Who backs whom in Venezuela crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela – World powers are taking sides in the deadly struggle to lead Venezuela, which has pitted some Western nations against Russia, China and others.

Inside the country, opposition figurehead Juan Guaido, 35, is vying to lure military commanders to switch their allegiance to him away from President Nicolas Maduro, 56.

Here is a summary of whom key players are backing, after Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23 in defiance of the leftist Maduro.

Military: Maduro through his allies controls most of Venezuela's main state institutions – most importantly the military.

Senior officers have reaffirmed support for him, though there have been signs of wavering. A senior air force general recognized Guaido as president on February 2.

China: Venezuela's biggest creditor, with some $20 billion dollars owed, says it opposes "external interference" by those who have recognized Guaido as leader.

Russia: Venezuela's number two creditor also backs it militarily: In December, Moscow sent two bombers and some 100 officers to Caracas for joint exercises. President Vladimir Putin has also accused the US and its allies of "interference."

Other allies: Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Mexico, North Korea, Turkey and Uruguay back Maduro as leader.

United States: US President Donald Trump quickly recognized Guaido after he proclaimed himself acting president. Trump said on Sunday, February 3, that the US army's intervention in Venezuela was "an option."

Central and South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru followed, as did the head of the Organization of American States, Uruguayan Luis Almagro.

European powers:  Austria, Britain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden recognized Guaido on Monday, February 4. The European Parliament has called on all EU countries to do so.

Australia, Canada and Israel are among other countries to recognize him.

Legislature: Inside Venezuela, Maduro's opponents control just one major state body: the National Assembly, whose powers Maduro's rival National Constituent Assembly seized in 2017.

Italy does not recognize the result of Venezuela's presidential election last May, which Maduro won, and wants new elections as soon as possible, Italy's foreign minister told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

Belgium's deputy prime minister Didier Reynders said it supported Guaido's "mission to organize free and transparent elections," but stopped short of endorsing him as acting president.

Greece's left-wing government declined to join other EU states in overtly backing Guaido and called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was available to facilitate negotiations between the rival sides in Venezuela. – Rappler.com