In an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has just announced that he will run for US president in the 2020 election, has refused to recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president, having suggested that the US should ensure “free and fair” elections in the Latin American country.
“No. I think what has to happen right now — I think there are serious questions about the recent election. There are many people who feel it was a fraudulent election, and I think the United States has got to work with the international community to make sure that there is a free and fair election in Venezuela”, Sanders said.
When asked whether he believes that Nicolas Maduro is a “dictator” and should step down, Sanders seemingly avoided giving a direct answer to the question:
“I think clearly he has been very, very abusive. That is a decision of the Venezuelan people, so I think, Jorge, there’s got to be a free and fair election”.
Sanders’ reluctance to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president came shortly before the opposition leader issued his “presidential” decree number 001 in order to authorise the deliveries of humanitarian aid currently stockpiled in neighbouring Colombia.
His decision was made despite President Nicolas Maduro’s strong opposition to the deliveries, which he said might be used as a pretext for a foreign intervention in Venezuela.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump called on Venezuelan military officers to not follow orders given by Maduro to block the humanitarian aid deliveries to the country, adding that Washington is seeking a peaceful transition of power in the country but "all options" were on the table.
In the meantime, Maduro said Thursday that he sees a certain connection between Washington's rhetoric against Venezuela and the re-election campaign of Trump.
"Donald Trump has started his pre-election campaign… He's desperate, and so he really liked the idea of attacking Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, and he thinks that, using this rhetoric of Cold War, he will improve [his rating], which in reality could lead to his total collapse", Maduro said in remarks broadcast by a local TV channel.
Tensions have been simmering in Venezuela since mid-January when Guaido declared himself the country’s president, challenging last May’s re-election of Maduro. The United States, Canada, Japan, Israel, a host of Latin American countries and a number of European nations have recognised the opposition leader, while Russia, Turkey, China, Mexico, and many others have voiced their support for Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimately elected president.
Maduro, for his part, has slammed Guaido as a “puppet” of the United States, which he accused of staging a coup d’etat in Venezuela. He also cut diplomatic ties with Washington, although DC has refused to withdraw its personnel from the Latin American country.