January 24, 2019 / 12:30 PM / a month ago

Guaido vs Maduro: Who backs Venezuela's two presidents?

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition has raised the stakes against President Nicolas Maduro after congress head Juan Guaido swore himself in as interim head of state with the support of the United States and some major Latin American nations.

Below is a summary of support for the rival leaders.

MADURO

* The top brass of Venezuela’s military has shown no sign of leaving Maduro’s side. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino reaffirmed his support in a Tweet on Wednesday, saying Venezuela’s armed forces disavowed any self-proclaimed president.

* The Supreme Court, stacked with Maduro loyalists, has remained solidly behind the socialist leader, ruling earlier this week that all actions taken by the congress - led by Guaido - are null and void.

* Russia called Maduro the country’s legitimate president and accused the United States of trying to usurp power in Venezuela, warning Washington against military intervention.

* President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey stood by Maduro, urging him to “stand tall”, Erdogan’s spokesman said.

* China voiced support for Maduro, saying it opposed outside interference in Venezuela and backed efforts to protect its independence and stability.

* State oil company PDVSA, which accounts for most of Venezuela’s export earnings, stood by Maduro. “We have no other president” besides Maduro, said PDVSA President and Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo, a career military officer.

* A few left-leaning governments in the region, including Cuba and Bolivia, continue to back Maduro. Mexico, where leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office last year, has dropped the previous government’s opposition to Maduro and said it will follow a policy of non-intervention.

* A diehard core of “Chavistas” in Venezuela, including armed gangs in poor urban areas, remain core to late leader Hugo Chavez’s exhortation to support Maduro come what may.

GUAIDO

* The United States recognized Guaido shortly after he proclaimed himself president, saying it would use its “economic and diplomatic power” to restore democracy in Venezuela.

* Numerous right-leaning Latin American governments, including Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, also recognized Guaido.

* The European Union’s executive called for new elections but declined to explicitly recognise Guaido as president. An EU statement urged authorities to respect his “civil rights, freedom and safety” and allow Venezuelans to freely determine their future.

* French President Emmanuel Macron saluted the courage of Venezuelans marching for freedom and called Maduro’s 2018 election victory illegal.

* A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said Maduro’s election was neither free nor fair, and expressed support for Guaido as national assembly head.

* The German government said Venezuela’s parliament had “a special role” to play in securing Venezuela’s “free future”.

* There are some signs that support for the opposition is expanding beyond its traditional middle- and upper-class areas. Several protests against Maduro have broken out in working-class neighborhoods and slums this week.

* Some low-ranking military officers have expressed discontent with the government. The government on Monday said it suppressed a military revolt after a group of officers stole weapons, kidnapped officers, and demanded Maduro’s removal.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Luc Cohen, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien, John Stonestreet and Andrew Cawthorne

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