WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Treasury Department on Monday issued a new license allowing certain transactions with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido despite U.S. sanctions on the country, reaffirming Washington’s support for the politician as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
The license, which replaces a similar previous one, also allows for certain transactions with Venezuela’s National Assembly and some others, effectively recognizing the extension of the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s term by a year.
The term was extended after the mainstream opposition boycotted a parliamentary election on Dec. 6 handily won by President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling socialists that the opposition and most Western democracies said was neither free nor fair.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court last week ruled that the move by the opposition-controlled National Assembly to extend its term an additional year was invalid, paving the way for allies of Maduro to take over the body this month.
Washington in January 2019 recognized Venezuelan politician Guaido as the OPEC nation’s rightful leader and has ratcheted up sanctions and diplomatic pressure in the aftermath of Maduro’s 2018 re-election, widely described as fraudulent.
Maduro remains in power, backed by Venezuela’s military as well as Russia, China and Cuba.
The recognition of Guaido as interim president by the United States and others derives from his position as speaker of the National Assembly. Guaido invoked Venezuela’s constitution to assume a rival interim presidency in 2019, declaring Maduro was usurping the presidency after rigging his 2018 re-election.
The Treasury Department in the license said that transactions involving the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly convened by Maduro or the National Assembly scheduled to be seated on Tuesday are not authorized.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Susan Heavey in Washington and Luc Cohen in Caracas; Editing by Andrea Ricci)