Juan Guaidó Accepted As Interim President of Venezuela

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo gives remarks to the Organization of American States on the crisis in Venezuela. (US Mission to the OAS)

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo gives remarks to the Organization of American States on the crisis in Venezuela. (US Mission to the OAS)

Juan Guaidó, the elected President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, was sworn into a transitional presidency on January 23 in the midst of worldwide protests in response to Nicolás Maduro’s illegitimate presidency.  The presidential elections of May 2018 were not accepted by the democratically elected legislative body of the country, but Guaidó’s role as interim president was approved by the Venezuelan National Assembly and throughout the international community after Maduro was sworn into office on January 10.

Venezuela has experienced various economic, political, and social crises in recent years. These crises have resulted in the largest mass migration in the history of Latin America, with an estimated 3.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees leaving the country. The lack of food, medicine, and democracy has frustrated the Venezuelan population, causing protests against Maduro’s regime in cities across the country and world.

When Maduro’s regular term ended on January 10, the Organization of American States (OAS) met in Washington, D.C. to debate a resolution proposed by Colombia and various other nations to declare the illegitimacy of his presidency. The resolution was passed by the OAS, and the international organization pushed for a democratic regime change in Venezuela.

Guaidó was elected as president of the National Assembly on January 5, and, in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution, he announced his interim presidency on January 11. He will assume this position until free and fair elections are held to choose a democratically- elected president.

On January 23, thousands of Venezuelans around the world protested peacefully against Maduro’s regime as Guaidó was sworn in, asking for democratic presidential elections, and demonstrating their support for Guaidó’s interim presidency. In Caracas, Guaidó spoke to both the domestic and global Venezuelan population, saying, “Let us swear together as brothers that we will not rest until we achieve freedom.”

Countries including Bolivia, Russia, Turkey, and Iran have remained steadfast in their support for Nicolás Maduro, arguing that national sovereignty must be protected. Luis Almagro, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, responded by saying that “the sovereignty of Venezuela is in its people, and Nicolás Maduro is not their president.”

Following the protests of January 23, heads of state from around the world voiced their recognition of and support for Guaidó and the fight for democracy. Latin American nations including Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Argentina were among the first nations to declare this support.

President Donald Trump also voiced his support for Guaidó, tweeting, “The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

Following statements from these nations, among others, Israel, Australia, and Georgia have also voiced their support for Guaidó. Most recently, as of January 31, the Parliament of the European Union has recognized Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, signalling growing acceptance of his presidency.