Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself in as Venezuela’s interim president, relying on a provision in the country’s constitution that boots President Nicolas Maduro from the presidency and allows Guaido to take control of the country.
Immediately after Guaido took an oath of office in the midst of protests against Maduro, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Guaido as the new president. Several other countries followed America’s lead, including Canada, Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, reported i24 News.
However, a spokesperson for the Mexican government said that the country still recognizes Maduro as the reigning president of Venezuela and not Guaido. According to i24 News, Mexico has kept its distance from Venezuela while President Lopez Obrador has been at the helm. A leftist who assumed office in December, Obrador said his foreign policy is “based on the principle of non-intervention in other countries’ affairs.”
The White House is observing how things transpire after this turn of events. Thousands of Venezuelans flooded the streets to protest both the current president and show support of the new one. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence issued a statement of support for those opposed to Madura.
As the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad. pic.twitter.com/ThzIAqBoRn— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 22, 2019
Venezuelan police reported the deaths of four people during the protests and rioting, including a 16-year-old who had sustained a firearm injury in the capital of Caracas. Three other deaths occurred in Bolivar City from rebels looting during the unrest, reported i24 News.
Dozens of protesters set fire to a statue of socialist revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez who reigned prior to Maduro, which was located in San Felix in the state of Bolivar.
A group of soldiers commandeered a post north of the capital as a show of solidarity against Maduro. They published a video on social media urging people to join them in the streets. Police and armed forces quickly snuffed out their attempts, i24 News reported. Approximately 27 people were arrested, but that quickly instigated an estimated 30 additional protests around Caracas.
Maduro’s presidency has been controversial from the start. The second election he won in May was boycotted by the opposition and considered to be illegal by the European Union, U.S., and other Latin American countries, i24 News reported.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio took to Twitter to express his support for the anti-Maduro groups and Guaido.
“Tonight please pray for [Juan Guaidó] and the thousands of Venezuelans who will face danger and difficulty in the hours ahead. May God give them strength. And may he change the hearts of military leaders so that they protect not repress their fellow countrymen,” Rubio tweeted.