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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

1 hour ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary published Sunday.

Why it matters: Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier was used as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.