A new parliament is being sworn in today, Tuesday, January 5, 2021, in Venezuela. For the past couple of years, Juan Guaido and President Nicolas Maduro have been fighting for the right to claim the presidency of the country.
On January 23, 2019, Guaido proclaimed himself interim president. This bold step marked a turning point in the political crisis in recession-hit Venezuela causing protests against Maduro as Guaido’s popularity soared to around 80 percent. Maduro, however, refused to cede, and the standoff continues to this day.
Maduro was described as a dictator who was subject to Western sanctions while Guaido was recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by over 50 countries around the world initially including the United States, that is until Trump stepped in.
Trump openly stated that he did not have much confidence in Guaido, even as his own administration including Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Pompeo invested a huge amount of energy in supporting Guaido. However, the US recognized Guaido shortly after he assumed the interim presidency.
Of the 277 seat in parliament, Maduro allies won 256 after last month’s legislative elections were boycotted by main opposition parties led by Guaido. Maduro retains the support of Venezuela’s powerful military and every branch of government that was able to exercise actual power. Only the National Assembly was beyond his grasp, until now.
Effective today, Guaido will no longer hold the position of National Assembly speaker, as last month the outgoing parliament passed a decree allowing itself to continue functioning in parallel with the new Maduro-majority chamber until fresh elections are held in 2021.
This morning before the swearing in ceremony, lawmakers arrived at the National Assembly building carrying pictures of South American revolutionary hero Simon Bolivar and late socialist president Hugo Chavez.
According to a statement made by Benigno Alarcon, Director of the Center of Politics and Government at Venezuela’s Andres Bello Catholic University, he does not think this duality of power will continue for much longer. He added that Maduro has control of the country through force and a firm grip on all state institutions which means he could use COVID-19 restrictions on movement to ban any possible protests against his rule.
Guaido’s opposition mobilization is losing power. Despite the large number of opposition protestors from 2019, a referendum-style consultation he called in December for people to condemn the December 6 vote and Maduro failed.
Now as Democrat Joe Biden is set to be inaugurated as the new President of the United States, it remains to be seen what will unfold as far as support for Venezuela from America goes.