BRUSSELS, Belgium, Thursday January 31 2019 – European leaders today voted overwhelmingly to recognize Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido as de facto head of state.
At a special session in Brussels, politicians in the European Parliament voted 429 in favour to 104 against, with 88 abstentions.
The vote is non-binding, but the parliament urged the bloc’s 28 governments to consider Guaido “the only legitimate interim president” until there are “new free, transparent and credible presidential elections”.
They join the United States, Canada and Mexico in supporting Guaido—who declared himself interim president last Wednesday—and pressing for President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for a second consecutive term earlier this month, to step down.
Britain, France, Germany and Spain said last Saturday that they would recognize Guaido unless Maduro called elections within eight days.
Guaido said the recognition by the European Parliament represented a “great step” towards the fight for democracy in Venezuela.
“We have taken a big step in our struggle for democracy!” he tweeted.
“We appreciate the decision [taken by] the European Parliament [it] recognize[s] all the effort that we Venezuelans have put forward for the restitution of constitutional order in our country.”
¡Hemos dado un gran paso en nuestra lucha por la democracia!
Agradecemos la decisión del Parlamento Europeo de reconocer todo el esfuerzo que hemos llevado adelante los venezolanos por la restitución del orden constitucional en nuestro país.#EuropaConVenezuela #VamosBien pic.twitter.com/tTOO7kKvuk
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) January 31, 2019
The show of support from European leaders follows moves against Guaido within Venezuela.
On the heels of the US saying it had handed control of Venezuela’s US bank accounts to Guaidó, the Supreme Court, which is aligned to Maduro, put a travel ban on him and froze his bank accounts.
Chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab who requested the action be taken, said a criminal probe into the opposition leader’s anti-government activities has been launched.
Guaido is prohibited from leaving the country until a preliminary investigation is complete.