By Cassandra Garrison and Walter Bianchi
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – In a blow to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, Argentina’s government said on Tuesday it did not recognize him as his nation’s interim president and had revoked the credentials of his representative in Buenos Aires.
The new administration of Argentina’s center-left President Alberto Fernandez sent a letter to Elisa Trotta Gamus, who represented Guaido in Argentina, to notify her that her “special mission” in Argentina had been terminated.
In April, diplomatic credentials were delivered to Trotta by the Argentine Foreign Ministry under right-leaning former President Mauricio Macri. Argentina, which already had a diplomatic mission from the government of President Nicolas Maduro, recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president last year.
“She was under the special mission format that the previous administration had given her, not as a formal ambassador of Venezuela. We do not recognize Guaido as president, but as a leader of the opposition, and based on that, we consider that there is no special representation mission,” a spokesman for the Argentine Foreign Ministry said.
Trotta, in a statement shared with Reuters, said she hoped Argentina would continue to denounce human rights violations in Venezuela.
“We respect the sovereign decisions of Argentina. We are open to all kinds of conversations and dialogues that may arise with the Argentine Government with the objective of contributing to the recovery of democracy in Venezuela,” the statement said.
Guaido was elected head of the congress in January 2019 and invoked Venezuela’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, denouncing Maduro as a usurper who had secured re-election in a 2018 vote widely considered fraudulent. The U.S.-backed opposition leader has been recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader but has struggled to maintain support as Maduro fends off his challenge.
Fernandez, who took office on Dec. 10, has been cautious with his stance over the Maduro government though he has emphasized ties with other leftist politicians in the region including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Bolivia’s unseated leader, Evo Morales, and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
His vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was close with Maduro at the end of her 2007-2015 twin terms.
(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Walter Bianchi; Editing by Tom Brown)