What happens next for Venezuela? Two presidents, 1,000,000% inflation and sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves with a ruined economy.
US President Donald Trump is the latest world leader to recognise Juan Guaido as the country’s rightful interim president.
He fell into place alongside the European Union and Britain, who pledged their support a few days earlier. Canada and most of Latin America have already plumped for Guaido.
“The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime,” Donald Trump tweeted as he announced what some believe could prove a game-changing decision.
Later a White House official expanded on the theme and explained ‘Maduro and his cronies’ need to accept they have no future in government and that an exit strategy was their next step.
The usual suspect has lined up to back the incumbent Nicolas Maduro – Russia. President Vladimir Putin is enjoying his chance to land Soviet bombers in America’s back yard.
Maduro seems to have increasingly spent time with his army, perhaps as a veiled threat to Guaido and his allies that he can resort to armed force if necessary.
In response to the US announcement, Maduro has broken diplomatic ties and expelled all embassy personnel in the country.
“We are defending the right to the very existence of our Bolivarian Republic,” Maduro said, accusing the US of trying to steal Venezuela’s oil, gas and gold.
“They intend to govern Venezuela from Washington. Do you want a puppet government controlled by Washington?” he said.
Fuel drought irony
The likely next step is for Maduro to arrest Guaido and his opposition leaders and for the US to ratchet up sanctions to stress the Venezuela economy even more.
For ordinary people, the cost of food and medicine is astronomical, with a handful of potatoes costing half a month’s salary.
Hundreds of thousands have fled to neighbouring Colombia or cross the borders each day to buy fuel and supplies.
It seems ironic that one of the world’s oil rich nations is facing a fuel drought with millions of barrels of crude beneath the feet of demonstrators in the capital Caracas.