As the crisis in Venezuela continues to spiral downward, the White House has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as its president.
Mr. Guaidó has served as president of the Venezuela National Assembly since the beginning of the year.
Amid growing discontent in the country, in a direct challenge to President Nicolas Maduro’s rule, Guaidó declared himself the interim president last week. Guaidó has the backing of the U.S. and its allies in the region.
In response to the crisis, the European Union (EU) has called for new elections in Venezuela within the next week or, French President Emmanuel Macron said “we will be ready to recognize Juan Guaidó as the ‘president in charge’ of Venezuela to start a political process.”
With demonstrators taking to the streets on Wednesday, Guaidó, citing a national emergency, assumed presidential responsibilities under the Venezuelan constitution, offered amnesty to military authorities, asked for American aid and requested Venezuelan gold reserves be frozen overseas.
Mr. Guaidó also stated amnesty would be possible for Maduro should he relinquish power peacefully.
In response, Mr. Maduro stated he would not hold new elections, accused the U.S. of staging a coup and vowed to remain in office as the country’s duly elected leader.
Maduro also announced his intent to break diplomatic ties with Washington and demanded U.S. diplomats leave the country. Shortly thereafter, Maduro reversed himself and said U.S. emmisaries could remain in the country.
His turnaround over the U.S. diplomatic corps was met with a stiff warning from the State Department, demanding guarantees over the safety of its personnel.
In the midst of the confusion dominating Venezuela’s politics, in New York, at the U.N., U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted a critical point had been reached in Caracas and the world must “pick a side.”
As Pompeo addressed the U.N. Security Council, the top Venezuelan military attache to the U.S., Colonel Jose Luis Silva, announced to journalists he had defected to America and had thrown support behind Guaidó.
An utterly chaotic situation evolving from Venezuela’s snap poll in May 2018, Maduro has faced heavy criticism for holding a sham election.
Ahead of that election originally scheduled for December 2018, Maduro had prohibited political opponents from appearing on the ballot. In several instances, Maduro opponents were either jailed or fled the country.
Mr. Maduro was inaugurated for his second term in January with the support of Russia, which sent military contractors to protect the current president last week after reportedly investing billions in his government.
The public unrest in Venezuela has been inspired by staggering hyperinflation, high unemployment, falling GDP, and massive shortages of food and medicine. Reports from the country have revealed citizens are short on fresh water and fear over the outbreak of malaria and other disease.
Since 2015, over 3 million Venezuelan citizens have left the country for Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
[Politico] [RT] [BBC] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy BBC]