Meet Juan Guaidó, the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela who’s challenging Nicolas Maduro for power

  • Juan Guaidó has gone from an unknown figure to the face of the opposition movement in Venezuela in a decidedly short period.
  • In late January, Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela amid nationwide protests against Nicolas Maduro and his ruling Socialist party.
  • The US and its allies have officially recognise Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, but he still faces a number of obstacles as he fights to take the country away from Maduro’s authoritarian government.

Juan Guaidó was a relatively obscure figure until January 2019, when he began making headlines after declaring himself interim president of Venezuela amid nationwide protests against authoritarian president Nicolas Maduro.

The US and a number of its top allies have since lined up to support Guiadó’s claim to power, but Maduro remains obstinate and still has the support of Venezuela’s armed forces.

The governments of Russia and China are also sticking with Maduro, which gives him considerable leverage.

In short, Venezuela’s future remains uncertain as Guiadó finds himself at the center of a power struggle that has grabbed the international community’s attention.

Here’s what you need to know about Guiadó and the chaotic situation that has engulfed Venezuela.


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Juan Guaidó, 35, is the leader of the opposition movement in Venezuela and the most potent threat to Nicolas Maduro’s authoritarian government.

LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty ImagesVenezuela’s National Assembly head and the country’s self-proclaimed ‘acting president’ Juan Guaido (C), waves at opposition supporters as he leaves a gathering at Bolivar Square in Chacao, eastern Caracas, on January 25, 2019.


Source:
INSIDER


Guiadó, who helped found the Popular Will party in 2009, was elected to the National Assembly in 2015. He’s become the face of the opposition movement in Venezuela despite his relative lack of inexperience.

Source:NPR; The Guardian


Maduro has been working to undermine the National Assembly’s authority for years, and his ruling Socialist party controls virtually every aspect of Venezuela’s government. For his undemocratic efforts, Maduro has been decried by the international community.


Source:
The Guardian


Guiadó in early January was made the leader of the opposition-controlled parliament – the National Assembly. He is a junior member of the People’s Will party but was made chairman of the legislature given the party’s leaders are under house arrest, in exile, or in hiding.


Source:
The Guardian


Guaidó on January 23 declared himself the interim president of Venezuela in defiance of Maduro and amid nationwide protests. Speaking to thousands of cheering supporters, Guaidó said he was “formally assuming the responsibility of the national executive.”


Source:
INSIDER


Venezuelans have been protesting against Maduro’s government and the ruling Socialist party, which has pushed the country into economic collapse, for several years. Maduro’s inept policies and dictatorial practices have led to hyperinflation and mass numbers of people to flee Venezuela. People, including children, have died of starvation.


Source:
The New York Times


Maduro had been sworn into a second six-year term in office just two weeks prior to Guaidó’s stunning declaration, but his reelection in May 2018 was not recognised by the opposition amid allegations of vote buying and other undemocratic tactics. The US government also did not recognise Maduro’s reelection.


Source:
NPR


Guaidó has pointed to a clause in the Venezuelan constitution that states the leader of the legislature becomes president when there is a “vacuum of power.” He’s asserted that the illegitimacy of Maduro’s reelection has created such a situation, which is the basis of his claim to power.


Source:
TIME


The US government and a number of its allies have lined up to officially recognise Guaidó’s claim to power.


Source:
INSIDER


“My duty is to call for free elections because there is an abuse of power and we live in a dictatorship,” Guaidó told the BBC on January 29. “In Venezuela, we either accept domination, total oppression and torture … from Maduro’s regime, or we choose freedom, democracy and prosperity for our people.” He said Maduro has been “killing young poor people” in Venezuela’s streets.


A UN human rights spokesman on January 29 said more than 850 people were detained in Venezuela between January 21 and January 26, including 77 children, some as young as 12. Meanwhile, at least 40 were killed in recent violence in Venezuela, including 26 shot by pro-government forces.


Source:
US News


Despite support from major powers like the US, Guaidó faces an uphill battle. He does not have the full support of Venezuela’s military, and Maduro’s allies in the government have moved to freeze his assets and restrict his movements. Guaidó was arrested on January 13, but swiftly released.

Source: Time;The Washington Post


Maduro also has the backing of Russia and China, which gives him leverage.


Ongoing protests could shift the tide in Guaidó’s favour. The US has also hinted it’s willing to use military force against Maduro if it comes to that.


Source:
INSIDER


Guaidó is confident there can be a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela. “We are sure we can achieve a peaceful transition – a transition and eventually free elections,” he told CNN on January 29. “We must use great pressure for a dictator to leave, install a transitional government and have free elections.”

Source: The Guardian


In announcing himself interim president, Guaidó said, “It has to be the Venezuelan people, the armed forces, and the international community that allow us to assume power, which we will not let slip away.” He has promised amnesty to the military if it withdraws support for Maduro.

Source: NPR


Guaidó, an industrial engineer, was born in the port city of La Guaira in the state of Vargas. He’s one of seven children.

Source:BBC;INSIDER


After studying industrial engineering as an undergrad, Guaidó completed graduate degrees at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and Venezuelan private business school Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración.


Source:
BBC


He was reportedly driven into politics after a the government’s ineffective response to a devastating, deadly flood in his community. As a student, he organised protests against Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s late predecessor and the father of the socialist revolution in Venezuela.

Source:NPR; BBC


Guaidó technically has no authority over Venezuela’s government institutions but still wields a significant amount of influence moving forward.


Source:
NPR


Guiadó on Tuesday declared he was launching an effort to oust Maduro, which he called “Operation Liberty,” and urged the military to break ranks and join him. Gunfire was reportedly heard in Caracas as some members of the military defected to his side. A spokesman for the Venezuelan government referred to the defectors as “a small group of traitors.” Meanwhile, leaders back in the US offered their support to Guiadó.


Source:
INSIDER

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