maduro, is taking something of a victory lap. On a rare foreign trip to Turkey this week, Mr. Maduro, who is the target of U.S. sanctions and a federal narcotics indictment, denounced the decision to exclude him and leftist allies from Cuba and Nicaragua from the gathering as a “stab” in the back of regional cooperation.
“This is a clear win for Mr. Maduro,” Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of Americas, said from Los Angeles, where he was attending the summit. “He’s seen allies take up his cause at the summit while preventing his primary rival, whom Washington recognises as president, from attending.” In what may be an attempt at damage control, Mr. Biden on Wednesday spoke with Mr. Guaidó for the first time.
But coming on the heels of weeks of silence from the White House about whether Mr. Guaidó would be invited or not, the call, which lasted around 17 minutes, provided little comfort to Venezuela’s pro-democracy movement.
“We don’t want to be seen as party crashers going where we aren’t wanted,” said one Mr. Guaidó envoy on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic dealings.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan downplayed suggestions the U.S. was snubbing a staunch ally.
Speaking aboard Air Force 1 on its way to Los Angeles, Mr. Sullivan insisted the decision to not invite anyone from the Guaidó camp, and instead involve civil society activists from Venezuela, was a tactical one to encourage negotiations between Mr. Maduro and his opponents that leads to “finally a greater future for the Venezuelan individuals.” Mr. Guaido’s doable presence on the summit additionally seems to have irritated lots of the Venezuelan authorities’s allies, together with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who determined to skip the summit over the exclusion of Mr. Maduro and the leaders of Cuba and Nicaragua.
A Mexican official confirmed that his authorities requested the U.S. to exclude Mr. Guaidó as a part of its back-and-forth with the Biden administration on the visitor checklist, an effort that finally failed to influence Mr. López Obrador to partake within the summit. The official, who requested anonymity to debate diplomatic dealings, stated that different nations had carried out the identical.
Joining the Mexican chief’s boycott had been fellow leftist leaders of Bolivia, Grenada, Honduras, St. Kitts & Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Also staying dwelling in protest, though not in solidarity with Mr. Maduro, had been the leaders of El Salvador and Guatemala, in addition to the president Uruguay, who was uncovered to COVID.
But it is not simply overseas strain that has Mr. Biden cautious of inviting Mr. Guaidó.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a spike in vitality costs, the U.S. has began to re-evaluate its coverage on Venezuela, a rustic that sits atop the world’s largest petroleum reserves however whose decades-long decline in oil manufacturing has been made worse by U.S. sanctions.
In March, U.S. officers led by Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council’s senior director for the western hemisphere, travelled to Caracas to fulfill with Mr. Maduro. Then, as now, Mr. Guaidó was stored on the sidelines, with U.S. officers not assembly with him in the course of the a number of day journey. The aim of the talks was to dangle earlier than Mr. Maduro the potential of sanctions aid in alternate for a return to negotiations in Mexico along with his opponents, one thing that to this point hasn’t occurred.
Meanwhile, Mr. Guaidó continues to struggle for change, though his avenue appearances are much less frequent, and crowds drastically diminished from when he launched his problem to Mr. Maduro in 2019.
On Saturday, his supporters had been met within the western metropolis of Maracaibo, a brief distance from Colombia and a flight onward to the U.S., with a barrage of flying plastic chairs and fisticuffs from allies of Maduro.
“The violent ones were left empty handed,” Mr. Guaidó advised a small group of supporters to shouts of “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom” after the raucous brawl. “Let’s be clear: we are not going to take a single step backward.”