Venezuela’s six years of crisis
February 4, 2019 -- Nine European nations have now joined the United States in recognising opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president, heightening a global showdown over President Nicolas Maduro's rule.
As head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Guaidó says the constitution allows him to assume power temporarily when the president is deemed illegitimate.
Guaidó has become the international symbol of Venezuela’s revolt, projecting an image of stability in a crisis fuelled by skyrocketing hyperinflation, shortages of food and medicine and political strife.
His rise is due in large part to his mentor, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who is a political prisoner under house arrest that bars him from politics.
In 2015, Lopez was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in a military prison on charges including inciting violence. He was released to house arrest in July 2017.
Though he’s prevented from leaving his property, the 47-year-old former presidential candidate is in regular contact with Guidó as well as foreign heads of state.
Lopez is using Skype calls and encrypted messages, from his home in Caracas, to organise street protests and international allies.