BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union on Tuesday named Spanish-Uruguayan former banker and diplomat Enrique Iglesias as its point man to help end the crisis in Venezuela, part of an intensification of diplomatic efforts to seek new elections.
The EU, which leads an international crisis group with South American nations, hopes Iglesias can help find a way to convince Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step aside and allow all political groups in the country to contest a free and fair vote.
Maduro maintains control over Venezuela’s state institutions but the country’s opposition is pushing to remove him amid a catastrophic economic collapse that has created a humanitarian crisis.
Iglesias, a former Uruguayan foreign minister and a former president of the Inter-American Development Bank, is seen by diplomats as having the contacts and know-how to talk to both Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, as well as other political groups.
Having met Maduro and Guaido this month, the EU’s crisis group that includes Britain, France and Germany also hopes to convince the United States to back a peaceful diplomatic process out of the crisis.
Political commentators in Washington have speculated that U.S. President Donald Trump might look to military options since economic and diplomatic pressure have failed to remove Maduro from power.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott, editing by Ed Osmond)