What’s behind the protests: The opposition has accused Maduro’s government of “usurping power” and has called for new elections.
Our live coverage of the protests in Venezuela has ended. You can read more about it here or scroll through the posts below to see how it unfolded.
Mike Pompeo: US will continue diplomatic presence in Venezuela
(Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement Wednesday responding to Nicolás Maduro’s demand that US diplomats to depart Venezuela in the next 72 hours.
Pompeo said the US will maintain diplomatic relations with Venezuela despite Maduro’s order. He went on to say the US has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
“The United States maintains diplomatic relations with Venezuela and will conduct our relations with Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido, who has invited our mission to remain in Venezuela. The United States does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela. Accordingly the United States does not consider former president Nicolas Maduro to have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare our diplomats persona non grata,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also issued this firm warning:
“The United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.”
“On behalf of all #Venezuela I thank your commitment to support the Venezuelan’s people’s will,” Guaido tweeted.
Guaido was responding to Trump’s earlier tweet recognizing him as Venezuela’s acting president.
Senior Trump administration official: Maduro's order is "meaningless"
From CNN's Michelle Kosinski
Nicolás Maduro (C) waves a national flag as he is escorted by Diosdado Cabello, president of National Constitutional Assembly; first lady Cilia Flores; executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and Major Erika Farias at the Balcón del Pueblo of the Miraflores Government Palace on Jan. 23, 2019 in Caracas, Venezuela.
(Photo by Edilzon Gamez/Getty Images)
A senior Trump administration official told CNN that Nicolás Maduro’s order for US diplomats to depart Venezuela “is meaningless.”
President Trump announced today that he is recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
Following Trump’s announcement, Maduro said he was officially breaking relations with the United States and said US diplomatic staff in Venezuela had 72 hours to leave.
Juan Guaido asks all embassies to remain in Venezuela
From CNN’S Flora Charner
(FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
National Assembly President Juan Guaido, who swore himself in as acting president of Venezuela earlier Wednesday, asking all embassies to “maintain their diplomatic presence in the country.”
Guaido issued a statement on his official Twitter account shortly after Nicolás Maduro ordered all consular staff to leave the country within the next 72 hours.
The statement, printed on National Assembly letterhead, was addressed to “all Embassies with presence in Venezuela.”
Here’s what Guaido wrote in the statement:
“Through the powers that the Constitution grants me, I would like to communicate to all leaders of diplomatic missions and their accredited staff in Venezuela — the state of Venezuela firmly wants you to maintain your diplomatic presence in our country. Any messages to the contrary lack any validity, since they come from people or entities that have been characterized as usurpers. They have no legitimate authority to make any statements on this.”
Many foreign governments, including the United States, have expressed their support for Guaido assuming the role as acting president of Venezuela.
GOP senator says US diplomats shouldn't leave Venezuela
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, responding to Nicolás Maduro order to expel all US diplomats from Venezuela, tweeted that they shouldn’t leave the country.
The Republican lawmaker said Maduro wasn’t authorized to make such a demand since he wasn’t the country’s legitimate president. (Earlier today, National Assembly President Juan Guaido swore himself in as President of Venezuela today before a massive crowd of supporters in Caracas.)
Read the senator’s tweet:
Senior Trump administration official on Venezuela: "All options are on the table"
From CNN's Liz Stark
In a background call about Venezuela Wednesday, a senior Trump administration official said that “all options are on the table” with regards to possible future actions, including sanctions against the country.
The remarks comes as President Trump announced earlier that he is recognizing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
“In regards to the options, frankly in our sanctions, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what actually the United States can take from an economic sanctions front,” the senior administration official said.
CNN reported that depending on the severity of Nicolás Maduro’s response, Trump is also prepared to take a range of actions to punish him, including possible oil sanctions, two sources familiar with White House deliberations said.
Later when asked about possible actions that the United States could take, the senior official reiterated:
“Now if they choose the route of violence and seek to usurp the constitutional order and democracy, let us be clear, that we have a host of options. We will take every single one of those options seriously,” the official cautioned.
“The message to Maduro and his cronies will be that — if that is the route they choose — it will be very clear to them … they will have no immediate future. They will have no immediate livelihood. And therefore, one way or another, have their days counted.”
"Get out!": Maduro breaks relations with US and demands all consular staff leave in next 72 hours
From CNN's Flora Charner
(MARCELO GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nicolás Maduro spoke from the balcony of Venezuela’s presidential palace Wednesday, where he announced he was officially breaking political and diplomatic relations with the US and ordered all consular staff to leave the country within the next 72 hours.
“The imperial government of the United States is leading a coup attempt against us in order to install a puppet presidency that they can control in Venezuela,” Maduro said during the speech, which was live on state broadcaster VTV.
Organization of American States leader recognizes Guaido as president of Venezuela
From CNN’s Flora Charner
Organization of American States president Luis Almagro tweeted Wednesday his support for National Assembly President Juan Guaido moments after he swore himself in as president of Venezuela.
“We congratulate @jguaido as President in charge of #Venezuela. He has our full support and recognition to push the return of his country to democracy #23Jan #OaswithVenezuela,” he tweeted.
The Organization of American States voted not to recognize President Nicolás Maduro’s second term as president of Venezuela during an extraordinary session on Jan. 10. The vote was 19 to 6, with eight abstentions and one absence.
Trump officially recognizes Guaido as interim president of Venezuela
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump officially recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, the White House announced today.
Guaido swore himself in as Venezuela’s president before massive crowds in Caracas today. The move comes nearly two weeks after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated for a second term. The US, dozens of other countries and the Venezuelan opposition has decried Maduro’s actions as illegitimate.
Read Trump’s full statement:
“Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law. I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy. We encourage other Western Hemisphere governments to recognize National Assembly President Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela, and we will work constructively with them in support of his efforts to restore constitutional legitimacy. We continue to hold the illegitimate Maduro regime directly responsible for any threats it may pose to the safety of the Venezuelan people. As Interim President Guaido noted yesterday: ‘Violence is the usurper’s weapon; we only have one clear action: to remain united and firm for a democratic and free Venezuela.’”
United Nations is monitoring what's happening in Venezuela
From CNN's Richard Roth
The United Nations Secretary General is following the developments in Venezuela today, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said at Wednesday’s briefing.
In a statement, the spokesman said the Secretary General is urging all groups to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent an escalation:
“The United Nations firmly rejects any kind of political violence. We underline the urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political negotiations to address the challenges facing the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.”
National Assembly President Juan Guaido swears himself in as President of Venezuela
From CNN's Flora Charner
National Assembly President Juan Guaido swore himself in as President of Venezuela today before a massive crowd of supporters in Caracas.
“Raise your right hand, today, January 23rd 2019, in my condition as President of the National Assembly, invoking the articles of the Constitution – before Almighty God,” Guaido said, as the mass of supporters raised their hands. “I swear to formally assume the power of the National Executive Office as the President of Venezuela.
Guaido had declared the swear-in ceremony for Nicolas Maduro’s second term as president of Venezuela to be unconstitutional and called for new elections.
Many other countries, including the United States, said they also did not recognize Maduro’s new term.
Protesters are chanting "Sí, se puede" in Caracas
From CNN's Jorge Luis Pérez Valery
Masses of protesters have gathered in Caracas, the capitol of Venezuela. The group is chanting “Sí, se puede,” which means “yes, we can.”
CNN’s Jorge Luis Pérez Valery is on the ground, watching the protests unfold.
“It was Impossible not to grab the phone and shoot it,” he said.
Wednesday’s protests are expected to be the largest demonstration since 2017. Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces for months at that time, accusing President Nicolas Maduro of imposing a dictatorship. More than 120 people were killed in protest-linked incidents during that unrest.
Watch the protest:
Trump expected to recognize Venezuela's opposition leader as nation's president
From CNN's Jeremy Diamond and Boris Sanchez
Venezuela's National Assembly President Juan Guaido
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump is expected to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela once Guaido takes the oath of office — a move that could take place as early as Wednesday, three sources familiar with the matter said.
The expected move comes nearly two weeks after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was inaugurated for a second term that the US, dozens of other countries and the Venezuelan opposition has decried as illegitimate.
Since then, Trump has mulled recognizing Guaido — the president of the National Assembly — as the country’s legitimate president and top Trump administration officials have gradually ratcheted up their public statements, laying the groundwork for this step.
The White House is closely monitoring this week’s protests and Maduro’s response. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence issued a message of support to Venezuelans planning to take to the streets, saying they had the “unwavering support of the United States.”
Depending on the severity of Maduro’s response, Trump is also prepared to take a range of actions to punish Maduro, including possible oil sanctions, two sources familiar with White House deliberations said. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Today's protests fall on a highly symbolic date
From CNN's Nicole Chavez
The protests against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and government today take place on a highly symbolic date for Venezuelans.
Wednesday marks the 61st anniversary of a civilian and military uprising that overthrew former Venezuelan dictator Gen. Marcos Perez Jimenez.
The protests also come weeks after Maduro began his second term in power as the country faces a deep economic crisis and dozens of countries dispute the legitimacy of his presidency. The opposition is accusing Maduro’s government of “usurping power” and calling for new elections.
Why Venezuelans are protesting today
From CNN's Nicole Chavez
Scores of people are expected to take to the streets of Venezuela today in a revitalized effort against President Nicolas Maduro and his government.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly called for Wednesday’s nationwide marches after accusing Maduro’s government of “usurping power” and calling for new elections.
Today’s marches come weeks after Maduro began his second term in power as the country faces a deep economic crisis and dozens of countries dispute the legitimacy of his presidency.
The country’s economic crisis: Maduro has continued the huge social welfare programs and price control policies of Hugo Chavez, who steered the country toward socialism before dying in 2013. Through nearly a decade of mismanagement, Venezuela squandered its profound oil wealth, leaving its economy in tatters and Latin America reeling from an unprecedented mass exodus of migrants in search of food and medicine.
The United Nations estimates as many as 3 million Venezuelans have fled since 2014.