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Guaido suffers major defeat as more than half of OAS members vote to expel his envoy

VENEZUELA’s opposition suffered a defeat on Thursday night as 19 members of the Organisation of American States (OAS) backed a proposal to remove its envoy for political and economic issues.

Although the proposal failed to get the two-thirds majority, or 24 votes, needed to be put on the agenda of the OAS general assembly being held in Lima, Peru, it was a blow for opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

More than half of the organisation’s 35 members voted for the resolution and many others abstained, signalling a growing lack of support in the region for the faction of Venezuela’s opposition led by Juan Guaido. Only four states stood with Mr Guaido’s envoy.

The resolution, drafted by Antigua and Barbuda, would have stripped recognition of Gustavo Tarre as Venezuela’s permanent representative at the regional forum on the grounds that Mr Guaido is not a head of state.

Following Mr Maduro’s victory at the 2018 presidential election, which the US and its allies rejected, Mr Guaido, then head of Venezuela's National Assembly, declared himself the head of an “interim government.”  

At the time, a majority of OAS members voted to give Venezuela’s seat to a representative picked by the National Assembly, which was then controlled by the opposition.

But support for Mr Guaido has dwindled as his efforts to remove Mr Maduro through protests, international sanctions, a military coup and negotiations failed.

Some nations have recently decided that they can gain more from re-establishing ties with Venezuela’s real government.

On Thursday, countries that once supported Mr Guaido and voted to remove his envoy included Colombia, Honduras, Chile, Argentina and Peru, all with left-of-centre governments. Brazil and Ecuador, which have conservative leaders, abstained.

Mr Guaido’s envoy received the support of only Canada, the United States, Guatemala and Paraguay.

Colombia was once a key ally of Mr Guaido, but it recently elected a leftist president, Gustavo Petro. He is seeking Mr Maduro’s support in peace talks with Colombia’s largest remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Army, known as the ELN, which also operates in Venezuela.

“The Colombian government has prioritised restoring ties (with Maduro) given the vast economic potential of gaining access to the Venezuelan market,” Mr De Alba said. “Moreover, Petro needs Maduro’s support for a successful negotiation with the ELN.”

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