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Juan Guaido (Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez) was born on 28 July 1983, one of seven children in the port city of La Guaira in the state of Vargas. Guaido and his family survived a catastrophic mudslide in 1999 that killed thousands of people and destroyed thousands of homes in La Guaira.
“Seeing your daily life wiped out from one day to the next forced us to detach ourselves from material things, but brought us closer,” Juan Guaidó told the newspaper El Nacional.
Juan Gerardo Guaido Marquez, an industrial engineer by training, began organizing demonstrations against Hugo Chavez more than a decade ago after the late leader silenced critics by refusing to renew the broadcast license of Venezuela’s most popular television channel. Guaido formed a close relationship with Leopoldo Lopez and helped the former Caracas mayor establish the Popular Will party. Even with Lopez under house arrest, they talk several times a day.
He joined the National Assembly in 2011, serving as an alternate until he was elected in 2016 as representative for the state of Vargas — a position that he currently holds. He was among several lawmakers who went on a hunger strike demanding parliamentary elections in 2015. He was a relative unknown until he was chosen to lead Venezuela’s legislative body. Guaido was briefly detained by Venezuelan government operatives on the way to a political rally, days after he said he was ready to replace Maduro. As a legislator, he visited a disputed zone between Venezuela and Guyana that dates back to 1966. He also took part in the hunger strike to pressure the National Electoral Council (CNE), which was controlled by Chávez loyalists, to set a date for the parliamentary elections that the opposition eventually won on Dec. 6, 2015.
Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez Full Biography and Profile
Juan Gerardo Guaido Marquez’s partner is Fabiana Rosales, a fellow student leader. Their daughter, Miranda, named after a forerunner to South American independence hero Simon Bolivar, was born amid the 2017 wave of protests, during which her father was hit in the neck by plastic buckshot and broke his hand in clashes with police.
Guaido’s party, Voluntad Popular (Popular Will or Will of the People) is a centrist social-democratic party. It holds just 14 of the national assembly’s 167 seats, but is a member of the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition, which holds a super majority in the assembly.
According to the party’s website, its origins date back to 2004. It was formed to “promote social action and social leadership,” and it was officially recognized as a party in 2011.
Its manifesto states that it seeks to “bring together Venezuelans to work toward peace, freedom and democracy” and to “build a more secure, united and prosperous country where everyone will be entitled to all rights.”
The party was co-founded and is currently led by Leopoldo Lopez, a well-known political prisoner in Venezuela and Guaido’s mentor.
In his short career, Guaido has been applauded for building unity among fellow legislators. Now his challenge is to do the same across the country, channeling the desperate desire for change within the limits of a regime intent on suppressing dissent. “The situation has catapulted him into the spotlight,” Romero said.
“He’s breathed new life into the opposition,” said David Smilde, an analyst for the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group. “The opposition has finally put forward a fresh face that has courage, new ideas and leadership skills that has started to revive them.”
Already, some in the military have taken up Mr. Guaidó’s call, staging a brief act of resistance at a military base in Caracas, which was followed by violent protests after it was put down.
Mr. Maduro called the opposition a bunch of “little boys,” saying they were pawns of the Trump administration. María Iris Varela Rangel, a top politician in Maduro’s party, wrote on Twitter: “Guaidó: I have already gotten your jail cell ready with the right uniform, and I hope you name your cabinet quickly to know who will keep you company, you stupid kid.”
Mr. Guaidó’s challenge to Mr. Maduro comes at a time when his presidency faces mounting challenges of legitimacy. On Jan. 10, the president was sworn in for a second six-year term after a disputed election in May that many countries did not recognize.
“People have been frustrated with the opposition, and tired of the same old faces of the politicians of the old establishment that have failed,” said Margarita López Maya, a retired political scientist in Caracas who taught at the Central University of Venezuela.
Does Guaidó have a chance at taking power?
Guaidó called the mass protests on Jan. 23 in order to get a show of public support for his plan to take over the presidency. “We will stay in the streets until we have freedom for Venezuela,” Guaido told supporters and television cameras at the protest. “We will fight back until we have democracy.”
Small-scale protests happen on a daily basis in Venezuela over food shortages and labor rights. But if demonstrations become large enough to overwhelm security forces’ ability contain them, that could trigger “a break in the chain of command within the military,” Moya-Ocampos says. “Then it is possible they could withdraw their support for Maduro.”
Juan Guaido has declared himself president of Venezuela — a move quickly endorsed by several Latin American countries, as well as Canada and the United States. Many people around the world, and even inside Venezuela, may not have known Guaido’s name.
Foreign officials, particularly in the United States, who want to see a transitional government in Venezuela, say they saw in Mr. Guaidó a fresh-faced leader from humble origins who contrasted with previous opposition leaders, whom Mr. Maduro disparaged as oligarchs and right-wing extremists.
While the United States recognized Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader, senior American officials have denounced Mr. Maduro as a dictator and made clear their support for Mr. Guaidó’s effort to oust Mr. Maduro and set up a transitional government. Last year, Trump administration officials met in secret with rebellious members of the military to discuss their plans to overthrow Mr. Maduro.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke directly to the Venezuelan people in a video released on YouTube and Twitter on Tuesday, calling Mr. Maduro a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power.” Mr. Pence said he recognized the National Assembly, led by Mr. Guaidó, as “the last vestige of democracy in your country,” and stated that, “we are with you, we stand with you, and we will stay with you until democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of libertad.”
In response, Mr. Maduro said Tuesday evening that he had ordered a “a total and absolute revision” of relations with the United States. He provided no details on what that might produce, but said decisions would be imminent.
“Who elects the president of Venezuela? Mike Pence?” Mr. Maduro asked during a live address on state television.
With short black hair peppered with grey, he had never one for these big public speeches, but Guaidó pushed himself to become the leader of a divided and unstructured opposition, whose biggest leaders were imprisoned, exiled or out of action.
“Guaidó is a fresh young man, and educated — he looks like the people, he talks like the people, he is a survivor and a family man, and also had prospects in big-league baseball,” José Manuel Bolívar, one of his party directors said.
- Juan Gerardo Guaidó Márquez Biography and Profile (Politicoscope / NYT / Reuters / Time)