Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela

Tour operator Alejandro Palacios joined hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans protesting in the streets early this year, wanting to believe that things would finally change in the country as upstart opposition leader Juan Guaido rallied international support and promised a swift end to President Nicolas Maduro’s rule. To Palacios, Guaido seemed different from the string of past opposition leaders who had challenged Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez, over 20 years of increasingly authoritarian socialist rule. The United States and dozens of nations had thrown their support behind the youthful congressional leader, recognizing him as the country’s legitimate president, arguing that Maduro’s re-election was invalidated by fraud and a ban on most opponents. And there seemed to be signs that the military might heed Guaido’s repeated calls for soldiers to abandon Maduro. A few joined him in the streets in a quickly quelled uprising. The U.S. and other nations sent caravans of aid to Venezuela’s borders to be distributed by Guaido’s backers, and they were put in charge of many Venezuelan embassies and assets abroad. Then February turned to March, and the months marched by. No international aid made it through Maduro’s blockade. The military stayed loyal. Even the nation’s catastrophic economy began to improve slightly. Maduro remains in power. “Here we are today, like nothing ever happened,” said a disillusioned Palacios, 26, who has watched many relatives pack up and leave in desperation while he stayed behind to care for his parents living on a government pension…

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