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Things to Know About Venezuelan Opposition Leader Recognised as President by US

© AFP 2023 / Federico PARRAVenezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido waves to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's "acting president", on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019.
Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido waves to the crowd during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro in which he declared himself the country's acting president, on the anniversary of a 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, in Caracas on January 23, 2019. - Sputnik International
US President Donald Trump has announced that Washington recognises Juan Guaido as the “rightful head” of Venezuela in a move that has been fiercely blasted by President Nicolas Maduro as a coup attempt.

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.

READ MORE: Venezuela Crisis: What We Know So far as US, Number of Countries Back Opposition

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.

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In 1999, when Guaido was only 15, severe torrential rains caused flash floods and debris flows in the state of Vargas that left tens of thousands of people dead and thousands of others homeless, including his family.

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.

Getting Political

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).

READ MORE: Pompeo: US to Take Actions Against Anyone Who Endangers Personnel in Venezuela

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.

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In 2009, Guaido, along with another opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, became one of founding members of the political party Popular Will in response to alleged violations of individual freedom and human rights.

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.

READ MORE: Venezuela's Supreme Court Disavows Guaido as Congress Head

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.

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On 15 January, he penned an article, headlined “Maduro is a usurper. It’s time to restore democracy in Venezuela”, for The Washington Post, in which described the “unprecedented” crisis in the South American country. A week later, the National Assembly accused Maduro of “usurping” power and declared all of his decisions void.

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.

READ MORE: Trump Recognises Venezuela’s Opp Leader Juan Guaido as Acting President (VIDEOS)

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.

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