The political situation in Venezuela makes it necessary to take into account two aspects of the events that occurred on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Who is Juan Guaidó and why does he currently hold the Presidency of the National Assembly? And more importantly, why is his oath as president in charge perfectly constitutional?
THE PRESIDENT IN CHARGE
Juan Guaidó is 35 years old, is an industrial engineer and has been a member of the National Assembly for the State of Vargas for two terms (2011-2015 and 2016-2021). He is part of the Voluntad Popular party, led by Leopoldo López, which belongs to the Internacional Socialista. Due to political agreements within the opposition, the positions on the Board of Directors of the National Assembly are rotated according to the political party in question. Thus, during the year 2016 the National Assembly was presided over by the deputy Henry Ramos Allup, from Acción Democrática. In 2017, Deputy Julio Borges of Primero Justicia presided over the National Assembly. In 2018, the turn went to Omar Barboza of Un Nuevo Tiempo. And, in 2019, it was the turn for the Popular Will party. In a somewhat surprising decision -especially because of the events that would follow- Voluntad Popular appointed Juan Guaidó, who had a relatively low profile within the opposition and was unknown both nationally and internationally.
THE OATH AS PRESIDENT IN CHARGE
In clear confusion, or bad intention, many media have alluded to a supposed "self-proclamation" by Juan Guaidó on January 23, 2019, when the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in its articles 233, 333 and 350, gives sufficient coverage to his position -it makes it obligatory- as president of the Republic, in charge or interim, given that: (i) the absolute faults of the Presidency are covered by the Executive Vice President and, in the absence of the latter, as is the case, by the President of the National Assembly; (ii) by a reason a fortiori, or for a greater reason, such constitutional regulation must be applied in the absence of an elected President, as it is also the case; (iii) all Venezuelans - and those invested with authority - have the duty to collaborate in the restoration of constitutional order; and (iv) the Venezuelan people have the right to rebel against a regime or authority that violates democratic principles and values, as it is the case with the regime of Nicolás Maduro, who usurps the Presidency of the Republic, controls the other branches of Public Power and systematically undermines the human rights of the Venezuelan population. Juan Guaidó was sworn in with the support of the National Assembly - the only legitimate power in Venezuela - and at the head of the population that took to the streets on a massive scale to support Guaidó and reject the madurist usurpation. Such an oath, based on the Constitution and backed by the people, cannot be confused with a pronouncement typical of de facto ways.