In the space of barely three weeks, Juan Guaidó has emerged as the most formidable foe Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has faced in its 20 years of existence. His bold gambit to declare himself interim president has galvanised a downtrodden, demoralised, and divided opposition movement, and won the backing of all of the hemispheric heavyweights, except Mexico. The US has thrown its full weight behind Guaidó, following up on President Donald Trump’s recognition of him as the legitimate president, by imposing sanctions on the state-owned oil company Pdvsa this week in an attempt to choke off the supplies of hard currency sustaining President Nicolás Maduro and persuade the military to drop its allegiance. The government’s vacillating response to Guaidó enabled him to build momentum but Maduro has now launched a legal counter-offensive.

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