- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was just sworn in as the nation’s interim president.
- The 35-year-old former engineer has been in the frontlines of recent uprisings against Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
- The United States has already expressed its support for the opposition uprising in Venezuela and is planning on recognising Guaidó as the nation’s legitimate leader.
Up until this month, virtually no one on the international sphere had heard about Juan Guaidó. Now, the 35-year-old former engineer has been sworn in as Venezuela’s interim leader.
For the last few days, Guaidó has stood at the frontlines of an opposition uprising in Venezuela, leading protestors on the streets as they demanded the ousting of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, who earlier this month began his new six-year term as the country’s leader.
Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has for years been an outspoken critic of Maduro. Now, he is set on taking the country’s leadership from him.
On January 15, Guaidó led the Venezuelan legislature as it declared Maduro an illegitimate president. Though the country’s National Assembly has been largely powerless since Maduro ordered the nation’s Supreme Court to dissolve it in 2017, the declaration echoed internationally.
That same week, US Vice President Mike Pence called Guaidó to recognise leadership and to let him know that the US supports the National Assembly, declaring it the “only legitimate democratic body in the country.”
Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organisation of American States, went as far as calling Guaidó Venezuela’s interim president, days before he was sworn in.
Protests in Venezuela that began as small demonstrations have now evolved to national clashes between Venezuelans led by the opposition and the National Guard. Protestors are demanding Maduro step down, saying his presidency is unconstitutional and fraudulent. On Wednesday, the BBC reported that at least four have died in violent clashes between protesting civilians and armed forces.
In a speech Wednesday, Guaidó invoked Venezuela’s constitution and declared himself the nation’s interim president.
“I swear to assume the competencies of the national executive as the interim president of Venezuela, in order to achieve the end of [Maduro’s] usurpation, a transitional government and free elections,” he said as a large crowd cheered him on.
Soon after, the Trump administration announced its support of Guaidó’s presidency.
In a statement, Trump encouraged other Western Hemisphere governments to recognise Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela and said the US government would continue to hold the “illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people.”
“The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Trump said. “I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy.”