Before the fateful day of January 22, fewer than one in five
Venezuelans had heard of Juan Guaidó. Only a few months ago, the
35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right
group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. Even in
his own party, Guaidó had been a mid-level figure in the
opposition-dominated National Assembly, which is now held under contempt
according to Venezuela’s constitution.
But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.