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Juan Guaidó

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Juan Guaidó
Juan Guaidó in Group of Lima 2019 cropped.jpg
Juan Guaido in 2019
President of the National Assembly of Venezuela
Assumed office
5 January 2019
Preceded byOmar Barboza
Federal Deputy for Vargas
Assumed office
5 January 2016
Personal details
Born
Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez

(1983-07-28) 28 July 1983 (age 35)
La Guaira, Venezuela
Political partyPopular Will (Voluntad Popular)
Spouse(s)Fabiana Rosales[1]
Children1
EducationAndrés Bello Catholic University
George Washington University
ProfessionEngineer
Signature

Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez (Venezuelan Spanish pronunciation: [hwaŋ heˈɾaɾðo ɣwaiˈðo ˈmaɾkes] (About this soundlisten); born 28 July 1983) is a Venezuelan politician, a member of the social-democratic Popular Will party, and serves as a federal deputy to the National Assembly representing the state of Vargas. In 2019 Guaidó was appointed by the Popular Will party to become the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, after which he declared he was acting president of Venezuela, challenging Nicolás Maduro's presidency and starting the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis.

After the 2007 Venezuelan protests, Guaidó helped found the Popular Will party with Leopoldo López in 2009.[2] He was elected to be an alternate deputy in the National Assembly one year later in 2010[2][3] and in 2015, Guaidó was elected as a full-seat deputy.[4] Following a protocol to annually rotate the position of President of the National Assembly among political parties, Popular Will nominated Guaidó for the position.[2] Stating that the outcome of the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election was illegitimate and based on Article 233 of the Constitution of Venezuela, Guaidó declared he was acting president on 23 January 2019, subsequently receiving support from various governments.[5][6] In response the Maduro administration, which maintains control of the main governmental and military institutions within Venezuela,[7] prohibited Guaidó from leaving the country, froze his Venezuelan assets, launched a probe accusing Guaidó of foreign interference,[8] and intimidated him.[9][10][11]

Domestically, Guaidó's actions have included a proposed Plan País (a plan for the country), an amnesty law for military personnel and authorities who turn against the Maduro government,[12] and attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the country.[13] Regarding international affairs, he has received control of some Venezuelan assets and property in the United States,[13] and has appointed diplomats recognized by supportive governments.[7]

Early life and education

Guaido was born on 28 July 1983.[14] Part of a large family[a] and of modest origins,[1] he was raised in a middle-class home in the outskirts of La Guaira; his parents are Wilmer and Norka.[17][2] His father was an airline pilot[b] and his mother, a teacher.[15] One grandfather was a sergeant of the Venezuelan National Guard while another grandfather was a captain in the Venezuelan Navy.[18] His parents divorced when he was at a young age, with his father emigrating to the Canary Islands and working as a taxi driver.[2]

Guaidó lived through the 1999 Vargas tragedy which killed some of his friends while also destroying his school and home, leaving him and his family homeless.[14][2][19] The tragedy, according to his colleagues, influenced his political views after the then-new government of Hugo Chávez allegedly provided ineffective response to the disaster.[2][20] He said, "I saw that if I wanted a better future for my country I had to roll up my sleeves and give my life to public service."[19]

He and his family stayed in a makeshift home in Caracas where he earned his high school diploma in 2000.[2][21] Guaidó would continue to live in Caracas where he would earn his undergraduate degree in 2007 in industrial engineering from Andrés Bello Catholic University. He also completed two postgraduate programs in public administration at George Washington University in the United States and at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración in Caracas.[14][21]

He is married to Fabiana Rosales, a journalist,[22] and they have one daughter.[23]

Activism

Guaidó said, after "it became clear that under Chávez the country was drifting toward totalitarianism",[19] he helped found the student-led political movement that protested the Venezuelan government's decision not to renew the broadcasting license of independent television network RCTV[24] with other prominent student leaders in 2007—the year he graduated from Andrés Bello Catholic University.[25] They also protested broader attempted government reforms by Chávez, including the 2007 constitutional referendum, which Chávez lost.[26]

Together with Leopoldo López and other politicians, Guaidó was a founding member of the Popular Will political party in 2009;[27] the party is affiliated with Socialist International. In 2014, Guaidó was the party's national coordinator.[28] López, one of Venezuela's main opposition politicians who was under house arrest at the time, "mentored Guaidó for years" according to a January 2019 CNN report,[29] and the two speak several times daily.[1] As Lopez's protegé, Guaidó was well known in his party and the National Assembly, but not internationally;[30] López named Guaidó to lead the Popular Will party in 2019.[31]

Venezuelan National Assembly

In the 2010 Venezuelan parliamentary election, Guaidó was elected as an alternate national deputy.[3] He was one of several politicians who went on a hunger strike to demand parliamentary elections in 2015[29] and was elected to a full-seat in the National Assembly in the 2015 elections with 26% of the vote.[4][32] Vargas, an impoverished area, was home to many state-run companies that employed the majority of the population; until Guaidó's 2015 election, chavista candidates had run unchallenged.[20]

In 2017, he was named head of the Comptroller's Commission of the National Assembly and in 2018, he was named head of the legislature's opposition.[21] He contributed to research at the University of Arizona, giving testimony to analysts on the working conditions of Latin American politicians and, specifically, institutional crisis and political change.[28]

In the National Assembly, Guaidó investigated corruption cases involving the Maduro administration, and worked with independent organizations to recover money allegedly stolen from the Venezuelan public.[20] He participated in the 2017 Venezuelan protests and has stated that he has scars on his neck after being shot with rubber bullets.[31] In January 2018 he was sworn in as the Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly.[33][34] He spoke at the Latin American Peace Summit held in Brazil at the start of August 2018, representing Venezuela.

President of the National Assembly

Guaidó in a 1 February Voice of America interview

Guaidó was chosen as president of the National Assembly of Venezuela in December 2018 by the Assembly,[c] and was sworn in on 5 January 2019.[36] Relatives of imprisoned politicians were invited to the inauguration.[18] At 35, Guaidó is the youngest to have led the opposition.[16] Shortly after assuming the presidency of the legislature, Guaidó took actions towards forming a transitional government.[37][38][clarification needed (what actions?)]

An often-fragmented opposition unified around Guaidó.[39][40] Two politicians were primarily responsible for the strategy that brought Guaidó to prominence: Julio Borges (in exile)[41] and Leopoldo López (under house arrest). The plan was developed after the failed 2017 negotiations during the Venezuelan crisis between representatives of chavismo and the opposition, and that took more than a year to develop.[40] Ricardo Hausmann and politicians from different political parties were also involved. Borges was involved in external efforts, such as with the Lima Group, along with Antonio Ledezma and Carlos Vecchio, who operated in the United States; María Corina Machado and López operated in Venezuela.[40] David Smolansky and Freddy Guevara also supported Guaidó, along with Henrique Capriles, who had initially been distant.[40] Javier Corrales, professor and author,[d] stated that Guaidó's rise as a presidential figure began within Venezuela, not by foreign pressure.[43]

Upon taking office, Guaidó vowed to oppose Maduro, and elaborated an action plan.[18][44][45] The plan, approved by the National Assembly, comprised three phases (end of usurpation, transitional government, and free elections), with eight key points.[46]

Detention and release

While on his way to a 13 January 2019 public assembly, Guaidó was briefly detained by members of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN),[47] and released 45 minutes later.[15] The Lima Group[48] and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, condemned the act.[49] The Maduro government said the detention was carried out unilaterally by the SEBIN personnel,[50] and twelve SEBIN officials were charged for their actions.[51]

Guaidó declared that the events demonstrated that there was a break in the chain of command in the Armed Forces, and that Maduro was not in control.[52]

Acting President of Venezuela

Swearing-in as acting president

Nations recognizing presidential power as of 28 February 2019:
  Venezuela
  Neutral
  No statement
  Recognize Guaidó
  Support National Assembly
  Recognize Maduro

After what he and critics of the Maduro administration described as the "illegitimate" inauguration of Maduro on 10 January 2019, Guaidó challenged Maduro's claim to the presidency.[53] The National Assembly declared Guaidó was willing to assume the responsibilities of the presidency,[54][55] and continued to plan to remove Maduro. Guaidó told the Wall Street Journal that "[i]t's not about twisting arms, breaking kneecaps, but rather holding out a hand" and offered "amnesty to military officers who joined efforts for a transition in power".[16] They called for demonstrations on 23 January,[56][57] the 61st anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.[58] Large numbers of demonstrators came out in cities throughout Venezuela and across the world.[58][59] Guaidó declared he was acting president and took oath in Caracas.[60]

Within minutes of Guaidó's swearing-in, the United States recognized him as president, followed shortly thereafter by Canada and other Latin American and European countries; Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Turkey supported Maduro.[61][62][63] Maduro accused the United States of backing a coup and said he would cut ties with the country.[60] Guaidó has denied the coup allegations, saying peaceful volunteers backed his movement.[64] In December 2018, Guaidó had traveled to Washington D.C. where he met with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, and then on 14 January to Colombia for a Lima Group meeting, in which Maduro's mandate was rejected.[65] According to an article in El Pais, the January Lima Group meeting and the stance taken by Canada's Chrystia Freeland were vital for Guaidó's international support.[65] El Pais describes U.S. president Donald Trump's election—coinciding with the election of conservative presidents in Colombia and Brazil, along with deteriorating conditions in Venezuela—as "a perfect storm", influenced by hawks in the Trump administration.[65] Opposition members Carlos Vecchio, Julio Borges and Gustavo Tarre were consulted, and the Trump administration decision to back Guaidó formed on 22 January, according to El Pais.[65] U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others met with Trump that day, and Vice President Mike Pence called Guaidó that night to express U.S. support, according to The Wall Street Journal.[66]

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) rejected the National Assembly's decisions,[61] while the Supreme Tribunal of Justice of Venezuela in exile welcomed Guaidó as acting president.[67]

As of February 2019, Guaidó is recognized as the acting president of Venezuela by 54 countries.[6]

Personnel

Mike Pence meets with Carlos Vecchio, Julio Borges, and other Washington-based Venezuelan representatives on 29 January 2019

According to El Pais, Guaidó has had help, along with National Assembly vice-presidents Stalin González and Edgar Zambrano, from young representatives of various political parties: Miguel Pizarro for humanitarian aid, Carlos Paparoni heading a Finance Commission, and Marialbert Barrios working with embassies.[40] Delsa Solórzano worked with Luisa Ortega Díaz on the Amnesty Law.[40] David Smolansky is the OAS coordinator for the Venezuelan Migrant and Refugee crisis.[68]

Carlos Vecchio was accepted by Pompeo as the Guaidó administration's diplomatic envoy to the US.[69] Julio Borges was named to represent Venezuela in the Lima Group.[70] The National Assembly made more than a dozen[71][72][73] other diplomatic appointments, including Elisa Trotta Gamus to Argentina,[74][75] María Teresa Belandria to Brazil,[76] and Humberto Calderón Berti to Colombia.[77][78] Diplomats to Europe and the Dominican Republic were named on 19 February.[79]

Gustavo Tarre Briceño was named Venezuela's Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) on 29 January 2019,[80] and ratified by the National Assembly according to the constitution.[81][82] On 9 April, the OAS voted 18 to 9, with six abstentions, to accept Tarre Briceño as the ambassador from Venezuela. Maduro's Foreign Ministry called Tarre a "political usurper". The nomination was accepted 20 days before the deadline on Venezuela leaving the union, after they triggered the process in 2017, suggesting that the nation will remain in the OAS against the wishes of the Maduro administration. Venezuela's previous ambassador voted against Tarre. According to the Washington Post, the OAS vote undermined Maduro's presence internationally and marked a step in the official recognition of Guaidó's government.[83]

The National Assembly authorized Guaidó's appointment of a new ad hoc directors board of Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), of Citgo, Pdvsa Holding Inc, Citgo Holding Inc. and Citgo Petroleum Corporation. The appointed members of PDVSA were Simón Antúnez, Gustavo J. Velasquez, Carlos José Balza, Ricardo Prada and David Smolansky. Likewise, the appointed members of Citgo Holding and Citgo Petroleum Corporation were Luisa Palacios, Edgar Rincón, Luis Urdaneta, Ángel Olmeta, Andrés Padilla and Rick Esser.[84] With Citgo under the control of Guaidó's administration, the US Department of Treasury extended its license to operate in spite of US sanctions.[85]

Guaidó named José Ignacio Hernández as special solicitor, making Hernández the first official named with state power.[86] Ricardo Hausmann was named as Venezuela's representative to the Inter-American Development Bank,[87] who recognized Hausmann as a replacement for Maduro's representative.[88]

The Maduro administration's prosecutor general, Tarek William Saab, said the "appointments by Guaidó and his National Assembly are part of an illegal power grab backed by foreign governments"[89] and opened a probe into the ambassador and oil industry appointees; a magistrate of "Venezuela’s pro-Maduro Supreme Court later read a statement ... nullifying the appointments and accusing the National Assembly of overstepping its constitutional powers".[89]

Position on dialogue with Maduro

Guaidó has said that the National Assembly will not participate in dialogue with Maduro. His reasoning is that negotiations have already been attempted, "within and outside of Venezuela, in private and in public, alone and with international companions".[90] Guiadó says the result in every instance has been more repression, with Maduro taking advantage of the process to strengthen his position.[90] Offering as examples Leopoldo López, the detention of Juan Requesens, Julio Borges (in exile) and others, he says if Maduro really wanted dialogue, he would release political prisoners.[90] In an appeal to Uruguay and Mexico, he asked those countries to join him, and said he refused to participate in negotiations with Maduro.[91]

Referencing a letter Maduro wrote asking Pope Francis to assist, Guaidó refused the Vatican's offer to mediate if both parties accepted, calling the attempt a "false dialogue", and saying that the Vatican could assist those who "refused to see the Venezuelan reality".[92] Guaidó said that Maduro did not respect conditions of 2016 negotiations, and suggested the Pope could encourage Maduro to allow an orderly transition of power.[93] Corriere della Sera cited a 7 February 2019 reply from Pope Francis addressed to "Mr. Maduro", in which Pope Francis also stated that what had been agreed in earlier negotiations (open a channel for humanitarian aid, hold free elections, free political prisoners, and re-establish the constitutionally-elected National Assembly)[94] had not been followed.[95][96]

Guaidó characterizes Uruguay as failing to defend democracy, even as he says "[b]etween 2015 and 2017, the number of extrajudicial executions by the repressive machine was more than 9,200, more than three times the number of disappeared in Chile during the Pinochet military dictatorship."[90] He said Uruguay's stance was surprising, considering Venezuela has 300,000 starving people at risk of dying.[90]

Following the failed military uprising, representatives of Guaidó and Maduro began mediation with the assistance of the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution. Jorge Rodríguez and Héctor Rodríguez Castro served as representatives for Maduro while Gerardo Blyde [es] and Stalin González were representatives for Guaidó. Guaidó confirmed that there was an envoy in Norway, but assured that the opposition would not take part in "any kind of fake negotiations".[97] After the second meeting in Norway, no deal was reached.[98]

Intimidation and threats

Guaidó with his wife, Fabiana Rosales, and daughter, Miranda, in 2019

On 29 January, the TSJ launched a probe of Guaidó, froze his assets, and prohibited him from leaving the country.[99] The travel ban and freezing of assets was described as unconstitutional by Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for the United Nations Diego García Sayán.[100]

While announcing the Plan País at the Central University of Venezuela on 31 January, Guaidó said special police had come to his home and asked for Fabiana, his wife. He then gave a general warning, saying that he would hold anyone who threatened his 20-month-old daughter personally accountable for such actions.[101] He was holding his daughter when he gave the announcement, saying that they had "crossed a red line".[102]

Maduro said Guaidó was a clown with a "virtual mandate" who could be imprisoned.[103]

During a speech given at the start of the judicial year, Maduro said, "I was thinking about sending my assistant to the self-proclaimed to end his life"; seconds later Maduro said that "it was a joke" and that "they don't know what humor is".[11] Diosdado Cabello, the president of the Constituent National Assembly and number two in the country,[104] made another threat against Guaidó on 5 February in a public, videotaped discussion before the Constituent Assembly.[104][105] Cabello said that Guaidó had "never heard the whistle of a nearby bullet, you don't know what it feels like when a bullet hits three centimeters from you".[104][105][10] Cabello was reported to have asked Guaidó how far he was willing to go, because they were willing, saying that "We will not care about anything."[105] Guaidó's response was, "Caracas is the most violent capital in the world ... we have had political assassinations ... they have killed more than 40 children. Venezuelans have had to listen already to too many whistling bullets produced by a regime that does not care about the lives, the welfare of Venezuelans ... who need medicine and food ... you will not stop us with veiled threats."[106]

On 10 February, Guaidó said that his wife's grandmother was threatened by colectivos.[107] Guaidó told Euronews: "I am not worried about this costing my life or my freedom. If I give my life to serve the people. We know the risks we face. Our biggest fear is that what’s happening in Venezuela becomes normal."[64]

The Lima Group has stated that Guaidó and his family face "serious and credible threats" in Venezuela. Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that "any violent actions against Guiado, his wife, or family" would be met by all "legal and political mechanisms."[108]

In an interview with the Mexican GQ magazine, Guaidó said that he has been persecuted and has received direct death threats from the Maduro government.[9]

Latin American tour 2019

Juan Guaidó with the Vice-president of Brazil, Hamilton Mourão

Guaidó defied the restriction imposed by the Maduro administration on him leaving Venezuela, and attended Richard Branson's February 2019 Venezuela Live Aid concert in Cúcuta, Colombia,[109] whose purpose was to raise funds and awareness for humanitarian aid to Venezuela. In a move that tested Maduro's authority, Guaidó was met by Colombian president Iván Duque, and welcomed by a crowd chanting, "Juan arrived!"[109] Amid continuing tension, and having failed to get humanitarian aid into Venezuela, Guaidó and US vice president Pence attended a 25 February meeting of the Lima Group in Bogotá.[110][111] From there, he embarked on a regional tour to meet with the presidents of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Ecuador,[112] and discuss ways to rebuild Venezuela and defeat Maduro.[113]

Guaidó's trip was approved by Venezuela's National Assembly, as required by the Constitution of Venezuela.[114] Because he left the country under a travel restriction placed upon him by the Maduro administration, he faced the possibility of being imprisoned upon his return to Venezuela.[112] Maduro said that Guaidó was welcome to return to Venezuela, but would have to face justice in the courts for breaching his travel ban.[115] Guaidó announced that he planned to return to Venezuela despite the threats of imprisonment, and said Maduro's "regime" was "weak, lacking support in Venezuela and international recognition".[116]

Guaidó returned to Caracas from Panama via a commercial flight;[117] the Washington Post described his "triumphant return" to "wild cheers from supporters" at Venezuela's main airport at Maiquetía, Vargas state on 4 March.[118] He proceeded from the airport to an anti-government demonstration—organized in advance on social media—in Las Mercedes, Caracas, where he addressed a crowd of thousands,[117] offered a tribute to people who had lost their lives in the border clashes beginning on 23 February, and said that immigration officials had "greeted him at the airport with the words 'welcome, president'."[119] He added: "It is evident that after the threats, somebody did not follow orders. Many did not follow orders. The chain of command [in the government security forces] is broken", according to BBC.[119]

Other threats

During the March 2019 Venezuelan blackouts, Tarek Saab called for an investigation of Guaidó, alleging that he had "sabotaged" the electric sector; Guaidó said that Venezuela's largest-ever power outage was "the product of the inefficiency, the incapability, the corruption of a regime that doesn't care about the lives of Venezuelans".[120]

VP-DiosdadoC.jpg
Freddy Guevara y Leopoldo López.JPG
Julio Borges y Henrique Capriles.jpg
Top: Diosdado Cabello, Chavismo leader
middle: Leopoldo López and Freddy Guevara, both taking refuge in embassies
bottom: Julio Borges (in exile) and
Henrique Capriles (banned from holding office)

Roberto Marrero, Guaidó's chief of staff, was arrested by SEBIN during a raid on his home in the early morning hours of 21 March.[121] His attorney said he was to be charged with treason, usurpation of functions, and conspiracy.[122] The US had repeatedly warned Maduro not to go after Guaidó; Haaretz reported that the arrest of Guaidó's number-two person was a test of the US.[121] A risk consultant for London's IHS Markit, Diego Moya-Ocampos, said to Bloomberg that "the regime is testing the international community and its repeated warnings against laying a hand on Maduro's rival [Guaidó] ... if they can’t touch him, they'll go after those close to him."[123] Nicholas Watson of Teneo Intelligence told The Wall Street Journal that "Marrero's arrest looks like a desperate attempt to break Guaidó's momentum .. The weakness in the regime's position is visible in the fact that arresting Guaidó himself would be seen as a step too far."[124] Guaidó called it a "vile and vulgar kidnapping", adding "Either Nicolas Maduro doesn't dare to arrest me, or he's not the one giving orders."[123] According to The Wall Street Journal, Guaidó said he had received calls from security force officials disclaiming any involvement in the arrest; he replied that they need say no more, per the 2019 Venezuelan Amnesty Law; he said the "incident was indicative of divides within the Maduro regime".[124]

Following Guaidó's Latin American tour in February 2019, Elvis Amoroso, comptroller for the Maduro administration, alleged in March that Guaidó had not explained how he paid for the trip, and stated there were inconsistencies between his level of spending and income.[125] Amoroso said that Guaidó's 90 trips abroad had cost $94,000, and that Guaidó had not explained the source of the funds.[126] Based on these alleged financial discrepancies, Amoroso said Guaidó would be barred from running for public office for the maximum time allowed by law—fifteen years.[125][127] Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles had been prohibited from holding office by the Maduro administration on similar pretexts.[127]

Guaido responded that "The only body that can appoint a comptroller is the legitimate parliament."[127] The comptroller general is not a judicial body; according to constitutional lawyer José Vicente Haro, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in 2011, after Leopoldo López was barred from holding office, that an administrative body cannot disallow a public servant from running. Constitutional law expert Juan Manuel Raffalli stated that Article 65 of Venezuela's Constitution provides that such determinations may only be made by criminal courts, after judgment of criminal activity. The decision would also breach Guaidó's parliamentary immunity.[128]

On 1 April 2019, TSJ supreme justice Maikel Moreno (a political ally of Maduro)[129] asked that the Constituent National Assembly (ANC), "controlled by Chavismo" according to the BBC, remove Guaidó's parliamentary immunity as president of the National Assembly;[130] that is, he asked that they "strip [him] of immunity from prosecution", which moves the Maduro administration a step closer towards arresting and prosecuting Guaidó.[129][131] Maduro officials say that "Guaido is under investigation for inciting violence against the government and receiving illicit funds".[129] Moreno said the request is based upon Guaidó having attended the Venezuela Aid Live concert on 23 February, after the Maduro administration prohibited him from leaving the country;[130] the trip was approved by the National Assembly.[114] Supporters of Guaidó disagree that the Maduro-backed institutions have the authority to ban Guaidó from leaving the country, and consider acts of the ANC "null and void".[130] The Venezuelan Constitution provides that only the National Assembly can bring the president to trial by approving the legal proceeding in a "merit hearing";[130] Venezuela's constitution requires "authorization in advance from the National Assembly".[e][133] Constitutional lawyer Juan Manuel Raffalli said there is no breach to prosecute unless the National Assembly first approves one; he said the proceedings were intended to distract attention from the protests and collapse of public services, referencing the 2019 Venezuelan blackouts.[134]

Bypassing the National Assembly,[133] Moreno sent Guaidó's file to the president of the ANC, Diosdado Cabello—described by BBC Mundo as "one of the most belligerent Chavez leaders against the opposition"—for the decision to be made by that body.[130]

On 2 April, in a speech before the ANC, member María León proposed creating popular tribunals for trying "traitors", which the Miami Herald compared to those used during the Cuban revolution;[131] she argued that "for me stripping him of his immunity is very little. What do you do with traitors?"[133] ANC members "responded with shouts of al paredón ("put him up against a wall"),[133] referring to a firing squad.[131][135] Votes were not counted, rather voting was by a show of hands.[131] In record time (less than 30 hours from the TSJ proceedings),[136] the ANC voted to remove Guaidó's immunity from proesecution.[135] Following the decision, Guaidó promised to continue fighting "Maduro's 'cowardly, miserable and murderous' regime".[137] He said, "What if the regime intends to kidnap us? Well, of course, we know that they only have brute force left ... But we are left with audacity, intelligence, soul, strength of heart, hope and confidence in this country, in ourselves."[131]

Operation Freedom

Guaidó announced he would embark on a tour of the country beginning 16 March, to organize committees for Operación Libertad (trans. Operation Freedom or Operation Liberty) with the goal to claim the presidential residence, Miraflores Palace.[138] From the first rally in Carabobo state, he said, "We will be in each state of Venezuela and for each state we have visited the responsibility will be yours, the leaders, the united, [to] organize ourselves in freedom commands."[138]

As part of the ongoing tour, he visited Petare,[139] regarded as one of the world's largest slums, on 12 April.[140] In a surprise visit to the José Felix Ribas section of Petare, he brought water purification tablets to help children in a neighborhood soup kitchen.[141]

Leopoldo López appeared with Guaidó outside La Carlota Air Base in Caracas on 30 April,; the Associated Press reported that López "had been released from house arrest by security forces adhering to an order from Guaidó".[142] Guaidó live-streamed a video of himself beside López, with the two flanked by members of the Venezuelan armed forces,[143] announcing the "final phase" of Operation Freedom.[144] He stated: "People of Venezuela, it is necessary that we go out together to the street, to support the democratic forces and to recover our freedom. Organized and together, mobilize the main military units. People of Caracas, all to La Carlota".[143][145]

Expected military defections did not happen.[144] By the end of the day, one protester had died[146] and at least 100 were injured;[147][148] López was at the Spanish embassy,[149] while 25 military personnel sought asylum in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas.[150]

On 1 May, Guaidó's call for the largest march in history did not materialize and his supporters were forced to retreat by security forces using tear gas.[151] Guaidó acknowledged he had received insufficient military backing,[144] and called for strikes beginning on 2 May, with the aim of a general strike later in May.[151]

Domestic affairs

Guaidó and wife, Fabiana Rosales at a 2 February demonstration

In a 30 January New York Times editorial, Guaidó said,

We have one of the highest homicide rates in the world, which is aggravated by the government’s brutal crackdown on protesters. This tragedy has prompted the largest exodus in Latin American history, with three million Venezuelans now living abroad. ... Under Mr. Maduro at least 240 Venezuelans have been murdered at marches, and there are 600 political prisoners.[19]

He said his response to these problems was three-fold: restore the democratic National Assembly, gain international support, and allow for the people's right to self-determination.[19]

Amnesty Law

On 25 January, Guaidó offered an amnesty law, approved by the National Assembly, for military personnel and authorities who help unseat Maduro.[12] He suggested that if Maduro gives up power, he may receive amnesty.[153] Over his first weekend, he held another public assembly, asking supporters to disseminate the Amnesty Law throughout the country to military, police and other functionaries.[154][155] On 30 January, demonstrators took to the streets across the country to encourage the military to allow humanitarian aid and reject Maduro.[156] Maduro also held meetings with the military; top military command remains loyal to Maduro as of February 2019.[156]

In an editorial published by the New York Times on the evening of 30 January, Guaidó explained that the Amnesty Law would only apply to individuals who were not found to have committed crimes against humanity.[102]

Elections

Guaidó told CNN in February 2019 that he would call elections 30 days after Maduro leaves power.[157] He has not stated if he will run for president when elections occur,[64] but said that "talking about a presidential candidacy separates him from his role at this time".[158] IN another interview, he declared it was "premature" to consider if he would be running for president.[159]

The Statute Governing the Transition to Democracy to Re-establish the Validity of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: Estatuto que Rige la Transición a la Democracia para Restablecer la Vigencia de la Constitución de la República Bolivariana De Venezuela) was approved on 5 February,[160] and the National Assembly second vice-president Stalin González announced that a commission to set a route towards elections was established on 6 March 2019.[161]

Finance and economy

Guaidó asked the Bank of England and British Prime Minister Theresa May not to return to the Maduro administration the £1.2 billion in gold reserves the UK holds for Venezuela, and to allow the opposition to access it instead.[162][163] In the same week, the US Treasury levied sanctions against PDVSA[164] and transferred control of some Venezuelan assets to Guaidó.[13]

Guaidó said the Maduro administration was attempting to move some of the country's assets to Uruguay, "to keep stealing from the people of Venezuela".[165] On 5 February, Paparoni announced that the transfer from Portugal to Uruguay had been stopped.[166]

Guaidó seeks to open up the economy by allowing foreign, private oil companies greater participation in ventures with PDVSA;[167] the requirement for 51% PDVSA ownership in joint ventures would be dropped.[168] Pledging to honor "legal" and "financial" debt, Carlos Vecchio said that agreements in which Venezuela pays debt with oil (signed by the Maduro administration) may not be honored.[167]

Humanitarian aid

Guaidó and Sebastián Piñera, on 22 February 2019 at Venezuela Aid Live

In a Euronews interview, Guaidó said that hospitals in Venezuela lacked basic supplies and that "children were dying due to malnutrition".[64] He has made bringing humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who could die if aid does not arrive a priority, and a test of the military's allegiance.[169] The day after assuming the acting presidency, Guaidó requested humanitarian aid for Venezuela from the US and from the United Nations. Guaidó said Venezuela's neighbors, in a "global coalition to send aid to Venezuela", will help get humanitarian aid and medicine into the country; products will be shipped to neighboring ports and brought overland via convoys.[170] He said that the 250,000 people whose lives are in danger will be the recipients of the first phase of the humanitarian effort.[171] He traveled to Cúcuta on 22 February to be present as the aid entered Colombia; Maduro administration security forces clashed with demonstrators and blocked the aid from entering.[172]

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced in March 2019 that the Red Cross was preparing to bring humanitarian aid to the country in April to help ease both the chronic hunger and the medical crisis.[173] The Wall Street Journal said that the acceptance of humanitarian shipments by Maduro was his first acknowledgement that Venezuela is "suffering from an economic collapse".[174] Guaidó said the acceptance of humanitarian aid was the "result of our pressure and insistence",[174] and called on Venezuelans to "stay vigilant to make sure incoming aid is not diverted for 'corrupt' purposes".[175] Following the joint report from Human Rights Watch and Johns Hopkins in April 2019, increasing announcements from the United Nations about the scale of the humanitarian crisis, and the softening of Maduro's position on receiving aid, the Red Cross tripled its budget for aid to Venezuela.[176] The increased Red Cross aid would focus in four areas: the migration crisis, the health care system collapse, water and sanitation, and prisons and detention centers.[176]

Plan País

Guaidó announced on 31 January, before a packed theatre at the Central University of Venezuela,[177] that the National Assembly had approved a commission to implement a plan for the reconstruction of Venezuela.[178][179] Called Plan País (Plan for the Country), it has been under elaboration for some time, and was initially developed through a series of public and private meetings in the US and Venezuela.[180][181] According to Guaidó, the aims of the plan are to "stabilize the economy, attend to the humanitarian emergency immediately, rescue public services, and overcome poverty".[182] It has provisions to revitalize PDVSA, restore the health sector, and offer assistance to the most poverty-stricken.[177] Implementation of the plan requires Maduro's exit.[180]

Foreign affairs

Juan Guaidó with Colombian president Ivan Duque and US vice president Mike Pence in February 2019

Guaidó said there is room for long term Chávez/Maduro allies like Russia and China in Venezuela, adding that legal security under a new plan for the country would benefit all businesses, including theirs.[177][183] He has approached China to establish diplomatic ties, stating "China’s support will be very important in boosting our country’s economy and future development."[184] According to Euronews, he says he has been "working to convince China and Russia that it was in their economic interest to withdraw support from Maduro".[64] Bloomberg published a 14 April editorial from Guaidó, "Why China should switch sides in Venezuela", in which Guaidó appealed to China and stated that it is in China's interest to support a peaceful transition, rule of law and economic reconstruction in Venezuela.[185]

"The moment has come for Beijing to add its voice to this chorus. China’s influence in our region has grown tremendously over the past few years. It’s in its own interest to help bring about the climate of peace, stability and well-being to which we all aspire. If it does so, it will find a willing, open and more reliable partner in Caracas."[185]

According to CNN, following a long history of Fidel Castro's interest in the country, "Venezuelan oil is the lifeblood of Cuban economy, under a barter system where Cuba receives billions of dollars of crude in exchange for Cuban doctors, teachers, sports trainers, and military and intelligence advisers."[186] Guaidó has vowed that Cuban influence in Venezuela will end.[186] Referring to Cubans as "brothers", he said that Cuban individuals are welcome to stay in the country, but not in decision-making positions, and not in the armed forces.[187] On 12 March, the National Assembly voted to cut Venezuela's oil supply to Cuba, which would save about US$2.6 million daily, according to Guaidó,[188] who asked other nations to help implement the measure.[189]

Chávez had severed relations with Israel more than ten years ago, favoring support for Palestine during Operation Cast Lead; Guaidó seeks to restore relations with Israel.[190]

Guaidó has supported Venezuela's sovereignty claim of Guayana Esequiba.[191]

Military involvement

In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Guaidó did not rule out accepting support from the US armed forces, but said that pressure was being applied in every other way possible to avoid armed conflict.[192]

According to Giancarlo Fiorella, writing in Foreign Affairs, "calls for intervention" are coming from "some members of the Venezuelan opposition and from residents of the country desperate for a solution—any solution—to their years-long plight";[193] he adds that talk of foreign intervention "has become commonplace" in Venezuela, and that "the push for a military intervention in Venezuela is most intense not among hawks in Washington but inside the country itself".[193] In every demonstration summoned by Guaidó, there are numerous signs demanding the approval of Article 187(11) of the Constitution, which allows the National Assembly to authorize the deployment of foreign missions in Venezuela.[194] A March poll showed 87.5% support for foreign intervention.[f][193] Guaidó has said he will call for intervention "when the time comes", but in media interviews, he has not stated he supports removing Maduro by force.[193] He has said that the decision "cannot be taken lightly", and has appeared to "temper hopes ... [of] a magical solution to the country's problems", according to Fiorella.[193]

Political views

Guaidó is a member of the centrist social-democratic Popular Will and although his peers characterize Guaidó as a centrist, Maduro places him on the right of the political spectrum.[195][196] Regarding politics in the United States, Guaidó stated that he was unfamiliar with the subject, but has commented "What they refer to as socialist in the United States is what we’d call a Social Democrat here".[2]

Public perception

Prior to becoming the leader of the National Assembly, Guaidó was an unfamiliar figure to both the Venezuelan and international communities,[5][197] with BBC reporting that he was a compromise candidate selected as leader by opposition parties.[197] Venezuelan lawyer and columnist Gustavo Tovar-Arroyo [es], who was active with Guaidó in the early days of the student protests against Hugo Chávez, described Guaidó as one of the "conciliators" of the student movement, saying that Guaidó had been a force for conciliation in the defeat of Chávez's 2007 Venezuelan constitutional referendum, the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election in which PSUV was defeated by MUD, and that he was named [acting president] at a time when Venezuela needed conciliation.[198]

Argentine writer and journalist Andrés Oppenheimer said that Guaidó is "the most courageous and inspiring political figure that has emerged in Latin America in years".[199] Diego Moya-Ocampos, a Venezuela expert at risk analysts IHS Markit, described Guaidó as charismatic, saying that he had "unified a divided opposition".[200] He is known for "building unity among fellow legislators", according to a Bloomberg article.[1] Michael Shifter said that he "has tried to reach out to the military, tried to unify the opposition and tried to reach Chavista folks as well".[16] The Wall Street Journal quoted Father Alfredo Infante, a Jesuit priest in La Vega, who said that people in the barrios "feel connected to Guaidó in a way they haven't with other opposition leaders. He comes from a poor background, and looks like he belongs in the barrio."[201]

In April, Guaidó was named to Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world for 2019.[202] Former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos wrote the profile for Time, which described Guaidó as "young, energetic, articulate, determined" and in possession of "the mother of all virtues: courage." Santos said that "by being in the right place at the right time, [Guaidó] was able to finally unite the opposition and become a beacon of hope for a country that is yearning for a rapid and peaceful change."[202]

Writing in The Nation, political scientist George Ciccariello-Maher called Guaidó a "second-string politician" who "simply declared himself acting president" in a brazen power grab.[203] Emily Thornberry, British MP and Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, expressed skepticism that simply replacing Maduro would solve all of Venezuela's problems, "let alone the kind of US intervention being threatened by Donald Trump and [...] John Bolton."[163] Ronal Rodriguez, an expert at the University of Rosario’s Venezuelan Observatory in Colombia, said that Guaidó is seen as "third-rate" and "uncharismatic". Rodriguez argued that photographs of Guaidó at public addresses made him appear like Venezuela's Barack Obama, but that Guaidó "clearly lacks the former American president’s political skill."[204] The Guardian noted that Guaidó had used the same "rallying cry" as Obama's "Yes we can": "Sí, se puede!".[177]

In neighboring Colombia, polls conducted in February and March 2019 showed 70[205] to 80%[206] of Colombians had favorable views of Guaidó.[205][206]

Polls

Reuters in 2013 described Venezuelan polls as being "notoriously controversial and divergent".[207] The Wall Street Journal described Datanálisis as "a respected pollster in Venezuela" in March 2019.[201] According to a Meganálisis poll published in May 2019, the perception of Guaidó as president by Venezuelans declined after the failed uprising attempt of 30 April 2019.[208][209]

Polling company Dates Location Number
polled
Results
Hercon Consultores[210] 8–17 May 2019 Venezuela 1,000 70.3% recognized Guaidó as president, 12.1% recognized Maduro as president, 8.8% were undecided and 8.7% did not answer
Meganálisis[209][211] 2–4 May 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,120 49.8% recognized Guaidó as president, 35.4% do not know who is president, 10.5% recognized neither Guaidó nor Maduro as president, 4.2% recognized Maduro as president
Hercon Consultores[212] 1–4 April 2019 Venezuela 1,000 77.9% recognized Guaidó as president, 14.5% said Maduro was president, 7.5% undecided
Meganálisis[208] 28–30 March 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,040 54.9% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 26.1% do not know who is president, 12.3% recognized neither Guaidó nor Maduro as president, 6.6% say Maduro is president
Meganálisis[208][213] 11–14 March 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,100 63.3% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 22.5% do not know who is president, 9.1% recognized neither Guaidó nor Maduro as president, 5.0% say Maduro is president
Datanálisis[214] Published
2 March 2019
Venezuela Guaidó approval at 61%; Maduro approval at 14% (an all-time low)

In an election, Guaidó would win 77% to Maduro's 23%

Hercon Consultores[215] Published March 2019 Venezuela 1,000 73.4% recognized Guaidó as president, 15.7% did not recognize Guaidó as president, 10.8% undecided
Hercon Consultores[216] 24–27 February 2019 Venezuela 1,000 80.3% recognized Guaidó as president, 14.3% did not recognize Guaidó as president, 5.3% undecided
Consultores 21[217] 19–20 February 2019 8 Venezuelan states, Capital District 300 54% recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president, 35% recognized Maduro as legitimate president, 11% we undecided
Meganálisis[208][218][219] 13–16 February 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,250 78.9% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 16.8% undecided, 4.2% say Maduro is president
Datincorp[220] 10 February 2019 Venezuela 1,200 49.33% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 33.81% say Maduro is president
Meganálisis[208][221] 4–6 February 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,020 82.9% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 13.5% undecided, 3.5% say Maduro is president
Meganálisis[222][223] 30 January –
1 February 2019
16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
1,030 84.6% recognized Guaidó as acting president, 11.2% undecided, 4.1% say Maduro is president
Hercon Consultores[224] 25–30 January 2019 Venezuela 999 81.9% recognized Guaidó as president, 13.4% said Maduro was president, 4.6% undecided
Meganálisis[225] 24–25 January 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
870 83.7% recognized Guaidó as president, 11.4% undecided, 4.8% recognized Maduro as president
Meganálisis[226] 19–20 January 2019 16 Venezuelan states,
32 cities
900 81.4% hoped that Guaidó would be sworn in on 23 January, 84.2% supported a transitional government to replace Maduro's government
Hercon Consultores[227] 15–19 January 2019 Venezuela 1,100 79.9% agreed with Maduro leaving the presidency. To the National Assembly swearing in Guaidó as acting president, 68.6% agreed and 19.4% disagreed.

Electoral history

2015 parliamentary vote

Candidate Party Votes % Result
Milagros Eulate MUD 98 530
26.29%
Deputy
Juan Guaidó MUD 97 492
26.01%
Deputy
María Carneiro PSUV 84 872
22.64%
Not elected
José Pinto PSUV 83 462
22.27%
Not elected
Jesús Sánchez DR 2098
0.55%
Not elected
Estela Romero DR 1886
0.55%
Not elected
Disqualified votes 35 569
8.66%
Total valid votes 374 773
74.64%

2012 MUD primary

Candidate Party Votes % Result
José Manuel Olivares PJ 17547
61.1%
Nomination
Juan Guaidó VP 5184
18.1%
Not elected
Salomón Bassim PJ 2280
7.9%
Not elected
Arquímides Rivero GDV 1819
6.3%
Not elected
Ramón Díaz Ind. 1625
5.7%
Not elected
Luis Pino CC 264
0.9%
Not elected
Total valid votes 28 719

2010 parliamentary vote

Candidate Party Votes % Result
Oswaldo Vera PSUV 84 241
54.82%
Deputy
Simón Escalona Reserve deputy
Bernardo Guerra MUD 66 553
43.31%
Deputy
Juan Guaidó Reserve deputy
Others 2865
1.81%
Disqualified votes 4352
2.75%
Total valid votes 153 659
63.86%

Notes

  1. ^ The Washington Post says Guaidó is one of eight siblings;[15] Bloomberg says he is one of seven;[1] The Wall Street Journal says he is one of six.[16]
  2. ^ The Washington Post says his father was an airline pilot;[15] The Wall Street Journal says his father was a cab driver;[16] La Patilla says his father, Wilmer Guaidó, escaped from Venezuela's chavismo and worked driving a taxi in Tenerife, Spain, but that he was an airline pilot in Venezuela.[17]
  3. ^ In 2018, it was the Popular Will Party's turn to hold the leadership in a position that is rotated among the opposition coalition.[35]
  4. ^ Professor of Political Science at Amherst College, author, and journal editor.[42]
  5. ^ See Article 200 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.[132]
  6. ^ Foreign Affairs states "this figure is likely inflated—the surveys do not define what a military intervention under 187(11) would look like.[193]

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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Omar Barboza
President of the National Assembly of Venezuela
2019–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Nicolas Maduro
Acting President of Venezuela
disputed with Maduro

2019–present