Maduro’s Venezuelan govt. proposes Turkey as ‘protecting power’ for embassy

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has put Turkey forward as the “protecting power” for its embassy in Washington D.C., Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

“The U.S. is appointing the Swiss government as the protecting power in Caracas, and we are respecting that. But we also need that they accept our protecting power,” Anadolu quoted Venezuelan Ambassador to Washington Samuel Moncada as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.

Moncada added that the U.S. government rejected its proposal of Turkey as a protector since it does not recognise Maduro’s government.

The U.S. government is one 54 governments that have thrown their weight behind Juan Guaido, the President of the National Assembly of Venezuela who declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January.

Guaido had asked U.S. authorities for help taking control of the Venezuelan embassy in Washington D.C., which has been occupied by protesters for over a month, and on Thursday police forcibly removed pro-Maduro activists from the building.

The Venezuelan opposition factions led by Guaido says Maduro has usurped power in the country, and chose to boycott the presidential elections last year.

Maduro won the elections with 67.8 percent of the vote, beating candidates from two different opposition factions and was inaugurated in January, leading to protests and Guaido’s subsequent declaration of his rival presidency.

Since then, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been one of the strongest supporters of Maduro, whose government has presided over a blossoming of Turkish-Venezuelan relations since 2016.

These tight relations include a large increase in trade, with Turkish goods helping Maduro’s government overcome crippling shortages and Turkey’s involvement in the country’s gold trade fuelling suspicions that Ankara is helping Maduro dodge U.S. sanctions.