Brazil withdrew an invitation to the envoy for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to present her diplomatic credentials, she said on Friday, and the government in Brasilia said it would decide later whether to accept them.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro still recognizes Mr. Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, his spokesman said. Mr. Guaido’s envoy, Maria Teresa Belandria, played down the idea that the snub reflected skepticism from Mr. Bolsonaro’s government.
Diplomatic analysts said mounting evidence that a change of government in Venezuela is not imminent may have Mr. Bolsonaro and his aides wondering if they overplayed their support for Mr. Guaido.
Former military officers making up about a third of Brazil’s cabinet have been wary of provoking Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, warning against moves that could tip an economic and political crisis into violence across Brazil’s northern border.
Ms. Belandria had been invited to present her credentials at the presidential palace along with ambassadors from other countries next Tuesday, but the government changed its mind.
“I was uninvited,” she told Reuters, but went on to dismiss any suggestion the snub reflected diminished support for Mr. Guaido.
“There will be another opportunity,” she said. “Brazil’s support continues to be strong, solid and decisive. It’s merely a protocol matter.”
Presidential spokesman General Otavio Rego Barros said Ms. Belandria was the representative of Venezuela’s “legitimate president” and denied an invitation had been withdrawn.
“Reception or not of the letters of accreditation will be assessed at a more convenient moment,” he told Reuters.
Brazilian newspapers Folha de S.Paulo and O Globo reported that Mr. Bolsonaro’s government had cancelled her invitation because ex-military aides want to pursue dialogue with Mr. Maduro, who also has an official representative in Brasilia.
“They realize Brazil has to deal with the reality that Maduro is not going anywhere right now and, even if he leaves, Guaido will not be president and a general will likely take his place,” said Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of foreign relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo.
Mr. Guaido invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to assume the interim presidency, saying Mr. Maduro’s re-election was not legitimate. Brazil and most Western countries have since backed him as head of state.
However, the Brazilian government has not revoked the credentials of Mr. Maduro’s representatives in Brasilia.
Mr. Guaido’s press team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Venezuela recently reopened its border crossing to Brazil after a nearly three-month closure, and Mr. Bolsonaro’s aides are working to restore more regular power supply for the Brazilian state of Roraima, which depends on the Venezuelan grid.
Mr. Bolsonaro, like many heads of state in the region, has been sharply critical of the Maduro government, and advisers to U.S. President Donald Trump have pressed him to take a harder line, raising speculation about positioning U.S. troops in Brazil.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s top security adviser, retired General Augusto Heleno, told Reuters two weeks ago that Venezuela’s armed forces will decide Mr. Maduro’s future and could depose him to lead a transition to democratic elections.
“Recognition of Guaido’s envoy was never agreed to by the military, who vetoed the idea of a U.S. base in Brazil from day one,” said Brazilian diplomat Paulo Roberto de Almeida.