After Nicólas Maduro was inaugurated in January for a six-year term following snap elections called in May 2018, President Donald Trump announced that the United States Government would not recognise Maduro’s presidency, prompting Latin American and Caribbean countries to state either their support or condemnation of Maduro. The positions of heads of state in Central America have fallen along predictable geopolitical and ideological lines. Salvadorian President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, all of whom lead left-leaning governments and have either strained or hostile relations with the Trump Administration, have stated their unequivocal support of the embattled President Maduro. Panamanian Head of State Juan Carlos Varela has distanced himself from Maduro and Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada joined the United States in declaring the President of the National Assembly Juan Guiádo, the interim President of Venezuela until elections are held. The side that Central American leaders have taken on the question of the legitimacy of Maduro’s Government may have repercussions, namely further political and economic isolation for El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala by the United States. It also highlights the lack of a regional, let alone an international, consensus on the way diplomatic and economic relations should be conducted with the increasingly polarising Maduro regime.
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