CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro on Wednesday faced the gravest challenge to his authority since assuming power in 2013, as the U.S.-backed opposition claimed the legitimate mantle of leadership, and President Trump promptly recognized him as Venezuela’s interim president.
The dramatic developments came as anti-Maduro protests drew hundreds of thousands of people into Venezuelan streets.
“Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela,” Trump said in a statement.
In a clearly orchestrated response, most of the big Latin American countries have jumped on board:
Countries recognising Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president:
– Costa Rica
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) January 23, 2019
Mexico is the big exception.
I’m feeling very “meh” about this. Maduro is bad, and is holding onto power through means that we would generally regard as illegitimate. The United States shouldn’t invade Venezuela to depose him, shouldn’t send an assassination team, and shouldn’t arrange a military coup. Orchestrating a diplomatic campaign to render Maduro illegitimate? A step farther than I would have gone, but the problem of Venezuela was beginning to ripple across its borders. It could go bad! But then the status quo is also bad. It does seem likely that, whatever the general thrust of US policy will be, the Trump administration will catastrophically fuck things up; that’s what happens when you gut State and have an incredibly dysfunctional decision-making process.