Jan 5, 2020

Maduro attempts to seize power of Venezuelan legislature

Dave Lawler, author of World

Juan Guaidó climbs a railing in an attempt to reach the National Assembly building in Caracas, Jan. 5. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images

Venezuela’s government disrupted a National Assembly leadership election on Sunday, with security forces forcibly blocking opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who is recognized by the U.S. and nearly 60 other countries as the legitimate president — from entering the chamber so it could swear in a candidate loyal to President Nicolás Maduro.

Why it matters: Guaidó’s international legitimacy rests on the fact that, as assembly president, he is Venezuela’s highest-ranking official to have been democratically elected. Sunday's events could muddy those waters and further strengthen Maduro’s hold on power. 

The big picture: The hope that desperate Venezuelans placed in Guaidó after he proclaimed himself president last January has gradually faded, particularly after an audacious attempt to seize power failed in April.

  • Today, Maduro pressed his advantage. The move followed allegations that Maduro was attempting to use bribery to fix the vote. 
  • The opposition could struggle to regroup now after apparently losing control of what had been the last government institution not controlled by Maduro’s autocratic regime. 

Flashback: Asked last month by Axios about this scenario — in which a Maduro loyalist claimed the assembly presidency by dubious means — Colombia’s ambassador to Washington shook his head: “We don't even want to think about that.”

Go deeper: Venezuela's Maduro survives 2019

Go deeper

Updated 12 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Over 500 schools in South Korea have either closed or postponed reopening, according to the Korea Times, which cites data from the Ministry of Education.

Why it matters: South Korea has been a model for how to handle the novel coronavirus, and the closures reportedly followed concerns from parents and teachers over child safety. The country's confirmed death toll has plateaued at 269 over the past few days, with few increases, per Johns Hopkins data.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,877,503— Total deaths: 362,731 — Total recoveries — 2,464,595Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,735,971 — Total deaths: 102,286 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Supreme Court: Senators Grassley, Leahy urge Supreme Court to continue live streams post-pandemic.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  7. 🚀 Space: How to virtually watch SpaceX's first crewed launch Saturday.

Trump to end Hong Kong’s special trade status

President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. would be fundamentally changing longstanding policies toward Hong Kong as a result of Chinese encroachment on the city's autonomy.

Why it matters: Trump said he would be effectively ending the special trade status that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish as a gateway to the Chinese market. That leaves an uncertain future for businesses that operate in Hong Kong, not to mention the city's 7 million residents, and could be met with reprisals from Beijing.