Venezuela’s political superstar Guaido shines on, as Maduro refuses to budge | World News
The enthusiasm to take to the streets of Venezuela to protest against the rule of Nicolas Maduro seems undimmed after four weeks of this so-called rebellion.
We haven’t missed one yet, nor have hundreds of thousands, who flooded in to towns and city centres all over the country.
The capital Caracas is host to the biggest crowds.
We joined thousands of people stretching as far as the eye could see as they converged on Avenida Fransisco de Miranda, a huge avenue in the centre of the city.
People danced and sang their support for the opposition leader Juan Guaido but spent about equal time attacking the rule of Mr Maduro.
There is a party atmosphere and it is infectious.
People stop and talk to us constantly. They are often amazed we are from the UK and enthusiastically shake hands and pose for our cameras.
But they are turning out religiously to see the youthful interim first couple, Mr Guaido and his wife, Fabiana Rosales.
He has become the torch bearer of the opposition movement.
The crowds now love him. Just getting to the stage to address them is a mission for his security guards, who try to open a route while their boss stops constantly to talk to people and pose for selfies.
Mr Guido was an obscure politician a short while ago, he is now a superstar.
He took to the stage to urge people to continue taking to the streets to protest against Mr Maduro.
But its the unscripted stuff that people love. He hangs on to scaffolding waving to the crowds who couldn’t see the front of the stage.
He took a selfie of himself with the crowd behind him. They erupted. The crowd was huge.
A pesar de la dificultad y de que atravesamos la crisis más profunda, no nos rendimos.
¡Estamos y seguiremos en la calle!
Esta foto la tomé hoy, para mostrarle al mundo los rostros de la esperanza y que volvamos a creer en nosotros mismos.
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 12, 2019
The problem is that many here thought that Mr Maduro’s reign would have ended by now. But he is steadfastly refusing to budge.
Lillian Tintori, the wife of an imprisoned opposition icon, Leopoldo Lopez, but now an icon in her own right, is widely credited with convincing foreign nations and in particular the United States to support the opposition move here.
I caught up with her on the street, shaking hands and posing for selfies with adoring fans as she made her way to the stage.
I asked her when Mr Maduro would go.
“Today or tomorrow. Soon. Soon of course, because we have people – and Maduro only has arms, arms and violence, and Venezuelans don’t want that,” she told me.
The opposition desperately want this to be a peaceful transition but more and more people are expecting violence.
Mr Maduro, they say, will just refuse to stand down.
I asked one man in the crowd what comes next, his response was frank, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t know but I suppose… it has to be [violent], it has to be. I’m sorry but it does.”
Across town, crowds also gathered for a pro-Maduro rally.
In truth it was actually much more jolly. Samba bands played and people danced in the street.
The red shirts of the ruling party adding to the colour of the occasion.
But however one viewed it the numbers were tiny in comparison to the opposition’s showing.
The square where it was held and streets surrounding it are very small.
What it does show is that there is at least some reasonable support for Mr Maduro. And none of the people we spoke to appeared to even consider supporting the opposition.
This is a political crisis and it is at an impasse; it is very unclear what could break it.
Mr Maduro has effectively lost the streets but he hasn’t lost the military. For now at least that gives him the upper hand.