Italy to host Venezuela delegation at Guaido’s request

Agence France-Presse
Matteo Salvini says he will meet the team on Monday, February 11, after Juan Guaido sends a letter requesting talks 'as soon as possible' to present 'the action plan to relaunch democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections'

DELEGATION TO ITALY. Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido arrives at the Federal Legislative Palace in Caracas, on February 4, 2019. Photo by Yuri Cortez/AFP

ROME, Italy – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is to send a delegation to Italy, where the government is one of few European Union countries not to have backed the self-proclaimed interim president.

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he will meet the team on Monday after Guaido sent a letter requesting talks “as soon as possible” to present “the action plan to relaunch democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections.”

Britain, France, Germany and Spain are among 20 EU nations to side with Guaido this week after President Nicolas Maduro ignored their demands that he announce new presidential elections by February 3.

But an attempt to muscle up the bloc’s common position was vetoed by Italy, with the coalition government in Rome divided over how to handle the Venezuela crisis.

Salvini, who heads the anti-migrant League party, has called for fresh elections in Venezuela “because all communist regimes must be wiped from the earth”.

But coalition partner the Five Star Movement (M5S) has been reluctant to throw its weight behind Guaido.

“The amount of democracy people try to export to a country is always directly proportional to how much oil there is there… one has to be strong to remain neutral,” said senior M5S member Alessandro Di Battisti.

Guaido also sent a request for talks to M5S leader Luigi Di Maio but he did not immediately respond.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday called on Italy to show “responsibility” and “clarity on a common position with our European Union allies and partners.” –