22 | FEB | 2019
Buoyed by protesters, opposition leader Juan Guaidó claims Venezuela presidency
Juan Guaidó, President of Venezuela's National Assembly, holds a copy of Venezuelan constitution during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government - Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/REUTERS

Buoyed by protesters, opposition leader Juan Guaidó claims Venezuela presidency

23/01/2019
14:36
Reuters
Caracas
Mayela Armas, Angus Berwick, & Corina Pons
-A +A
Guaidó’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions

Backed by hundreds of thousands of protesters, Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself Interim President on Wednesday, calling for free elections to end the rule of socialist Nicolás Maduro.

In a statement minutes later, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president, and a Canadian official said Canada was preparing also to add its support.

Demonstrators clogged avenues in eastern Caracas, chanting “Get out, Maduro” and “Guaidó, Presidente,” while waving national flags. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in several areas after a rally on Tuesday evening left a reported four people dead.

The 35-year-old Guaidó has energized the opposition with a campaign to declare Maduro a usurper after elections last year widely regarded as fraudulent and has promised a transition to a new government in a nation suffering a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” said Guaidó, recently elected head of congress, before an exuberant crowd.

Guaidó’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions.

Chile, Peru, Paraguay, and Colombia are among the countries recognizing the leadership of Venezuela opposition leader Guaidó. Mexico does not foresee a change in policy on Venezuela “for the time being,” a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. Under its new leftist government, Mexico has steered its foreign policy toward a traditional non-interventionist stance, breaking with allies in the region who want President Nicolás Maduro to resign after a widely questioned election.
 

Artículo

Mexico's Foreign Policy: Principle of Non-intervention

Embodied in the Estrada Doctrine, it has been one of the cornerstones of Mexico's Foreign Policy since the beginning of the twentieth century
Mexico's Foreign Policy: Principle of Non-intervention Mexico's Foreign Policy: Principle of Non-intervention

Maduro’s administration could also crack down on Guaidó. It has previously accused him of staging a coup and has threatened him with jail. Guaidó’s political mentor, Leopoldo López, was arrested in 2014, one of dozens of opposition activists and leaders the government jailed for seeking to overthrow Maduro through violent street demonstrations in 2014 and 2017.

Guaidó has said he would be willing to replace Maduro with the support of the military and to call free elections. Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a sham.

I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” Trump said in his statement.

The Trump administration could impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil as soon as this week, according to sources.

Any change in government in Venezuela will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces. So far, they have stood by Maduro through two waves of street protests and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.

The constitution says if the presidency is determined to be vacant, new elections should be called in 30 days and that the head of congress should assume the presidency in the meantime.

The pro-government Supreme Court has ruled that all actions taken by Congress are null and void.

Maduro has presided over Venezuela’s spiral into its worst-ever economic crisis, with hyperinflation forecast to reach 10 million percent this year. Some 3 million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape widespread shortages of food and medicine.

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