In the context of the ongoing presidential crisis in Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaido took his own oath of office and declared himself the country’s interim president at a mass rally in Caracas on Wednesday. Here are some key facts about the young opposition figure.
Family & Education
One of eight children, the 35-year-old was raised in the coastal town of La Guaira and studied industrial engineering at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in 2007.
Guaido, who has repeatedly been accused by the Venezuelan government of being promoted by the US, did postgraduate studies at George Washington University in DC.
According to his colleagues, Guaido’s political views were largely influenced by former president Hugo Chavez’s ineffective response to the natural disaster.
Guaido is married to Fabiana Rosales; their daughter Miranda was born at the height of the 2017 protests, during which he was hit in the neck by plastic buckshot and suffered hand fracture in clashes with police.
Guaido’s political origins can be traced back to his time in college: he was part of a student-led movement that protested against the Chavez government’s decision not to renew the broadcasting licence of private television network, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV).
Chavez accused the network of violating broadcast laws and supporting the 2002 coup attempt that saw him ousted from office for almost two days before he was restored to power. Chavez eventually replaced RCTV with a state-run broadcast station.
He joined the National Assembly in 2011, serving as an alternate until being elected in 2016 as representative for the state of Vargas – a position that he still holds.
3 Weeks In Maduro Opposition
While being sworn in as president of Venezuela’s disempowered National Assembly on 5 January, Guaido pledged to oppose the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro.
Having described Maduro’s inauguration on 10 January 2019 as “illegitimate”, he stated that he would challenge his claim and held a rally, where the National Assembly announced Guaido was ready to replace the president.
Following the announcement, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza gave an interview to local media outlet, Democracy Now, in which he said that the US is trying to oust Maduro by pushing Guaido.
“And you see this man, who nobody knows in Venezuela—you ask in the streets, ‘Who is Juan Guaidó?’ and nobody knows him—but he’s being pushed to say that he is the new president, by the US”, he said.
Just a few days after the National Assembly stated that Guaido was ready to replace Maduro, he was detained by Venezuelan government operatives on the way to La Guaira to attend a rally. Guaido was, however, released 45 minutes later.
On the next day, Guaido took the oath of office, declaring himself interim president of Venezuela in a move immediately recognised by both US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
The US government has been calling on Nicolas Maduro to step down “in favour of a legitimate leader reflecting the will of the Venezuelan people”.
So far, the US, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Peru have recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
In the meantime, Nicolas Maduro has accused the US of attempting to stage a coup in the South American country. He also announced that Caracas was severing diplomatic and political ties with Washington, and gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.