Palestinian official slams US over its support for Venezuelan opposition leader

PA blasts ‘intervention’ in South American country’s affairs; Ramallah protesters gather in support of embattled President Maduro

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

People cheer as they listen to Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on January 23, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP)
People cheer as they listen to Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on January 23, 2019. (Federico Parra/AFP)

A high-ranking Palestine Liberation Organization official lashed out at the Trump administration on Thursday for supporting a Venezuelan opposition leader who has declared himself interim president of the South American country.

“The barefaced American intervention in the affairs of countries, as is happening in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is an extension of the Trump administration’s policy of denying the will of peoples,” PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani said in comments published on the official PA news site Wafa.

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he recognizes Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the interim president of the Latin American nation. Earlier in the day in front of masses of anti-government demonstrators, Guaido declared himself interim president.

“The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate [President Nicolas] Maduro regime,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to the Venezuelan head of state who has ruled the country since 2013. “Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

Shortly thereafter, President Maduro announced he was breaking off diplomatic and political ties with the US.

PLO official Ahmad Majdalani. (Ahmad Majdalani Facebook page)

“I’ve decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States,” said Maduro to thousands of cheering supporters in Caracas.

“Get out! Leave Venezuela, here there’s dignity, damn it,” he said, giving US diplomats 72 hours to depart the country.

Canada, Brazil Argentina and Colombia also recognized Guaido on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators poured into the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday, accusing Maduro of usurping power and demanding he step down. Venezuela has recently reeled from a crushing economic crisis, compelling many to go hungry.

Maduro has shown no signs he intends to leave office.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry condemned “the direct intervention of some states in Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s affairs” and “affirmed its solidarity with” the South American country.

Venezuela and the Palestinians have long maintained strong ties.

Venezuela recognized the “State of Palestine” in 2009 and has frequently supported the Palestinians in international forums including the United Nations. In 2018, PA President Mahmoud Abbas visited Caracas, where he met Maduro.

On Thursday afternoon, a small group of Palestinians protested in support of Maduro near the Venezuelan Representative Office in Ramallah.

“Solidarity with Venezuela and its struggling people and leader Maduro,” read a poster demonstrators held aloft.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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