Venezuela's Juan Guaido struggles to maintain unity of opposition

The Maduro camp negotiated with small parties an agreement providing for the return of Chavist deputies to the National Assembly. "Le Monde" met the self-proclaimed "acting president" in Caracas.

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on 19 September in Caracas.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on 19 September in Caracas. MANAURE QUINTERO / REUTERS

"There will be no rapid political transition," sighs in Caracas, a Latin American diplomat. The hope raised by Juan Guaido, the speaker of Parliament who proclaimed himself "interim president" on January 23, soon recognized by Washington and fifty countries, has largely fallen. In a country devastated by the economic crisis, Nicolas Maduro continues to govern. Juan Guaido is struggling to maintain his leadership and the unity of his side.

On the right, the most radical dream of a US military intervention. At the center, Democrats continue to believe in the possibility and necessity of a negotiated transition. Mr. Guaido seems to hesitate. The discredit is installed. "Maduro and Guaido vie for power, but neither of us cares about the country" The phrase often comes up in the words of Venezuelans, desperate by the difficulties of daily life. More than four million of them have already chosen to live in exile: by their remittances, they are living a country immensely rich in oil, where the minimum monthly wage is now below $ 1.90 (1.70 euro). US sanctions imposed by Washington further aggravate the situation.

"We never said that overcoming a dictatorship would be an easy task, sighs the young leader, sitting in his huge empty offices in Caracas. To listen to him, "The usurper government is only holding by force and repression, it is cornered". But Maduro, who has just returned from an official visit to Moscow, does not seem worried. His number two, Diosdado Cabello, was in North Korea.

Trading, "the only solution"

The opposition qualifies as"Usurper" the head of state who, reelected in May 2018 after a vote marred by irregularities, began in January a new term of six years. The action line defined at the beginning of the year is therefore still relevant: "End of the usurpation, transitional government, transparent and free elections. " Juan Guaido repeats it as a mantra.

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"Born of the democratically elected National Assembly, Mr. Guaido enjoys the support of the vast majority of Venezuelans and the support of Western countries," he said.Hiram Gaviria from the opposition coalition. And to recall that the young president of the Assembly is conducting his political fight in difficult circumstances: twenty-five opposition deputies are incarcerated or in exile. The power controls all means of communication. Unable to leave his country, Mr. Guaido did not make the trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.


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