Opposition Leader of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó was sworn in as interim president following claims of a“fraudulent” election by Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó declared that he will remain president until a “free and fair election” can take place. Washington has called on the world to “pick a side” after backing Guaidó in hopes of a democratic Venezuela.
Democratic leaders from around the world denounced the results of the election with the United States calling it a sham. Chile’s president Sebastian Pinera tweeted “[the vote] does not represent the free and sovereign will of the people.”
“Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” declared U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a UN Security Council.
Maduro, heir to the late Hugo Chavez, proclaimed the election marked a “historic day, the day of a beautiful victory” and a win against U.S. imperialism. “Never before has a presidential candidate taken 68 percent of the popular vote,” he said outside of the presidential palace in Caracas. “We are the force of history turned into a permanent popular victory.”
Claudio Fermin, the campaign chief of Maduro’s main political rival Henri Falcon, documented over 900 cases of voting irregularities, and senior party members of the opposition were blocked from running.
While Guaidó has the support of pro-democracy countries and most of Latin America, Maduro’s regime continues to be backed by Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Bolivia and Cuba. Turkey strongly condemned the U.S.’ role in the division. Former senior diplomat Aydin Selcen said the people of Turkey believe the U.S. is behind a military invention much like Libya, Egypt and Iraq.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the opposition. “Now, there is a coup attempt in Venezuela, which we oppose once again. No matter where it happens, we will never side with the coup-plotters. If we believe in and support democracy, then respecting ballot boxes is what we need.”
Max Klaver, a senior analyst at Foreign Brief—a geopolitical risk analysis website—told Al Jazeera he believes there is little the international community can do for Venezuela without hurting the public.
Peter Dobson, a Venezuelan political analyst, told Al Jazeera the reason for U.S.’ interests in Venezuela could be summed up in one word: oil. He added, “The control of the oil resources in Venezuela, as well as the diamonds, the gold, the water, the gas and a whole range of natural resources, is massively important for the U.S. and [their] geostrategic interests across the world.”
The election results spurred the revolt of 27 National Guardsmen who took to the streets of Caracas to incite the residents to protest the regime after raiding a military command post. The rebellion was immediately quelled and the officers are being questioned. It is unclear if a firefight ensued or if the officers laid down their arms.