President Trump recognized Venezuela’s opposition party leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of the poverty-stricken country on Wednesday, promising to use the “full weight” of U.S. power to press for the restoration of democracy in the country.
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In response, President Nicolás Maduro said he is breaking diplomatic relations with the U.S. and gave personnel 72 hours to leave the country.
Countries around the globe have called Maduro an illegitimate dictator. Maduro began his second term as president last week following controversial and contested elections over the summer.
Guaidó, who serves as leader of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, called for protests on Wednesday, as the country spirals deeper into a severe economic crisis. The opposition-controlled Congress published a report stating the inflation rate rose more than 833,997 percent over the past year. The International Monetary Fund cautions inflation could reach 10 million percent in 2019.
As the opposition, gaining momentum, moves to oust Maduro, here’s what you need to know about Guaidó.
Guaidó is only 35 years old. He was a relatively unknown man on either the domestic or global stage until this month – when he was sworn in as president of the National Assembly. Last week he gained more recognition when he said he was prepared to act as interim president until fair elections could be carried out in Venezuela.
He was detained over the weekend for less than an hour, which seemed to strengthen his position among supporters.
Guaidó has invoked protocol that can be legally taken under the country’s constitution whereby the head of the assembly can become national leader if the office of the president is wrongfully taken.
What he wants:
Among his promises to the people as acting leader of the country – in addition to helping facilitate new elections – are taking steps to restore the country’s ailing economy and distributing aid. Residents are plagued by food shortages and a lack of access to health care, among other basic necessities.
He has called out the current administration’s policies for creating a state of “terror” and pushed for Venezuelans to “dream of democracy, and for a better country.”
Guaidó is an industrial engineer, but public interest in his political persona has risen quickly. Recently the young leader tripled his Twitter following to 334,000, according to The Washington Post.
Prior to his current post, Guaidó served as an elected legislator in one of Venezuela’s 23 states in 2015. He also took part in a 2007 student protest of then-President Hugo Chávez.
His parents were a pilot and a teacher. Guaidó grew up in a family of eight children, the Post reported.
In an exclusive interview, Vice President Mike Pence will join FOX Business' Trish Regan at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Venezuela.