Mexico backs Maduro as Venezuela president amid crisis

Mexico City (AFP) –


Mexico still backs Nicolas Maduro as Venezuelan president, the government's top spokesman said Wednesday after the head of Venezuela's opposition-controlled legislature declared himself interim president.

"We recognize the authorities elected in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution," Jesus Ramirez, spokesman for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, told AFP.

He later wrote on Twitter that Mexico was "analyzing the situation in Venezuela."

"For the moment, there is no change in our diplomatic relations with the country nor its government," he said.

The United States and several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Colombia and Peru, all announced their backing for Guaido as interim president.

Mexico, the world's largest Spanish-speaking country, has taken a hands-off stance toward Venezuela under Lopez Obrador, a leftist who took office in December and has said his foreign policy is based on the "principle of non-intervention" in other countries' affairs.

Mexico was the only member of the 14-country Lima Group -- which includes several top Latin American powers and Canada -- not to sign a statement on January 4 calling on Maduro to transfer power to the democratically elected legislature, instead of starting a new term six days later.

That marked a major diplomatic shift for Mexico, which had been one of the most outspoken critics of Maduro's socialist government.

Lopez Obrador has fended off criticism over the move, saying: "It's not about (ideological) sympathies. It's about our foreign policy and our foreign-policy principles."

Maduro has presided over a spiraling political and economic crisis in Venezuela since taking over from his mentor, the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, in 2013. He won a new six-year term in May in an election marred by irregularities.