Two Presidents, One Country

January 25, 2019

Leaders from around the world were sworn in earlier this year, marking the start of 2019 with transitions in leadership and new faces in government. It’s not unusual … new year = new leaders, right? It’s also no surprise that with every elected official, there are those who support them and those who don’t. But what happens when the world rejects the outcome of an election? Then what? Is the leader who is sworn into office really the leader of the country? Well, yes and no. We’ve been talking about the country of Venezuela for quite a while now because its economy has slowly deteriorated. Once a country rich in oil reserves, Venezuela is now struggling with getting basic supplies to its citizens. Many blame the economic collapse on President Nicolás Maduro.

Last year, Venezuela held its presidential election, but approximately sixty countries called the election a sham. Why? Because President Maduro did not allow opposition leaders to run against him. Despite the world’s outcry, President Maduro was sworn into office earlier this year. Now, you’d think that after a president is sworn in, that’s it—he or she is now president—but that’s not the case here. Venezuela’s National Assembly has voted for Juan Guaidó to be their “real” leader. Yes, this means that Venezuela currently has two presidents. Interesting, right? Why would a country swear one leader into office, only to have its National Assembly acknowledge another person as their legitimate president? Well, it’s complicated. On the one hand, Maduro was technically elected president. His supporters … well … support him, and believe he is the rightful President of Venezuela. Guaidó, who is the leader of the opposition party, believes that the election was a sham and that Maduro is an usurper. For these reasons, he wants to help the people of Venezuela reclaim their democracy and has declared himself the “acting” President of Venezuela.

Who will wind up being the actual leader of Venezuela? It’s still uncertain who will be the president, but both Maduro and Guaidó are moving forward with leading the country. Maduro has warned that any coup attempts will be met with justice, and Guaidó has been speaking to foreign leaders. Recently, the United States (and several other countries) recognized Guaidó as the acting President of Venezuela. Maduro responded by ordering that all US diplomats leave Venezuela within seventy-two hours, while Guaidó stated that all diplomats are welcome and should remain. Who will come out on top? We’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, what do you think should happen when two people claim that they are the president of the country?