Thursday marks one year since Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself the country’s legitimate president. But Guaidó’s movement has stalled – and so he’s gone to Europe to help jumpstart it again.
The U.S. and more than 50 other countries supported Guaidó, Venezuela's National Assembly leader, when he claimed the country’s presidency on January 23, 2019. They determined - rightly, according to Venezuela legal experts - that authoritarian socialist President Nicolás Maduro had been re-elected unconstitutionally and fraudulently.
But Guaidó’s campaign to oust Maduro’s regime has lost the momentum and global enthusiasm it enjoyed then. Missteps have weakened his opposition leadership – and Maduro, who is widely blamed for the worst economic collapse in the world today, remains entrenched in power.
So Guaidó has taken an urgent new gambit this week. Though he’s officially barred from leaving Venezuela, he snuck out first to neighboring Colombia, where he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and he's now in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. There he hopes to convince global leaders to do more to help his democratic cause.
He told CNN he’s urging European governments in particular to tighten economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government. He wants them, for example, to more forcefully boycott Venezuela’s so-called “blood gold.”
One aim is to get Maduro to agree to new presidential elections – which polls say he’d lose.