Juan Guaido, the man who challenged the Venezuelan President

Juan Guaido. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

In less than a month, Juan Guaido has gone from a virtual unknown in Venezuelan politics to the country’s most-watched figure, assuming the presidency of the Opposition-controlled congress and briefly being detained by the secret police.

On Wednesday, the skinny 35-year-old from the South American country’s hardscrabble Caribbean coast thrust himself onto the international stage with the boldest challenge to socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s rule in years: he declared himself interim President.


His rapid ascent triggered debates that he could fill a leadership vacuum in Venezuela’s notoriously divided Opposition, which has failed in several attempts to oust Mr. Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Mr. Guaido needs the backing of the armed forces to achieve his goal of forcing new elections. “Today in Venezuela, we are living under a dictatorship, and we need to put on enough pressure to take control,” Mr. Guaido, the grandson of National Guard and Navy officers, had said in an interview with Reuters this week.

Proposing amnesty

He has proposed an amnesty for members of the military, but said members of the Maduro government who committed human rights violations should be punished.

Mr. Guaido took the helm of the National Assembly on January 5 with a call for the armed forces to recognise Mr. Maduro as a “usurper” after his controversial May 2018 re-election vote.

The eldest of six children from a working-class family in the coastal State of Vargas, Mr. Guaido survived a devastating 1999 mudslide.

He received a Master’s in Public Administration from George Washington University in the U.S.

Representing Vargas for Popular Will, Mr. Guaido assumed the Parliament’s leadership as part of a power-sharing agreement between Venezuela’s main Opposition parties. He has said little about what policies he would pursue as President, but Popular Will describe themselves as centre-left social democrats.

Mr. Guaido was detained by intelligence agents last week, but was swiftly released. Government officials said the officers responsible would be punished.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 3:21:40 AM |

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