U.S. President Donald J. Trump welcomed Interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaidó to the White House.
“The visit is an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the people of Venezuela, and to discuss how we can work with interim President Guaidó to expedite a democratic transition in Venezuela that will end the ongoing crisis,” the White House said in a statement. President Trump highlighted U.S. support for democracy around the region in his State of the Union address in Washington the evening before, when he noted the United States is leading a diplomatic coalition of nearly 60 countries against the former regime of Nicolás Maduro.:
“Maduro is an illegitimate ruler, a tyrant who brutalizes his people. But Maduro’s grip of tyranny will be smashed and broken.”
Interim President Guaidó was re-elected president of Venezuela’s National Assembly on January 5, 2020, with 100 votes – a clear majority of the 167-member legislature. Venezuela’s constitution stipulates that, pending election and inauguration of a new President, the National Assembly president assumes the interim presidency. In order to cast their votes, members of the Venezuelan National Assembly were forced to meet in an alternate location after Maduro dispatched his armed security forces on election day to block Juan Guaidó and National Assembly deputies from entering the Federal Legislative Palace.
In Washington, D.C., interim President Guaidó attended the State of the Union address as President Trump’s guest:
“Here this evening is a man who carries with him the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of all Venezuelans. Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó. Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland: All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom! Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”
“We will continue,” said a White House statement, “to work with our partners in the region to confront the illegitimate dictatorship in Venezuela, and we will stand alongside the Venezuelan people to ensure a future that is democratic and prosperous.”