President Donald Trump welcomed Venezuelan President Juan Guaido to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Guaido’s attendance at the speech was not included on the president’s guest list but was likely expected to be a surprise. The news was first reported by Bloomberg News.
The president’s invitation demonstrates that his administration still backs Guaido, despite Venezuela dictator Nicolas Maduro clinging to power in the country.
President Trump may use Guaido’s appearance as a guest of the speech to highlight the false promises of socialism, citing the collapse of Venezuela as an example. Last week, Guaido met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Guaido is attempting to boost his claim to power as about 50 countries have recognized him as the rightful political leader of Venezuela.
In January 2018, the Venezuelan National Assembly appointed Guaido as the president when Maduro refused to leave power after the fraudulent 2017 election in Venezuela. Maduro also still controls the Venezuala military.
Although the president has reportedly expressed doubts about Guaido’s ability to oust Maduro, his recent State of the Union gesture sends a message to Venezuela that the opposition leader still has his support.