President Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela on Wednesday, amid massive rallies throughout the country with citizens protesting against the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro.
The 35-year-old Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled congress, raised his right hand in unison with tens of thousands of supporters and took a symbolic oath before God to assume executive powers he says are his right under Venezuela’s constitution and take over the presidency until new elections can be called.
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“We know that this will have consequences,” he told the cheering crowd. “To be able to achieve this task and to re-establish the constitution we need the agreement of all Venezuelans.”
Moments later, the Trump administration issued its statement, saying “the people of Venezuela have courageously spoken against Maduro and his regime and demand freedom and the rule of law.”
“I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” the statement said. “We encourage other Western Hemisphere governments to recognize National Assembly President Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela, and we will work constructively with them in support of his efforts to restore constitutional legitimacy.”
In a tweet, Trump added: “The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime”
The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.
Vice President Mike Pence @VP
Today @POTUS announced the U.S. officially recognizes Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela. To @JGuaido & the people of Venezuela: America stands with you & we will continue to stand with you until #Libertad is restored!
On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans hit the streets in massive and widespread demonstrations against Maduro’s government. The demonstrators, shouting phrases such as “Get out Maduro!” say they’re fed up with spiraling inflation, a shortage of basic good and a migration crisis dividing families.