Venezuelan ambassador respects Portugal, despite recognition of Guaidó

  • Lusa
  • 25 February 2019

Portugal recognised Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela. The ambassador of that country to Portugal says "Guaidó is no president" for him, but says he maintains good relations with Portugal.

Venezuela’s ambassador to Portugal, Lucas Rincón, has said that Juan Guaidó, the country’s self-proclaimed interim head of state, “is no president”, and that he himself “respects” and has “good relationship” with Portugal’s government.

Portugal is among several European Union member states that have recognised Guaidó as interim president, charged with organising fresh presidential elections.

“Guaidó is no president for me; we have only one president, who won with more than 6,248,000 votes,” said Rincón, in a reference to the last, disputed, presidential elections. “Mr. Guaidó, how many votes did you have? When did you run for president? What elections?

“He was elected, with about ninety thousand votes, to be a deputy for a constituency, in which he came second,” said Rincón in comments to Lusa after he was asked about the fact that Guaidó had appointed another ambassador to Portugal.

Rincón was taking part in the initiative in Lisbon in support of the government led by Nicolás Maduro.

“Our legitimate president is Nicolás Maduro, who won with more than 67%,” siad Rincón. “There’s nothing to discuss. He [Guaidó] can talk, talk, talk … He doesn’t own anything; he’s president of what?”

The ambassador refused to talk about the stance taken by Portugal’s government, saying only that he maintains good relations with it.

“I don’t want to talk about Portugal’s internal policy, because I’m respectful,” he said “I can say that I respect the internal affairs of Portugal and any other country. I respect all that comes from the government.

“I have a very good relationship with the government and … and I have a lot of appreciation, affection and respect for the minister of foreign affairs,” he said.

The initiative in which Rincón was taking part, which was attended by several hundred people, was organised by several different groups. It was addressed by Ilda Figueiredo, president of the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation, Augusto Praça, a member of the executive committee of the CGTP trade union federation, and by Mercedes Martinez, Cuba’s ambassador to Portugal, as well as Rincón.

Guaidó on Tuesday named José Rafael Cotte as Venezuela’s new ambassador of in Lisbon.

Portugal’s government is awaiting a decision by Venezuela’s parliament to formally communicate its intention to replace its diplomatic representative in Portugal before acting, according to its foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva.

The political crisis in Venezuela sharpened on 23 January, when Guaidó, the speaker of parliament, proclaimed himself interim president, taking over from Maduro.

Guaidó, 35, was immediately backed by the US. He pledged to form a transitional government and organise free elections.

Maduro, 56, has been in power since 2013. He dismissed Guaidó’s move as part of an attempted coup led by the US.