Guaido’s escape from Venezuela undermines Colombian diplomacy
(Bloomberg) — Officials from both countries said the arrival of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in Bogotá on Monday undermines the Colombian government’s efforts to break the political deadlock in its neighbor.
Guaidó has called a protest in Bogota’s main square on Tuesday to demand that Venezuelans abroad be allowed to participate in upcoming elections, just as Colombian President Gustavo Petro ushers in a summit of international leaders two blocks away.
“For the Petroleum Administration, having Guaidó on its soil is a responsibility,” said Jeff Ramsey, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It complicates Bogotá’s strategy of trying to offer a democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela, while maintaining diplomatic relations” with the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
Maduro’s enemy Guaido will not be invited to the summit, according to Colombia’s Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva. Petro is also not expected to welcome the country publicly, according to officials from both countries, who asked not to be named because of domestic politics.
People said that Petro had been aware of Guaidó’s plans to flee to Colombia for about two weeks.
In a meeting on Saturday, the people said Petro told members of the Venezuelan opposition that he hoped their summit would secure the release of political prisoners and set possible dates for next year’s presidential elections.
In return, Maduro’s government wants the United States to ease its sanctions, including allowing the US Treasury Department to allow some foreign oil companies that still have a presence in Venezuela to resume oil production there. Petro, who also maintains cordial relations with US President Joe Biden, has become an unofficial conduit between Caracas and Washington.
Guaido’s decision to leave Venezuela means he may drop his candidacy to run in the opposition primaries later this year, potentially backing another candidate.
Since taking office last year, Petro has become a key ally of Maduro, meeting him four times and restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Although Petro has pledged to grant asylum to Venezuelans, Guaido is considering moving quickly to a third country, possibly the United States, for fear of extradition, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
“He entered (Colombia) inappropriately and in Colombia we abide by the law,” Leiva told reporters on Monday.
A spokesman for Guaido and the United States declined to comment.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court banned Guaido from leaving the country in 2019, shortly after the United States and dozens of its allies recognized him as the nation’s rightful ruler.
While he has circumvented the ban several times in the past, this is the first time he has left the country since he was elected speaker of the opposition National Assembly this year.
“Guaidó no longer has the massive support he received in 2019 and I think he is looking for opportunities to make an impact in the international community,” Ramsey said.
Original note: Guaido’s flight from Venezuela undermines Colombian diplomacy
– In collaboration with Fabiola Zerba, Oscar Medina and Nicole Yabor.
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