January 24, 2019 4:00 pm
Updated: January 25, 2019 12:07 am

Maduro vs Guaido: Venezuela is split between leaders and the world is taking sides

WATCH: Venezuelan's top military officials made a nationwide address in a show of support for embattled President Nicolas Maduro. It comes in the midst of nationwide protests in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido who declared himself president under Venezuelan law. As Eric Sorensen reports, support is growing for Guaido.


As the power struggle in Venezuela persists, countries around the world are starting to take sides on who is leading the country: President Nicolas Maduro or opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Maduro had been sworn in for a second term two weeks earlier, and many, including Guaido, said he had won by illegitimate means in an election where major opposition parties were barred from participating.

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READ MORE: Here’s what is happening in Venezuela — and how Canada is involved

After days of violent protests against Maduro, Guaido declared himself Venezuela’s interim president Wednesday with the support of many nations around the region.

But the opposition leader faces an uphill battle, as he does not have control over vital state institutions and armed forces have disclaimed him. Military commanders have so far promised to stick with socialist Maduro.

He does, however, have the backing of major Western nations, who are calling Maduro’s presidency unconstitutional and fraudulent. Here is a list of who is backing Maduro and who is supporting Guaido.

Who supports Maduro?

Bolivia: Bolivia’s left-wing president, Evo Morales, tweeted his support for Maduro Wednesday night, saying, “Our solidarity with the Venezuelan people and our brother Nicolas Maduro,” and “Never again will we be in the USA’s backyard.”

Cuba: Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel also took to Twitter Wednesday, voicing his support for the socialist leader.

Cuba is Venezuela’s closest ally. Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves, exchanges crude for Cuban medical and other technical services, though deliveries have dropped in recent years during the economic implosion in the country.

Russia: Russia has voiced its support for Maduro and on Thursday accused the U.S. of trying to usurp power in Venezuela and warned against military intervention.

The Kremlin has been heavily invested in Venezuela‘s oil industry. In fact, Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer and one of the largest globally, operates in the country.

READ MORE: Canada to host international meeting on Venezuela turmoil, source says

Russia has helped the Latin American nation’s military by providing planes, tanks and other equipment. The Kremlin has also exported hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wheat to Venezuela.

WATCH: Trump says ‘all options on the table’ for Venezuela amid protests in country

The Kremlin has also offered a lot of financial support, especially during recent economic hardships in Caracas. For example, in Nov. 2017, Russia agreed to restructure Venezuelan sovereign debt of $3.15 billion, with repayments lasting 10 years, according to Reuters.

Turkey: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also offered support for Maduro.

“My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter, quoting Erdogan. Many Turks also voiced support for Maduro on social media using the hashtag, #WeAreMaduro.

READ MORE: Venezuelan president Maduro dines at ‘Salt Bae’ restaurant in Turkey, stirs up outrage

Economic and political ties between Turkey and Caracas have grown stronger, with Erdogan criticizing sanctions against Venezuela during a visit there last month.

Iran: Iran has long been an ally of Maduro.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said the “Islamic Republic of Iran supports the government and people of Venezuela against any sort of foreign intervention and any illegitimate and illegal action such as attempt to make a coup d’etat.”

Iran also condemned any intervention in Venezuela by the U.S.

WATCH: Venezuela turmoil send asylum seekers fleeing to nearby countries

China: China said it supports efforts to protect Venezuela‘s independence and stability and called on the U.S. to stay out of the nation’s political crisis.

Beijing is Venezuela’s top financial lender. Over the last decade, China has given Venezuela $65 billion in loans, cash and investment. Venezuela owes more than $20 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Syria: Syria has condemned what it describes as “flagrant intervention” by the U.S. in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Maduro is a strong ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Maduro visited Syria as foreign minister in 2011, months after the Arab country’s conflict began. Assad visited Venezuela in 2010.

WATCH: Maduro wins re-election in Venezuela amid outcry over vote

Who supports Guaido?

Canada: On Wednesday, Canada said it recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president. Canada had previously denounced Maduro’s presidency as illegitimate.

READ MORE: Canada slams Venezuela’s Maduro’s 2nd term as ‘illegitimate’ as he is sworn in

“Having seized power through fraudulent and anti-democratic elections held on May 20, 2018, the Maduro regime is now fully entrenched as a dictatorship,” Freeland said in a previous statement. “The suffering of Venezuelans will only worsen should he continue to illegitimately cling to power.”

The United States: The U.S. recognized Guaido shortly after he proclaimed himself president Wednesday, saying it would use its “economic and diplomatic power” to restore democracy in Venezuela.

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement calling Maduro “illegitimate.”

WATCH: Trump backs Maduro rival amid protests in Venezuela

Britain: Britain’s foreign secretary said Thursday that Guaido is “the right person” to take the troubled country forward.

Jeremy Hunt said the Venezuelan election was “deeply flawed” and said the regime led by Maduro has done “untold damage to the people of Venezuela.”

Hunt said it is clear that Maduro is not the “legitimate” leader of Venezuela, but he stopped short of recognizing Guaido as president.

READ MORE: Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro digs in for a fight with U.S. over presidential claim

European Union: On Thursday, the EU called for the launch of a political process in Venezuela that would lead to fresh elections.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherni said, “the EU strongly calls for the start of an immediate political process leading to free and credible elections,” and also called for the safety and rights of lawmakers and Guaido to be protected.

Latin America: As of Thursday, 11 Latin American countries voiced their support for Guaido, which included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.

These countries are most of the members of the Lima Group, a regional bloc of the Americas (which Canada is also a part of), and are pushing for democratic reforms in Venezuela.

WATCH: Chilean president says Chile, Lima Group recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president

Paraguay was the first regional country to express support after Guaido took an oath before thousands of supporters.

“Count on us to embrace freedom and democracy again,” Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez said on Twitter.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Latin America’s largest nation also would support Guaido, “so that peace and democracy return to Venezuela.”

Who remains silent?

Mexico: On Wednesday, the Mexican government said on Twitter it would not take sides, citing “our constitutional principles of non-intervention, auto-determination, and peaceful solutions to international conflicts.”

Uruguay, Guyana and Santa Lucia have also decided not to intervene, according to Al Jezzera.

— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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