Caracas recently witnessed two swearing-in ceremonies, two weeks apart, both of which left much to be desired.

On January 10, President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term as president, after an election last year that the United Nations, the European Union and the United States all said failed to meet accepted standards.

On January 23, Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, swore himself in as president, an office he has never run for, and the US and many other countries quickly announced that he is their man.

"I think 80 percent of Venezuelans have no idea who this man is. But he is very well-known in DC," explains Abby Martin, host of The Empire Files. "We know that not only did [US Vice President] Mike Pence call Juan Guaido the day before he declared himself president but, in fact, the US government has been working with the opposition in Venezuela for decades."

Juan Guaido was partly educated in the US and he is a protege of opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, who the Maduro government has under house arrest. He was first elected to the National Assembly in 2010 and only became head of the body early last month.

What we are seeing here is a mainly US-engineered attempt at a coup.

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, lecturer at the University of London

Guaido argues that his claim to the presidency is legally sound since the constitution allows for the head of the National Assembly to do that if the Assembly deems the office of the president to be vacant.

However, Maduro's supporters argue that Guaido's move, and Washington's role in backing it, is tantamount to a coup. A side of this story that doesn't get much play in the US news media.

"What we are seeing here is a mainly US-engineered attempt at a coup," says Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, lecturer at the University of London. "To call a spade a spade and an 'attempted coup' an 'attempted coup' is not to defend the Maduro administration."

Selling a humanitarian intervention in Venezuela would be easier for the Trump administration, if not for to the US's long track record of engineering the overthrow of leftist governments in Latin America and elsewhere.

According to Rory Carroll, "There are certain ominous echoes with [the Iraq War] 2003 in that now we have a very hawkish administration in Washington that is talking of intervening, and we have large sections of the US media in effect acting as cheerleaders ... I can only hope that peaceful change comes and some sort of negotiated settlement which would pave the way to free and fair elections," says the former Latin America correspondent for The Guardian.

Maduro is trying to go around the mainstream media, taking his message online, in this case, directly to the American people. But none of his efforts bode well for him because there are shortages of food and medicine.

There's also a surplus of discontent on the streets, one too many politicians calling him president and too much oil under the ground to go unnoticed in Washington.


Alan McLeod - author, Bad News from Venezuela
Jairo Lugo-Ocando - professor, Northwestern University in Qatar
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera - lecturer, University of London
Abby Martin - host, The Empire Files
Rory Carroll - former Latin America correspondent, The Guardian and author of Comandante: Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

Source: Al Jazeera