Venezuela's Maduro could miss Lula inauguration

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro addresses the media from the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela November 30, 2022. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Heads of state and governments will be attending President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's inauguration on Jan. 1, but one might have trouble entering Brazil - Venezuela's leftist president, Nicolas Maduro.

Lula's transition team have not sent out invitations yet, but aides said that all countries with diplomatic ties to Brazil would be invited.

An order signed in August 2019 under outgoing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro barred high-ranking Venezuelan government officials from visiting Brazil.

Bolsonaro recognized Venezuelan opposition leader, National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido, as that country's legitimate head of state and accepted the diplomatic credentials of his envoy, Maria Teresa Belandria.

Maduro's diplomats were declared persona non grata by the Bolsonaro government, though the Brazilian judiciary stopped their expulsion.

Belandria never gained access to the Venezuelan embassy in Brasilia. She lived and worked from a hotel room.

Now she has read the writing on the wall and is packing her bags. She plans to leave Brazil before Lula becomes president. His Workers Party has said it will recognize Maduro.

"She wasn't going to wait and give them the chance to tell her to leave," said a spokesperson for Belandria.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia)

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