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A man wearing a Venezuelan flag protesting Nicolás Maduro's government after Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 23. Photo: Edilzon Gamez via Getty Images

The president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself interim president during a Wednesday rally held as part of a day of national protests, with hundreds of thousands across Venezuela marching against Nicolás Maduro. President Trump recognized Guaidó, along with Canada and 11 other Latin American countries.

Why it matters: The next few days — and Maduro’s response — will be crucial for the future of Venezuela, which holds the world’s largest oil reserves. The path forward will be determined by whether the military, including lower ranks, stays united in backing Maduro and how the interim government consolidates power.

Background: Maduro assumed a second term in office on Jan. 10, following elections widely condemned as illegitimate and fraudulent. Guaidó, who was recently sworn in as president of the democratically elected National Assembly, said Maduro was a “usurper” of the office. Without a legitimate president, the office becomes vacant, and the head of the National Assembly is constitutionally entitled to assume the role of interim president and must call elections within 45 days.

The stakes are global. Maduro’s international backers are not backing down, and neither are Guaidó supporters.

Where it stands: Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats to leave within 72 hours, but Secretary of State Pompeo has rejected that demand. Guaidó, meanwhile, has asked all foreign diplomats to stay.

What to watch: It would be well in line with Maduro’s modus operandi to ramp up repression and violence. Any threats against foreign diplomats could lead to swift international action. So too could the arrest of Guaidó and others in the National Assembly leadership. In such a scenario, whom the military sides with and who controls Venezuela’s assets abroad would prove decisive for the country’s future.

Jason Marczak is director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

Go deeper

54 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

The perils of organizing underground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.