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

Updated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 19,720,406 — Total deaths: 728,176 — Total recoveries — 11,970,444Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,032,299 — Total deaths: 162,751 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020 — Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective.
  5. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on.

Poll shows Biden leading Trump in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Joe Biden leads President Trump 48% to 42% in Wisconsin and 49% to 43% in Pennsylvania, according to the latest CBS/YouGov Battleground Tracker poll.

Why it matters: Trump's surprise wins in the two states, where many voters broke his way after deciding the week before the election, helped propel him to an Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton. Trump won Wisconsin with 47% of the vote and Pennsylvania with 48% in 2016, according to the New York Times.

Blumenthal calls classified briefing on Russian interference "absolutely chilling"

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) called on the Trump administration to declassify intelligence detailing Russian efforts to influence the 2020 elections, telling MSNBC on Sunday that the classified briefing lawmakers received about the Kremlin's activities last week was "absolutely chilling."

The big picture: National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said in a statement Friday that the Russian government is "using a range of measures" to "denigrate" Joe Biden ahead of the election. China and Iran would prefer that Trump is defeated, according to Evanina.