Photo: El Universal retrieved

“There’s no doubt: Nicolás Maduro is an usurper. Therefore, I want to talk to the people of Venezuela to propose a plan,” said Juan Guaidó, Speaker of the National Assembly, in front of around 1,500 eager spectators, who cheered loudly in the open assembly.

“Yesterday, we bore witness to the international community’s support. They recognize the legitimacy of this elected Parliament, elected by more than 14 million people.The world isn’t going to be part of Maduro’s charade.”

The meeting didn’t start on time — but that goes without saying. The crowd waited for an hour and a half for the speakers to appear and do their thing. There was a lot more people than I expected, though, and when Juan Guaidó finally took the podium, it was like The New President of Venezuela had taken the stage. Massive cheers, with people actually calling him that way. Everyone seemed hungry for a chief.

More than hopeful, he seemed combative. He repeated the call made yesterday to the people and the Armed Forces: “This table cannot stand without all its legs: we’re talking to the military family, who also suffers this crisis. We call on the Armed Forces, who need to assume the responsibility. There’s someone usurping the presidency, someone who broke the chain of command, and you know it.”

“As President of the National Assembly, the only elected and legitimate power to represent the Venezuelan people, I have a responsibility to Venezuela: I stand by the Constitution and its Articles 233, 333 and 350, which gives me the legitimacy to exercise the office of the Presidency of the Republic, to call free elections and summon the people, the Armed Forces and the international community to make it a reality. But is it enough to stand by the Constitution in a dictatorship? It’s not. We call on the people of Venezuela and the Armed Forces to help us lead the way to assume the constitutional mandate.”

Many seemed confused by Guaidó’s message today. Some called it weak, unclear (“so is he president or not?”).

But, if you were expecting the guy to grab an improvised presidential sash and strap it across his chest, at a cabildo público, of all places, perhaps it’s time to bring it down a notch or two. He didn’t take office, but he did call for the right influences to build support for him to do so. Soon.

María Corina, your turn.

You’re not president just because you say so, and Guaidó knows it.

Adding considerable confusion, Luis Almagro welcomed him as interim President of Venezuela, in accordance with Article 233 of the National Constitution, and expressed the support of the international community.

“We summon the people to the streets,” Guaidó said, surrounded by his partners from his own, and other opposition parties and organizations, including Rafaela Requesens (brother of jailed deputy, Juan Requesens), Nicmer Evans, Marlon Díaz, Miguel Pizarro, William Dávila, and others. “We have to fight together: nurses, students, doctors, civilians.”

This is the first time in nearly two years that the National Assembly makes an open call to the people to protest against Maduro’s regime. Guaidó called on everyone to protest this January 23, iconic date in Venezuelan democracy, and only time will tell if the effects of this episode resemble somehow those of 1958.

 

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