“Raise your right hand, today, January 23rd, 2019, in my condition as President of the National Assembly, invoking the articles of the Constitution – before Almighty God,” said leader of Voluntad Popular the Venezuelan opposition party, Juan Guaido said among his supporters. “I swear to formally assume the power of the National Executive Office as the President of Venezuela,” he continued.
The ‘swearing in’ took place in the city of Caracas and remains the spotlight of the ongoing political turmoil in Venezuela, a country currently in the midst of regime change — drawing a line in the sand with President Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Words From The Trump Administration
Several days ago Vice President, Mike Pence tweeted the following along with a video, “As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad.”
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As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad. pic.twitter.com/ThzIAqBoRn
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 22, 2019
On Wednesday United States President Donald Trump officially supported Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela and released the following statement:
Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law. I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy. We encourage other Western Hemisphere governments to recognize National Assembly President Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela, and we will work constructively with them in support of his efforts to restore constitutional legitimacy. We continue to hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people. As Interim President Guaido noted yesterday: ‘Violence is the usurper’s weapon; we only have one clear action: to remain united and firm for a democratic and free Venezuela.
The Organization of American States (OAS) quickly followed in recognizing Guaido as interim President of Venezuela tweeting, “We congratulate @jguaido as President in charge of #Venezuela. He has our full support and recognition to push the return of his country to democracy #23Jan #OaswithVenezuela.” The tweet was authorized by OAS President Luis Almagro.
.@Almagro_OEA2015: Congratulations to @jguaido interim President of #Venezuela. You have our recognition to move forward the country’s return to democracy #23Ene #OEAconVzla pic.twitter.com/zJ2UiykvMg
— OAS (@OAS_official) January 23, 2019
“Speaking to supporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, socialist leader Maduro said he would give U.S. diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave Venezuela, which is suffering from a hyperinflationary economic collapse,” CNBC reported.
Reuters also reported after Guaido declared himself President, security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators (likely Guaido supporters) in the streets of Caracas, showing how much tension exists within the current situation. Their reporting continued:
Longstanding leftist allies Bolivia and Cuba were the only countries in the region to explicitly voice support for Maduro as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru backed Guaido. The United States and Canada also recognized Guaido – the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela’s opposition-dominated National Assembly – as Venezuela’s legitimate ruler. However, Mexico – once a vocal member of the Lima Group regional bloc created to pressure Maduro to enact democratic reforms – struck a discordant note under new leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, saying it would not take sides and branding support for Guaido a violation of sovereignty.
What Happens Next?
With Venezuela dealing with dire economic issues, resulting from the massive corruption under former Socialist President Hugo Chavez, it’s unlikely protests will quiet without further incident. Maduro doesn’t seem ready to relinquish power as he still has loyalists who support his Presidential regime.
The history of the United States playing a role in regime changes within Central and South America should raise questions concerning if the Trump Administration aided in the Venezeula uprising. However, it’s clear President Trump plans on helping to usher in a Guaido administration.