What’s happening in Venezuela? The presidential crisis, explained

Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó are battling for the presidency in Venezuela.

Thousands of Venezuelans, mobilized by a young, fresh-faced opposition politician named Juan Guaidó, have taken to the streets in a massive movement against President Nicolás Maduro.

Venezuela has for several years faced a devastating economic collapse that has created a humanitarian crisis and caused millions to flee the country. Maduro, a socialist dictator, has overseen much of that collapse. He was reelected last May, but many citizens and international observers claim the process was rigged and that his presidency is a sham.

Juan Guaidó claims that Maduro’s rule is thus illegitimate. He says that according to the country’s constitution, he, as the head of the National Assembly (the country’s legislative body), is now the rightful, albeit temporary, president of the country — not Maduro. He doesn’t plan to hold on to the presidency indefinitely, he says, and will call for new elections in the future.

President Donald Trump, along with a number of other world leaders, has now officially recognized Guaidó as the country’s legitimate ruler — and Maduro has retaliated by severing diplomatic ties with the US. Experts caution that the situation could escalate into a dangerous political showdown.

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