Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself president – a move backed by the United States and other major countries, leading to President Nicolás Maduro ordering American diplomats out of Venezuela.
The current political situation has been years in the making, with crises happening across the board – in terms of the economy, food shortages, poor healthcare facilities and increasing crime.
As detailed by the New York Times here, Venezuela once had Latin America’s richest economy, buoyed by massive oil reserves. However, under Maduro and his predecessor and mentor, Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013, the country’s economy spiralled into corruption and debt.
The move by Guaidó to declare himself president came as thousands of rival protesters jammed the streets of Caracas, at times clashing with riot police. It also capped days of political drama that has seen 13 people killed in two days of unrest, the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict told AFP.
Thousands of Venezuelans abroad — from Madrid to Lima to Santiago in Chile — welcomed Guaidó’s pronouncement.
“I swear to formally assume the national executive powers as acting president of Venezuela to end the usurpation, (install) a transitional government.