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Venezuela's Congress declares President Nicolas Maduro a 'usurper' as opposition leader rises

Push for National Assembly President Juan Guaido to take the reins and restore democracy to socialist nation

National Assembly President Juan Guaido (FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela's Congress officially declared President Nicolas Maduro a "usurper" on Tuesday, making his actions null and void just days after he was sworn in for a disputed second term in office.

Under the country's constitution, Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, can step in to lead the country as a whole in the absence of a legitimate national president; meaning all eyes are now transfixed on whether opposition leader Guaido has the backing to grab the reins from the socialist dictator Maduro.

What are the details?

Reuters reported that opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan said in a speech following the vote, "Today, Congress declares that at this time there is no president of the republic. Let's start the process to recover the constitutional order."

The National Assembly also agreed on a measure asking dozens of foreign governments to freeze any bank accounts linked to Maduro's government.

While Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution allows for Guaido to take power under this circumstance, he would need the backing of the military and the international community in order to do so — and Maduro has made it clear that he will not give up his position without a fight.

On Monday, Maduro laughed off the notion that he would cede power to Guaido, mocking him in a speech by saying, "I'm going to give you the sash, big boy, to see what you do with the country," referring to the official banner the president dons.

Government leaders in the Constitution Assembly — a rival body created in 2017 and stacked with supporters of Maduro —have threatened to have Guaido tried for treason. According to CNN, government operatives briefly detained Guaido on Sunday, but he was released a few hours later.

Meanwhile, Maduro continues to dig the country further into its socialist hole, ordering a 300 percent increase in the minimum wage on Monday while annual inflation currently runs at roughly 240,000 percent, Bloomberg reported.

So, what do we care?

CNN reported that President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, a move that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) endorsed on Tuesday.

Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton issued statements referring to Maduro's presidency as illegitimate in recent days, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Guaido to offer his support, according to The News Tribune.

One last thing…
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