>> As hundreds of thousands of protestors fed up with the government of Nicholas Madero flooded the streets of Caracas Wednesday, Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president. The move immediately won the backing of US President Donald Trump, who released a statement recognizing him as the country's interim leader, prompting a swift reaction from Maduro.
In a televised broadcast from the Presidential Palace, Maduro cut ties with the United States. Accusing the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the US.>>
I have decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States.>> Maduro told U.S. diplomatic personnel they had 72 hours to leave the country.
The socialist leader started a second term earlier this month, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a sham. Guaido's power grab Wednesday takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, says Reuters correspondent Angus Berwick in Caracas.>> Now that he has actually declared himself President that opens up a real possible scenario.
One is that's cuz the government's here react swiftly to clamp down, possibly maybe pressing charges of rebellion against him, that's one possibility. And the other is that Guaido effectively creates a sort of parallel government.>> Recognize and express our full support for the intern presidency of Venezuela>> Following Trump's support for Guaido, similar statements came from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela's neighbors Brazil and Columbia.
Experts say ultimately a change in government in Venezuela will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces. They have stood by Maduro through two violent waves of street protests, a collapsing economy, and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.