Opposition Leader Declares Himself Venezuela’s President

January 24, 2019 - 1:2

In the most direct challenge yet to President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, opposition leader Juan Guaidó swore himself in as interim president Wednesday as tens of thousands gathered in anti-government protests nationwide.

President Trump quickly recognized Mr. Guaidó as the interim leader of Venezuela, adding new fuel to the turmoil convulsing the impoverished country, once one of Latin America’s most prosperous.

“The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Mr. Trump said in a White House statement.

As crowds in the Caracas central square converged and sang the national anthem, Mr. Guaidó declared: “Today, January 23, 2019, I swear to formally assume the powers of the national executive as president in charge of Venezuela.”

The opposition, after years of division, has largely united behind Mr. Guaidó. He called for Wednesday’s protests, has offered to lead a transitional government and to hold new elections if Mr. Maduro steps down.

The demonstrations are part of a renewed push to oust Mr. Maduro by Venezuela’s opposition, The opposition is hoping that a significant turnout on Wednesday will help persuade the nation’s military to break ranks with the president, which would be crucial to ousting him.

Opposition leaders hope the effort to oust Mr. Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term on Jan. 10.

(Source: NY Times)