Long-standing US efforts to impose regime change in Venezuela may be coming to a head with a possible opposition bid to unseat President Maduro, who was recently reelected to a second term, and who US officials say is a dictator with no claim to power.
The US has been urging opposition leader Juan Guaido to declare himself “interim president,” and President Trump is said to be considering recognizing Guaido as the “legitimate” president of Venezuela to try to advance the cause of regime change.
Guaido has suggested he could make himself interim president for the sake of holding new elections. His allies are in the process of trying to get the Venezuelan military on board for this, promising protection to military members who back the regime change.
The US position is less about the legitimacy of the recent election, and more that they’ve wanted Maduro removed from office for some time, and are backing anything that might make that happen. Since taking office, President Trump has reportedly talked up attacking Venezuela outright, and has spoken very enthusiastically about the idea of Venezuela’s military just launching a coup on their own to seize power.
This is always a dangerous position for US officials to publicly take. Historically, Maduro has used the specter of US imperialism as a pretext for cracking down on political opponents who the US seems to like better than him, and the Trump Administration seems to be going out of its way to endorse Guaido, even though doing so may taint him in the eyes of some voters.