Unofficial Venezuelan leader gains international recognition

By Muhammad Siddiqui
Web Editor

On Jan. 23, opposition lawmaker and head of Venezuela’s National Assembly Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, according to The Washington Post. This earned him the swift backing of several nations, including the United States, which opposes Venezuela’s current socialist regime under President Nicolas Maduro.

The oil-rich nation of Venezuela has seen economic woes in recent years. As a result of cronyism in the Chavez era and his poor economic policies, Venezuela’s economy was suffering when Maduro took office as his successor in 2013 and when oil prices dropped in 2014, according to The Washington Post.

Guaido pledges political reform (Flickr).

Since then inflation rates have hit record highs with an annual rate of 1.3 million percent in 2018, according to BBC. For many, the costs of basic goods have soared out of reach, leading to mass migration of Venezuelans into neighboring South American nations, according to The Washington Post.

These poor economic conditions have hit Maduro’s popularity, with thousands taking part in anti-Maduro protests, according to BBC.

Maduro was narrowly re-elected last year, but amidst much controversy that involved the jailing of opposition candidates, according to BBC.

The opposition-held National Assembly claims that under such unfair elections, the country’s constitution allows for the head of the Assembly to take over as interim president while a new election is held.

However, Maduro has refused to let go of his power and has accused Guaido of mounting a coup, according to BBC. With top military leaders still pledging their allegiance to Maduro, Guaido has been unable to gain control over the nation and protesters have had to contend with clashes with the police.

Some support for Guaido emerged on Jan. 26, as several European nations demanded that another election take place within the next eight days, reported BBC.

This follows a statement from President Donald Trump on Jan. 23, when he declared Guaido the interim president of Venezuela and urged other nations to give him the same recognition, according  to CNN. Trump also  added that he “will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,’’ CNN reports.

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