Juan Guaido gestures while speaking during a press conference at the Morichal Park, the day after regional and municipal elections in Caracas, on Nov. 22, 2021.

Juan Guaido gestures while speaking during a press conference at the Morichal Park, the day after regional and municipal elections in Caracas, on Nov. 22, 2021. (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

(Tribune News Service) — Venezuela’s opposition voted to end Juan Guaidó’s so-called interim government, four years after the United States and dozens of other countries lined up behind him in an attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

The opposition-led National Assembly by a 72-24 margin with nine abstentions on Thursday voted against renewing Guaido’s mandate for another year. A second and definitive vote is to be held Dec. 29, and if he loses that ballot his term would end Jan. 5.

Lawmakers signaled they were tired of a strategy that failed to remove Maduro despite broad international support and pressure on the government. The vote represents not only a political failure for the increasingly unpopular Guaidó but also for the fractured opposition that has made no headway in unseating Maduro.

“Maduro is the only one winning today by dividing the opposition,” Guaidó said during the assembly’s session in which 105 lawmakers voted one by one.

Guaidó became the face of the opposition’s movement to foster regime change in January 2019 when he proclaimed he was the rightful leader of the country as Maduro won reelection by rigging the vote a year earlier. The Trump administration and dozens of other governments lined up behind Guaidó in an attempt to exert pressure on Maduro.

But the strategy has failed. Guaidó never wielded any real power in Venezuela and lost the backing of all but a few foreign governments, with some European countries dropping their recognition and newly elected leftist leaders in Latin America moving to re-establish ties with Maduro.

At home, his approval rating has fallen from 61.2% by February 2019 to 15.5% in November, according to surveys by Caracas-based Datanalisis.

“Juan Guaidó has made a great effort but he must be aware that it has not been enough,” lawmaker Nora Bracho said while presenting the other parties’ proposal. “We have had a scheme that has not been satisfactory for the Venezuelan people.”

If that alternative proposal passes on a second vote, only the opposition-led National Assembly would continue its rule during 2023, through a committee of lawmakers, and they’ll establish a five-member council to manage and protect assets abroad, including Citgo Petroleum Corp. and the gold stored at the Bank of England.

The proposal is “nothing less than a parliamentary coup” that pretends to violate the principle of the separation of power by the Assembly assuming executive powers, said lawmaker Sergio Garrido, while presenting Guaidó’s proposal.

A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. recognizes interim President Juan Guaidó and that they couldn’t speculate on future events.

Guaidó has said that his mandate should continue until new presidential elections are held, currently expected to happen in 2024.

Fabiola Zerpa contributed to this story.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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