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Venezuela’s Opposition Is Gambling It All on a Young and Untested Activist Named Juan Guaidó

January 14, 2019

Only a week ago, few outside of Venezuela knew of Juan Guaidó. But the 35-year-old industrial engineer has suddenly emerged as a cause celebre, heralded by global leaders for his challenge to the near-total power of President Nicolás Maduro.

Following May elections internationally derided as a fraudulent power grab, Maduro was sworn in for a new six-year term Thursday. One day later, Guaidó — the new head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly — took a step Venezuelan critics had long considered too dangerous: invoking articles in the constitution that allow the head of the assembly to assume national leadership if a “usurper” takes office.

In a socialist country buckling under the weight of corruption, mismanagement and hyperinflation that has left food and medicine scarce, Guaidó stopped short of declaring himself Venezuela’s interim president. But he appeared to energize the moribund opposition, emerging as a symbol of hope for Maduro’s detractors...

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