As confusion continues over who is the legitimate leader of Venezuela, U.S. envoy to the country Elliot Abrams told reporters on Wednesday he is concerned for the safety of Juan Guaido, the country’s “self-proclaimed interim president.” The Trump White House has been a vocal supporter of Guaido ever since he announced his claim to the interim-presidency, and several other allied nations in the region are also backing him. However, China, Russia, and Iran have come out publicly in support of the country’s current ruler, Nicolas Maduro.
“The security of interim President Guaido is a concern,” said Abrams while speaking to the press, according to Reuters. “The regime has not acted against him in some time and I hope that is because they recognize that he has the support of the vast majority of Venezuelans and that would be an extremely foolish move for the regime to make.”
The Maduro regime has a long history of suspected human rights abuses. Both the United Nations and groups such as Human Rights Watch have reported incidents of murder, wrongful imprisonment, and torture perpetrated by Venezuelan security forces. So far, Maduro is using a hands-off policy regarding Guaido, but with international support pouring in, some fear he may become emboldened to take action against political rivals.
“I am ready to sit down at the negotiating table with the opposition so that we could talk for the good of Venezuela,” Maduro said while speaking to reporters from RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-controlled media outlet, according to the BBC.