The self-declared interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó has proposed an offer of amnesty to the ruling President Nicolas Maduro and the country’s armed forces if they peacefully step down from power and help transition the nation into a democracy. Guaidó currently enjoys the support of the U.S. and a number of its allies.
After two decades of being ruled by a socialist government that has wreaked havoc in Venezuela, the country now has a chance to recover, thanks to the 35-year-old Juan Guaidó. Prior to January 10, 2019, Guaidó was largely unknown. But as he challenged Maduro’s presidency, declaring it illegitimate and positioning himself as the interim president of the country, Guaidó became a superstar overnight.
Maduro “won” the Venezuelan presidential election in May 2018, something that several human rights agencies have declared to be a sham. Since free speech and open nominations of candidates were curtailed, opposition parties boycotted the election. As a consequence, the country saw the lowest voter turnout in its history and Maduro became president for a second term. Hence, not many people actually see it as a proper democratic election.
Guaidó enjoys massive support from the public. The country is reeling under severe economic problems like inflation, food shortages, and unemployment. A basket of basic necessities like water, cheese, ham, fruit, and nuts is said to cost an astronomical US$200 in the country. Eggs and bread are absent from many supermarkets. People believe that Guiadó is the only one who can put an end to the repressive Maduro regime and deliver them from the hardship.
However, Guaidó has offered Maduro and his allies amnesty if they let the country transition into a democracy. “Our people have suffered… We are waking up from a nightmare to the dream of rebuilding Venezuela… We are ready to do what is necessary to see democracy,” he said to CNN.
After Guaidó declared himself the interim President of Venezuela, the U.S. administration extended their full support.
“I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the Interim President of Venezuela. In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant… I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” U.S. President Trump said in a statement (White House).
Meanwhile, Maduro has accused Guaidó of collaborating with the U.S. to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela and has warned that President Trump would be at fault for any bloodshed in the country. However, the public in Venezuela does not seem to be buying Maduro’s fear mongering. Tired of his repressive rule that has left innumerable Venezuelans in poverty and extreme hunger, many of them are actually happy that the U.S. is supporting Guaidó. Venezuelans who have migrated to America are also excited at the turn of events over the past few weeks.
“Our families are extremely excited to be in the streets… One of our family members said it very simple: ‘What do we have to lose?’ We’ve got nothing else to lose. We are dying of hunger, we’re dying of not having basic medicine. Children don’t have the nutrition to live, so there’s nothing to lose,” Fernando Torres, President of Casa de Venezuela in Philadelphia, said to Al Dia.
The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company in order to put further pressure on Maduro and oust him from power. Israel, Australia, and most of the countries in South America are also supporting Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela.