Venezuelan opposition dissolves Guaido's 'interim government'

The Venezuelan opposition on Friday dissolved the "interim government" led by Juan Guaido, once the popular and internationally recognized face of the drive to oust leftist leader Nicolas Maduro.

The vote came in the opposition-controlled National Assembly, a body elected in 2015 and now largely symbolic as it was replaced by a legislature loyal to Maduro.

The tally was 72 in favor of dissolving the interim government, 29 against and eight abstentions.

Almost four years ago, in January 2019, Guaido won the recognition of more than 50 nations including the United States as the legitimate albeit acting leader of Venezuela, after widely disputed presidential elections that kept Maduro in power.

But while the opposition holds the purse strings to some of Venezuela's assets abroad, Guaido's failure to find a winning strategy to oust Maduro has caused his public support to plummet.

Maduro is blamed for overseeing an oppressive regime and running Venezuela's economy into chaos and poverty for years, with widespread shortages of food and medicine and other essentials.

And Guaidos international backers, led by the United States, have adopted a more nuanced approach.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week that Washington would continue to support Venezuela's democratic opposition and the interim government, regardless of what form it takes.

At the same time, President Joe Biden's administration rewarded the Maduro government's decision to return to talks with the opposition, with a slight easing of sanctions on the Venezuelan oil industry.

Meanwhile, some Latin American countries -- including Brazil, Colombia and Argentina -- have recently elected leftist leaders.

Three of four major parties in the Venezuelan opposition voted Friday to end the interim government led by Guaido.

"The interim government is no longer useful," these parties said in a joint statement, "and is of no interest to citizens."

Guaido pleaded in vain Thursday for a delay in ending the interim government.

"My proposal is that the institution be defended above individuals or personal interests and that this tool not be destroyed," Guaido said.

The National Assembly controlled by the opposition has insisted on remaining intact even though it has no power, saying that by doing so it maintains a thread of constitutionality. It insists that legislative elections won by Maduro loyalists were also fraudulent.