US backs Venezuelan opposition leader

The United States has taken an almost unprecedented step of officially declaring its support of an opposition candidate in Venezuela, following 35-year-old Juan Guaido’s public announcement that he is now the interim president.

The BBC reports that a number of South American nations, “including Brazil, Colombia and Peru, have also recognised Mr Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president”.

In a televised statement, US Vice President Mike Pence called on Venezuelan citizens to “make your voices heard” against President Nicolas Maduro, whom he called a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power,” Bloomberg says.

“The announcement came as thousands of Guaido backers took to the streets in a revitalized effort against Maduro, whose military response to the widespread demonstrations seemed more measured than in the past,” says CNN.

The BBC reports that under Manduro, “hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of basic items have driven millions of people out of Venezuela”.

Maduro was sworn in for a second term earlier this month. However the election was marred by a boycott from opposition parties and widespread claims of vote rigging.

Maduro responded to the US calls to back Guaido by giving the US and its diplomatic staff 72 hours to leave the country.

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