Venezuela's Guaido banking on US support even if Trump loses

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido said Friday he is counting on the United States to maintain pressure on President Nicolas Maduro no matter who wins the US' November presidential election.

US President Donald Trump has been a staunch ally of Guaido's and has cranked up the pressure on the Maduro regime with a series of new sanctions.

Guido said Maduro was hoping to "deceive" his entourage into believing that, depending on whether the Republican Trump or his Democratic rival Joe Biden wins the November 3 election, things "could get a little better" for the Venezuelan regime.

"Your problem is not with the White House, your problem is with the Justice Department... you've been accused of drug trafficking and terrorism," Guaido said in an interview with Transparency International, addressing Maduro.

National Assembly speaker Guaido, who heads the only government branch in opposition hands, was responding to a question about whether he feared he would lose US support if Biden is elected.

The Trump administration was the first government to back Guaido's January 2019 claim to be Venezuela's acting president in a challenge to Maduro's authority.

The National Assembly had declared Maduro a "usurper" over his 2018 re-election in a poll widely derided as fraudulent.

Following the US, more than 50 other countries also backed Guaido.

The US has also accused Maduro of "narcoterrorism" and placed a $15 million bounty on his head.

"I have to deeply thank the administration of President Trump" for "supporting the Venezuelan cause," said Guaido.

Venezuela is also gearing up for elections in December to vote in a new legislature.

But Guaido is leading a boycott by the main opposition parties after the regime-backed Supreme Court appointed new election authorities -- a role that should be fulfilled by parliament.

However, the court has overruled the decision to boycott and handed control of the rebel political groups to Guaido's opponents.

The US has already said it will not recognize the results of the parliamentary elections, while the European Union has called for them to be postponed until a "transparent" process can be organized.