The White House invited far-right Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to attend United States President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address on February 4. In the address, Trump referred to the extremist opposition deputy as the “true and legitimate president of Venezuela” and thanked him for his struggle.
The State of the Union Address is an annual Presidential address that typically includes a budget message, an economic report of the nation, the legislative agenda and national priorities. In its invitation to Guaidó, the Trump administration once again demonstrated its persistence in their support of the leader who in the year since his self-proclamation as president has been accused of corruption and embezzlement, ran several key Venezuelan companies, Montoneros and CITGO, into the ground, and has created deep divisions within the once united opposition.
On top of those ‘achievements,’ Guaidó also failed numerous times to mobilize the people of Venezuela to join him in his fight against the “socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro,” as Trump refers to him.
Trump declared to Guaidó, “Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland that all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom.”
In January, Guaidó lost his position as the president of the National Assembly when Luis Parra of the center party Justice First (PJ) was elected as the new president of the Venezuelan parliament. However, Guaidó and his supporters rejected the results and installed a “parallel parliament” in the office of opposition newspaper, where he was re-elected as president by a small fraction of allied legislators. The next day, Guaidó declared himself the rightful leader of Venezuela, and the United States and its allies, the European Union and the Lima Group*, endorsed him.
After several failed efforts to overthrow Maduro in 2019 and his consistent support of brutal US sanctions and possible military intervention, Guaidó has increasingly lost support in the parliament as well as among his supporters. In December, several Venezuelan opposition deputies declared themselves against him and denounced him of corruption, despotism and using the presidency of the parliament for his personal political benefits.
Trump concluded his tribute to Guaidó by declaring: “Socialism destroys nations. But always remember: Freedom unifies the soul,” and proceeded to announce that the US will invest a “record-breaking” $2.2 trillion in the US military in order to “safeguard American liberty.”
*The Lima Group is a group of the right-wing governments of the region founded in Peru’s capital Lima in 2017 with the objective to intensify diplomatic measures against the constitutional government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and force his resignation.