Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his government have pledged to act for a regime change in Venezuela ahead of opponents of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro whom they received Thursday in Brasilia.
Increasing its pressure on the power of Nicolas Maduro, the Brazilian far-right president has received at the palace of Planalto Miguel Angel Martin, president of the Supreme Court of Justice in exile, a parallel body appointed by the Venezuelan National Assembly, the only institution controlled by the opposition in Caracas.
“We will do everything to ensure that democracy is restored in Venezuela and that you [Venezuelans] can live in freedom,” Bolsonaro said in a short video broadcast after the meeting.
“I think the solution will come quickly,” he said.
A representative of the Organization of American States, Gustavo Cinosi, adviser to OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, participated in the meeting, as well as Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.
Meanwhile, Araujo received for most of the day other representatives of the Venezuelan opposition, including Julio Borges, former Speaker of the National Assembly, currently in exile in Colombia, and Antonio Ledezma, former Mayor of Caracas, who has been living in Madrid since he fled Venezuela in 2017 while under house arrest.
Also present during these talks, which took place in the ministry of Mr. Araujo, diplomats of the American Embassy, and representatives of the Lima Group, formed by 14 countries of the American continent including Brazil.
These countries regard as illegitimate President Maduro, invested on January 10 for a second term following a presidential election considered fraudulent by the opposition and many foreign countries.
This new mandate, which runs from 2019 to 2025, is not recognized by the United States, the European Union or the Lima Group.
– “Interim Presidency” –
Brazil is ready to recognize an “interim presidency” of Venezuela that would be provided by Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly, said in a statement the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of the discussions.
“Brazil will do everything to help the Venezuelan people begin to live in freedom and overcome the humanitarian catastrophe they are currently experiencing,” the ministry said.
Venezuela has been experiencing a serious economic crisis for several years, in addition to the political crisis. Faced with food and drug shortages and hyperinflation, many Venezuelans have left their country.
Juan Guaido said he was ready to lead a transitional government that would call new elections, saying the constitution empowers him to do so because of the opposition’s lack of legitimate power in Venezuela.
Opponents received at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry thanked President Bolsonaro for his commitment against Nicolas Maduro and wished him to formally recognize Juan Guaido as legitimate president of Venezuela so that he can call free elections.
“We are asking not only that we recognize the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice in exile, but also that we consider that Juan Guaido is the temporary constitutional president of Venezuela,” said Ledezma.
– Request for sanctions –
The former mayor of Caracas has also asked the countries of the region to adopt new sanctions against officials belonging to what he called “madurist camarilla”.
Mr Borges also called for new sanctions, calling for action against “money laundering, corruption and human rights violations” which the Venezuelan authorities are guilty of, according to the opposition.
Asked about the idea of a foreign military intervention against the regime of Nicolas Maduro, Borges said that the opposition has always preferred “the way of pressure and sanctions” and said it is Mr. Maduro himself who had opted for “the path of violence”.
A wave of protests against power between April and August 2017 had killed 125 people.
For his part, Mr. Maduro, who on Monday treated Mr. Bolsonaro as “Hitler of modern times”, regularly denounces a desire to overthrow him by violence.
According to him, the United States is coordinating a plot to provoke armed incidents on Venezuela’s borders with Colombia and Brazil, two countries whose governments are hostile to him, in order to justify a military intervention.