A large crowd rallied around Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido in a peaceful protest on Saturday, answering the opposition leader’s call to take to the streets in an attempt to reignite a campaign aimed at forcing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power.
Guaido in a speech urged supporters to remain in the streets in the days ahead, pointing to the recent upheaval in Bolivia, where 18 days of protests prompted the resignation of Maduro’s ally, former Bolivian president Evo Morales.
“If we stay at home, we will lose,” Guaido said before marching peacefully with a small group of supporters to the Bolivian embassy in eastern Caracas, an opposition stronghold.
“Today, tomorrow and Monday — we will be in the streets,” Guaido said.
It was not clear he would be able to sustain momentum.
The crowds in Caracas where Guaido spoke were larger than they had been in months — with an estimated five blocks of a wide Caracas Avenue crowded with thousands of supporters.
However, they lacked the size and combativeness of demonstrations in January, when Guaido declared himself the nation’s president, arguing that Maduro had “usurped” power and violated the constitution by starting a second term widely seen by opponents as illegitimate.
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, a geopolitical risk analyst who teaches at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said the march was not likely what Guaido and his supporters had hoped for, especially as the region has been inflamed with mass urban protest.
However, “I’d be wary of proclaiming an ignominious end to the Guaido movement,” he said, noting that millions of Venezuelans have migrated and the government’s heavy-handed response to protests has scared away others.
Maduro’s party also called on its members to demonstrate in solidarity with Morales, and their rally culminated in the center of Caracas several kilometers from the opposition’s.
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