Mérida, June 22, 2020 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Juan Guaido’s representative in La Paz has taken over Venezuela’s embassy building with the support of the de facto Bolivian government.
Winston Flores, who was assigned to be Guaido’s “ambassador” to the Andean nation in February, formally re-opened the diplomatic building on Friday with a small ceremony attended by a handful of journalists and a priest. The building has been closed since the November 2019 coup d’état in the country, when it was overrun by far-right hooded activists carrying dynamite.
Flores, who holds diplomatic credentials from the de facto Bolivian government, was a lawmaker in Venezuela before fleeing legal proceedings against him for his role in the foiled military putsch of April 2019.
“Today there is a beam of light between President Guaido and President Anez,” he said at the ceremony, unveiling a large banner affirming Guaido’s alleged “legitimacy.”
The opposition leader’s communications center confirmed the takeover on Friday, adding that several “important” Bolivian figures had attended the ceremony and that the embassy would soon resume its services to the public.
Venezuela’s Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January 2019 and was instantly recognised by Washington and around 25 percent of the world’s governments. Since, he has led unsuccessful efforts to take power through a number of attempted uprisings, and has seen domestic and international support fall. He has also been implicated in a number of corruption, embezzlement and fraud scandals and, most recently, a foreign incursion led by US mercenaries.
After the ousting of Venezuela’s ally Evo Morales in Bolivia last year, Jeanine Anez declared herself “president” and quickly broke with the Maduro government in favour of backing Guaido, expelling all existing diplomatic staff.
While Caracas is yet to comment on the embassy takeover, Bolivian left-wing groups, including the Communist Party, denounced it as an “act of illegal and illegitimate force,” promising that diplomatic relations with Caracas will be promptly restored should Anez be ousted in upcoming elections.
Despite the La Paz takeover, Guaido is facing fierce struggles across the continent in his attempts to achieve distinct diplomatic recognition from the Maduro government.
In Chile, Guaido was left without representation earlier this month after reportedly failing to pay his “ambassador” Guarequena Gutiérrez.
In her public resignation, Gutierrez also claimed to lack “access to the Chilean health system” and the formal employment required to renew her visa, which is reportedly due to expire in July. “I can’t go on like this,” she complained.
Similarly, Guaido’s personnel in Switzerland quit in March, joining his representatives to the Czech Republic and the Inter-American Development Bank, who both resigned in 2019.
In Brazil, efforts to install Guaido’s representative Maria Teresa Belandria have also faltered as a fierce diplomatic standoff has developed, which saw the Bolsonaro government close its Venezuelan embassy and consulates in April.
Last month, the far-right president’s efforts to oust Maduro’s diplomatic team in the country took a blow as a Supreme Court ruling suspended his decree. For its part, Maduro’s team has refused to abandon the embassy.
Venezuela’s embassy building in Brasilia was also at the epicentre of the recent standoff in November, with pro-Bolsonaro activists attempting to “forcefully invade” it, only to be thwarted by local left-wing grassroots organisations.
Likewise, the Caribbean country’s US embassy also remains idle after a struggle to prevent Guaido’s representative Carlros Vecchio from taking it over ended in US police breaking the Vienna Convention and entering the building by force in 2019. Those defending the embassy at the time were arrested and charged with “interfering with police protective functions,” a charge which was later reduced to public disorder.