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Trump Recognizes Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó As President

U.S. president Donald Trump recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the true interim president of Venezuela. This comes after Guaidó declared himself president in front of cheering crowds in Caracas. This comes two weeks after controversial leader Nicolas Maduro was sworn in to a second six-year term as president. Many in the international community believe that Maduro’s election was illegitimate and have urged him to step down. Guaidó is the leader of the National Assembly, which is an opposition party to Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela. President Trump stated that,

“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 Nicolás 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.”

Maduro took over for president Hugo Chavez after his death in 2013. Chavez instituted a socialist government that began many social programs in Venezuela. At that time Venezuela’s economy was more solid thanks to its vast oil reserves. However, when the price of oil bottomed out the Venezuelan economy tanked. Mass starvation, unemployment, and a mass migration out of Venezuela followed. Protests and opposition groups have been suppressed, sometimes brutally. Maduro still has plenty of supporters, however, particularly among many poor or older Venezuelans who feel like they benefited from Chavez’s reforms. The military is going to play a crucial part in what is to come. Much like Chavez’s own rise to power, the military could be the tipping point in either toppling the Maduro government or keeping it in power.

One thing is certain and that is that the status quo is unsustainable. Action must be taken one way or another or Venezuela will fall into a decline that may take decades to recover from. Maduro has shown poor leadership and his falling back on old banana republic authoritarian measures have shown that he is an unfit leader. The reality is that if Venezuela doesn’t fix this issue through democratic means it will tear itself apart in a bloody civil war between reform-minded leaders like Juan Guaidó and those that are loyal to Maduro and Chavez’s legacy. It will be interesting to see how things pan out.

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