Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro. (Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg)

Maduro-Guaido Battle Moves From Caracas Streets to U.S. Courts

(Bloomberg) -- It’s official. The battle over who rules Venezuela has moved from the streets of Caracas to the marble-lined halls of the U.S. court system.

Lawyers for President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido are fighting to be heard in a Canadian mining company’s lawsuit seeking compensation for its expropriated property in Venezuela. Guaido’s lawyers -- who used to represent the Maduro regime -- asked an appeals court Thursday to rule against a bid from Maduro’s lawyers to join the case.

"The President of the United States has recognized Juan Guaido as the rightful President of the Republic," lawyers from Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP said in the filing. "This court is conclusively bound by that determination, so that only President Guaido or his representatives may represent the interests of the Republic in U.S. courts."

“President Maduro vigorously disputes that Mr. Guaido is the president of the Republic, and asserts that he remains the rightful leader,” lawyers from Venable LLP argued last week. “Arnold & Porter did not seek the Republic’s permission to represent Mr. Guaido.”

The Arnold & Porter lawyers told the court it should strike Venable’s filing and ignore its arguments.

The dispute threatens to grow into more than just a battle of billables between top U.S. law firms. Confusion over Venezuela’s leadership has extended to Venezuela’s state-controlled oil and gas company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, and its U.S. subsidiary, Citgo Petroleum Corp., which are also involved in U.S. lawsuits.

The case is Rusoro Mining Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 18-07044, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, District of Columbia (Washington).

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