Venezuela: US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaims himself interim President

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
By Paul Martin
23 Jan, 2019

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has taken an oath and sworn himself in as interim president, as droves of protesters take to the streets calling for President Nicolas Maduro’s exit.

Guaidó is currently President of the National Assembly, an elected legislature whose acts were declared null and void by Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Monday. The National Assembly had refused to recognize the authority of President Nicolas Maduro, declaring his election victory last year illegitimate.

Guaidó took the oath of office in front of a crowd of supporters in Caracas on Wednesday, as thousands of Venezuelans thronged the city’s streets to protest Maduro. He urged the country’s armed forces to support new elections, and pledged to perform the duties of president in the interim.

Moment after the news broke, US President Donald Trump said he recognizes Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, and encouraged other western powers to follow suit.

“The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Trump said in a statement. “We continue to hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s protests, US Vice President Mike Pence released a video message reiterating the US’ commitment to regime change in Venezuela. Denouncing Maduro as “a dictator with no legitimate claim to power” who has “never won the presidency in a free and fair election,” Pence vowed that the US “will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles.”

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