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Juan Guaidó, the "kid" who challenges Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela

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He was still unknown a few weeks ago. Juan Guaidó, a 35-year-old deputy, declared himself Venezuela's interim president on Wednesday after successfully mobilizing opposition to Nicolas Maduro. Portrait.

For Nicolas Maduro, it's "a kid who plays politics". Juan Guaidó, 35, was still unknown in Venezuela a few weeks ago. And now, Wednesday, January 23, he proclaimed himself acting president, an announcement that has received support from several countries without being supported by the Venezuelan army.

The young deputy, a tall, dark-skinned brunette, had an express climb. He became the youngest president of Parliament on 5 January, the only institution controlled by the opposition that he now embodies with his slender physique and his voice. "The personality factor is very important, notes Pascal Drouhaud, specialist of Latin America at the Institut Choiseul, on the set of France 24. He is very empathetic, he knows how to talk to the crowds, he speaks with passion."

>> To read also: "Venezuela: the self-proclaimed 'acting president' Juan Guaidó recognized by several countries"

Venezuela, "it is a country accustomed to incarnation (of power) and caudillism, and we are placing a heavy load on the shoulders of Juan (Guaidó) .The change does not depend only on it depends on everyone, "said MP Juan Andrés Mejia, who belongs as Juan Guaidó to Leopoldo Lopez's Popular Will party.

Supported by the United States

On January 13, footage of his arrest by the Venezuelan Intelligence Service (Sebin), during a spectacular operation in the middle of the highway, while traveling to a political meeting, circumnavigated the world. He will be released after one hour.

Two days later, US Vice President Mike Pence calls him to emphasize his "courageous leadership" and express the "firm support" of the United States to the National Assembly of Venezuela that they see as "the only legitimate democratic entity from this country".

>> To see: "'It is urgent to isolate the tyrant' says Ivan Duque, Colombian President"

Juan Guaidó multiplies the fronts against the chavist power (named after former President Hugo Chavez): proposal of a transitional government, Nicolas Maduro officially described as "usurper", promise of "amnesty" to the military accepting to Join the opposition … He is betting on a major mobilization Wednesday against the regime – mobilization that finally brought together tens of thousands of opponents in Caracas and the rest of the country.

Team spirit

Hitherto unaccustomed to speeches, this industrial engineer with modest origins has managed to remobilize the opponents of the socialist leader, taking the passage of the political depth. "One of his main qualities is to put teams in. He understands the different positions and does everything possible to become one," said MP Juan Andrés Mejia.

"I am a survivor, not a victim", likes to remind Juan Guaidó, married and father of a little girl, in reference to the tragedy of 1999 in the state of Vargas (north) which he will leave unscathed. In December of that year, heavy rains caused huge landslides in the area, 25 kilometers north of Caracas, killing 10,000 people, according to the Red Cross. He lived in this coastal region with his mother and five siblings. "I know what it's like to be hungry," he says.

Juan Guaidó debuted in politics in 2007 with the generation of students taking to the streets against the late ex-president Hugo Chavez (1999-2013). "Guaidó is a new face, seen as a man of consensus by the moderates and also respected by the radicals for having participated actively in the demonstrations", explains to AFP Diego Moya-Ocampos, analyst of the firm IHS Markit, based in London.

"Let's hope he does not disappoint us"

Founding member of the Popular Will party in 2009, he became one of the leaders, his leader Leopoldo Lopez having spent the last years in prison or under house arrest, accused of inciting violence during a wave of demonstrations in 2014 .

Alternate in 2010, Juan Guaidó was elected deputy of his state of Vargas in 2015. "I did not know who it was, let's hope he will not disappoint us," José Hernandez, 24, confided recently, attending one of his speeches.

In recent years, the previous rising figures of the opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles or Freddy Guevara, have disappeared from the political landscape, imprisoned, deprived of civil rights or in exile.

With AFP

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