Guaido supporters end standoff at Venezuela embassy in Brazil — official

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) – Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido exited the country's embassy in Brazil on Wednesday, an official said, ending a standoff with rival backers of President Nicolas Maduro.

An advisor to Guaido's appointed ambassador Teresa Belandria confirmed to AFP that the supporters had left, hours after the struggle for control of the diplomatic compound began.

Military police had surrounded the embassy in Brasilia as President Jair Bolsonaro met China's President Xi Jinping at the nearby foreign ministry, ahead of a BRICS summit of major emerging economies.

It was not immediately clear why Guaido's supporters left the embassy. A Brazilian foreign ministry representative had been inside for most of the day in an attempt to end the stand-off.

Belandria said earlier in a statement that staff members at the embassy "voluntarily" opened its doors Wednesday to officials working for her.

Hundreds of people had gathered outside, many of them supporters of Brazil's left-wing Workers Party (PT), yelling "Viva Maduro," "Drug dealer Guaido" and "Free Lula," the Brazilian leftist icon was released from jail on Friday.

Police detained two people after scuffles broke out between Guaido and Maduro supporters.

The last Maduro-appointed ambassador to Brazil was withdrawn in 2016.

In her statement, Belandria asked that all accredited officials at the embassy and Venezuela's seven consulates in Brazil recognise Guaido as the legitimate president.

More than 50 countries, including Brazil, recognised the Venezuelan opposition leader as acting president earlier this year after rejecting Maduro's re-election as fraudulent.

BRICS titans China and Russia, however, back Maduro.

"Upon entering the headquarters, we could verify that a group of officials was living in the official residence," said Belandria, who is not inside the embassy.

Freddy Menegotti, a senior embassy official loyal to Maduro, said earlier that "strangers to our facilities are entering and are violating the Venezuelan territory," according to a voice recording sent to the PT and shared with AFP.

"We need help, we need the immediate activation of all social movements and political parties," Menegotti said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza condemned what he described as an invasion of the embassy.

"We hold the Government of Brazil responsible for the safety of our staff and facilities," Arreaza tweeted.

"It is a delicate situation," said Paulo Pimenta, a member of PT, in a voice recording sent to AFP via WhatsApp.

Pimenta said he was among 10 Brazilians to enter the embassy in the morning.

Hours after the confrontation began, Bolsonaro tweeted: "We reject the interference of external actors. We are taking the necessary steps to safeguard public order and prevent acts of violence."

Venezuela's economy has been devastated by a political and economic crisis that has forced millions to flee, many of them into neighbouring Brazil.


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