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Spanish PM applauds “courage” of self-declared president of Venezuela

Latin American leaders and Spanish opposition parties are pressuring Pedro Sánchez to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate head of the South American country

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaks to Juan Guaidó from Davos.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaks to Juan Guaidó from Davos.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is being pressured to take a stand on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, where an opposition leader named Juan Guaidó has declared himself the legitimate president of the country.

At the World Economic Forum underway in Davos, Switzerland, several Latin American leaders called on Sánchez to officially recognize Guaidó as the new president of Venezuela.

Colombia’s Iván Duque was particularly emphatic about the need for Spain to follow the lead of several countries in the Americas that have already expressed support for Guaidó.

Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech during the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Pedro Sanchez delivers a speech during the World Economic Forum in Davos. AFP

Sánchez, of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), was told that backing from Spain could play a big role in determining the European Union’s position. Back home, several opposition parties have also asked the PM to show support for Guaidó.

Sánchez is waiting for the EU to adopt a common position, but in the meantime he placed a telephone call to Guaidó to convey his “empathy for your courage” in this attempt “to represent the will of Venezuelans,” he told journalists in Davos.

Guaidó reportedly did not ask Sánchez to openly endorse him, and the Spanish leader has not yet taken this step. In a tweet following his conversation with Sánchez, Guaidó said that the Spanish leader “confirmed his complete backing” for the option of “achieving a transitional government and holding free elections.”

Spain is trying to convene a new meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council in order to craft a common position. In a statement released on Wednesday, the EU said that it “remains ready to support the restoration of democracy and rule of law in Venezuela through a credible peaceful political process in line with the Venezuelan constitution.”

Faced with criticism from the Spanish opposition, which has defined Sánchez’s position as ambiguous, José Manuel Albares, the Spanish secretary general for international affairs, underscored that Sánchez has never been in touch with President Nicolás Maduro while supporting sanctions against his regime.

English version by Susana Urra.

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