Venezuela’s President Guaidó Thanks Trump for State of the Union Support

Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido declares himself the country's "acting president" during a mass opposition rally against leader Nicolas Maduro, on the anniversary of the 1958 uprising that overthrew military dictatorship, in Caracas on Wednesday. | Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

Interim President Juan Guaidó of Venezuela took to Twitter Wednesday to thank American President Donald Trump and the American people generally for their support during Tuesday’s State of the Union Address.

Guaidó took office in Venezuela two weeks ago replacing dictator Nicolás Maduro, who still controls the nation’s military and has refused to leave the presidential palace in Caracas. Trump was among the first world leaders to recognize Guaidó’s authority as president and has refused diplomatic ties with Maduro, insisting the Venezuelan constitution does not grant him the power to engage in foreign relations.

Articles 333 and 350 of the Venezuelan constitution require the people to disavow and replace a president that violates human rights or disrupts the democratic order. Maduro claims legitimacy through a May 2018 election in which his regime barred opposition politicians from running and used socialist gangs and the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) to intimidate the few voters who turned out into voting for his party.

“President Donald Trump (@POTUS), in his State of the Union speech, highlighted the importance that the struggle for democracy and the end of usurpation in Venezuela has for the cause of Freedom,” Guaidó wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to the people and government of the United States! #GoingWell.”

Guaidó has taken to using the hashtag #VamosBien (#GoingWell), which in Spanish takes on the meaning “heading in the right direction,” to express optimism about the process of removing Maduro and his socialist regime, which marks two decades in power this year after late dictator Hugo Chávez took power in 1999. While Chávez and his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won the election that put him in power that year, the former soldier regularly expressed little respect for the democratic process and executed a failed coup d’etat on the free government of Venezuela in 1992.

During his address Tuesday, Trump sent a message of solidarity to Venezuelans struggling to reconstruct the free state they enjoyed between 1958 and 1999.

“Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim President, Juan Guaidó,” President Trump said. “We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”

Trump also condemned those in the United States who promote socialism without addressing the devastating situation currently unfolding in Venezuela because of the implementation of socialist policies.

“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” he told Congress. “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Like Maduro, Guaidó is a member of a socialist party: Popular Will, the party led by political prisoner Leopoldo López. Guaidó has neither embraced nor rejected the ideology of socialism publicly since taking office two weeks ago, even though Popular Will is a member of the Socialist International, a coalition of global leftist parties that has condemned the Maduro regime’s human rights abuses for years. While Popular Will insists that it is a democratic party and rejects the authoritarianism of the PSUV, its manifesto supports extensive government powers to provide for healthcare, housing, and economic support.

Guaidó’s first act as president was to request international humanitarian aid for the Venezuelan people, who are on the brink of famine and have no access to modern health care. The U.S. State Department responded with a $20 million aid shipment currently parked on the Colombian border, as Maduro’s military refuses to allow it to enter the country.

Last week, Guaidó debuted his first policy proposal as president: the Plan País, or Nation Plan, which would require the government to redirect the billions in profits from the state-run oil company away from enriching Maduro’s socialist cronies and towards social programs to bring much-needed food, medicine, and housing to impoverished Venezuelans.

The Trump administration issued a statement recognizing Guaidó as president on January 23, the day he took office. Since then, dozens of nations around the world – most in Latin America, but the European Union and nations like Kosovo and Georgia, as well – have stated they would only conduct foreign relations with Guaidó’s administration, not Maduro’s. Trump also spoke to Guaidó personally via telephone last week and “agreed to maintain regular communication” and to support the transition process out of dictatorship.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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