Brazil withdraws diplomatic invite to Venezuelan opposition envoy

Venezuelan opposition representative Maria Teresa Belandria, who was received as her country’s official ambassador to Brazil, attends a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil February 11, 2019. — Reuters pic
Venezuelan opposition representative Maria Teresa Belandria, who was received as her country’s official ambassador to Brazil, attends a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil February 11, 2019. — Reuters pic

BRASILIA, May 31 — Brazil’s government withdrew an invitation to an official ceremony sent to the envoy for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guiadó, she said today, playing down the idea that it showed scepticism from President Jair Bolsonaro’s ex-military advisers.

The former generals making up nearly a third of Bolsonaro’s cabinet have been wary of provoking Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, warning against moves that could tip an economic and political crisis into violence across Brazil’s northern border.

Guiadó’s envoy, Maria Teresa Belandria, dismissed the suggestion that her absence from the ceremony with other ambassadors to Brasilia reflected more tenuous support.

“There will be another opportunity,” she told Reuters. “Brazil’s support continues to be strong, solid and decisive. It’s a merely technical matter.”

Brazil’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brazilian newspapers Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo reported that Bolsonaro’s government had cancelled her invitation because ex-military aides want to pursue dialogue with Maduro, who also has an official representative in Brasilia.

Guiadó invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to assume the interim presidency, saying Maduro’s reelection was not legitimate. Most Western countries have since backed him as head of state.

While the Brazilian government granted diplomatic credentials to Belandria, it has not revoked the credentials of Maduro’s representatives.

Venezuela recently reopened its border crossing to Brazil after a nearly three-month closure, and Bolsonaro’s aides are working to restore more regular power supply for the Brazilian state of Roraima, which depends on the Venezuelan grid.

Bolsonaro, like many heads of state in the region, has been sharply critical of the Maduro government, and advisers to US President Donald Trump have pressed him to take a harder line.

His top security adviser, retired General Augusto Heleno, told Reuters two weeks ago that Venezuela’s armed forces will decide Maduro’s future and could depose him to lead a transition to democratic elections. — Reuters

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