Explained: The ongoing crisis in Venezuela
Caracas, Feb 10: Venezuela, the country to the North of South America, has found itself in a deep political crisis as two individuals have claimed themselves as the president and the international community divided over the prevailing situation.
How the situation in the oil-producing country has reached such a boiling point?
The South American nation has found itself in terrible economic crisis with hyperinflation that has seen its people failing to afford basic items like food and feeling the country (over three million of them since 2014).
There has been a growing urgency in the Opposition ranks to topple the country's socialist president Nicolas Maduro who had succeeded the iconic Hugo Chavez, who was also hie mentor, in 2013 following his death.
The situation in Venezuela turned for the worse on January 23 when the leader of the legislature since January 5, Juan Guaido, claimed himself to be the president of the country.
Juan Guaido's rise a direct challenge to Maduro
The 35-year-old's assuming executive powers was a direct challenge to Maduro who took oath for his second six-year term in the presidential office just a few weeks ago. Maduro blasted the move and also accused the United States of trying to engineer his downfall.
Maduro's last election in May 2018 was controversial as most Opposition parties boycotted it and were barred from contesting. Others were jailed or left the country for fear of getting arrested and the transparency of the election was suspected.
Maduro even planned to take oath for his second term on January 10 even though the election was held last May, saying he would complete the remaining period of his first term before moving on to the next.
The Opposition came after Maduro after he took oath as the president last month and the National Assembly contested that the former was a "usurper" and claimed the country's presidency was actually vacant. This brought Guaido into the picture.
He declared himself to be the interim president of Venezuela riding articles 233 and 333 of the constitution of Venezuela saying in cases where the presidency falls vacant, the head of the National Assembly steps in as the acting president.
Guaido found international forces backing him; some backed Maduro as well
Guaido found a number of international sides backing him and they included the US and a number of Latin American countries. Russia, China and Turkey who have deep relations with Venezuela and are not known to be close to the US, backed Maduro.
The sitting president was so livid with Washington that he severed diplomatic relations with the latter and gave marching orders to American diplomats located in his country.
Inside Venezuela, too, there were camps that took on the two presidents. While the Opposition backed Guaido, the government officials sought to defend Maduro.
The latter even blocked a route from the neighbouring Colombia to stop international aid from reaching the country claiming that Venezuela is no beggar.
However, observers felt that it was a desperate move to keep away international 'intervention' that could see Maduro getting toppled.
Guaido has remained unmoved in his mission to "liberate Venezuela" and has urged the Opposition and anti-Maduro factions to continue with their stand.
According to experts, Guaido has not much power to succeed in his mission since the National Assembly was reduced to a toothless body by the setting up of the National Constituent Assembly in 2017 featuring loyalists to the government.
It is being said that the army could play a key role in this crisis and the soldiers have remained loyal to Maduro who has made frequent pay hikes for them and promoted high-ranked officials in key posts. Guaido though has also tried his bit by promising amnesty to all security personnel if they dumped Maduro.