Diplomacy and legitimacy: Juan Guaidó’s international placement strategy
7 junio 2019

As part of a political dispute whose end is not yet in sight, the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, has played the diplomacy card as a key strategy for the internal and external legitimization of his claim for the presidency. In this new section we analyze how this is unfolding, against a background of ruptured diplomatic relations and the closure of embassies in different parts of the world.

1. Visits to countries in the region. Less than a month after his self-proclamation as interim president, Guaidó visited Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador. He met with the presidents of those countries and sought their political and economic support. The most important meeting to take place so far, however, has not been one involving Guaidó but rather his wife, Fabiana Rosales, who spoke with Donald Trump in Washington on March 27 .

2. Appointment of diplomatic representatives. Juan Guaidó has also sought to consolidate international ties through the appointment of ambassadors. So far, twelve countries in the region have accepted his diplomatic nominees: Colombia, the United States, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica. The Organization of American States (OAS) also accepted the delegate appointed by Guaidó. Some of these representatives have held meetings with heads of state, while in the United States they have made efforts to work through the State Department to remedy the lack of consular services.

3. Participation in OAS. On April 27, the Venezuelan State headed by Nicolás Maduro formalized its exit from OAS, the expiration period of 24 months having elapsed from the date of the presentation of the country’s withdrawal letter. However, the Assembly’s acceptance of Guaidó’s ambassador-designate, Gustavo Tarre, on April 9 by 18 votes to 9, and 6 abstentions, will allow the country to maintain its representation in the regional organization.

4. Approval of international treaties. The reincorporation of Venezuela on the regional scene is also playing out through the National Assembly’s efforts to enter into international treaties.  Most notably, these include the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which establishes the diplomatic and military cooperation of the countries of the continent against intra- and extra-regional aggressions, and the American Convention on Human Rights, which among other things recognizes the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  Maduro had decided to withdraw Venezuela from both treaties in 2013.

5. Recognition of multilateral credit organizations. Guaidó has also sought the recognition of credit agencies. This is in line with one of the priorities of his plan of government (Plan Pais – see below) which is to widen access to multilateral banking, with the goal of accessing an international aid program of USD 60 to 80 billion within five years.  The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been more conservative on the prospect of reaching these figures.

6. International presentation of “Plan País”. In April, the diplomatic representatives designated by Guaidó began the presentation of their government plan in different countries and organizations  with the objective of gathering support and financing, both multilateral and private, to implement the lines of action proposed in an eventual new administration.  An international coordinator of the “Plan País” was also appointed.

Through these strategies, the goal is to legitimize Juan Guaidó’s presidential claim and build a network of external alliances to secure the prior political and economic support that a new government will require.  However, despite the international recognition achieved and the tightening of economic sanctions, these moves have yet to be decisive in his political struggle with an administration also backed by sections of the international community. Guaidó’s paradiplomacy does not cease to pose unprecedented institutional challenges to organizations such as the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank which, that being said, have fully recognized the existence of the humanitarian emergency.

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