Venezuela rivals congratulate Biden on victory

Caracas (AFP) –


Venezuela's political rivals Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido on Saturday both congratulated Joe Biden on his victory in the US presidential election.

President Maduro, whose regime was hit with multiple new sanctions by the Donald Trump administration, wrote on Twitter that "Venezuela ... will always be ready for dialogue and understanding with the people and government of the US."

Opposition leader Guaido, who received early support from Trump in his bid to oust Maduro before that help waned, said he and Biden would "work together to secure the restoration of democracy, freedom and human rights to the Venezuelan people."

Under President Trump, Washington was one of the first of around 60 countries to back Guaido's January 2019 claim to be Venezuela's acting president.

But the Venezuelan military maintained its support for Maduro and Guaido's early momentum ground to a halt.

He faces a challenge to hang onto his position as assembly speaker with legislative elections due next month.

Guaido and the main opposition parties have vowed to boycott the poll but election authorities say it will go ahead.

Elsewhere, Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez and Peru's Martin Vizcarra were other South American leaders to congratulate Biden.

Fernandez also pointed to Kamala Harris making history as the "this country's first woman vice-president."

Former Bolivia president Evo Morales took to Twitter to celebrate Trump's defeat rather than Biden's victory.

Relations between Washington and La Paz were frosty under Morales's near 14-year reign.

The United States has not had an ambassador to Bolivia since former coca leaf growers union leader Morales kicked the last one out in 2008 after accusing Washington of fomenting anti-government protests.

"Trump's electoral defeat is a defeat for racist and fascist policies," Morales wrote on Twitter.

Under Morales, Bolivia was a close ally to fellow leftist regimes in Venezuela and Cuba, both of which suffered toughening US sanctions under Trump.

"His interventionist practices have been defeated, as have his inhumane attacks against Mother Earth," Morales added in reference to Trump withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord.