CARACAS – Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a “failed clown” after the US official congratulated the country’s opposition figure Juan Guaido for claiming reelection as “parliament speaker”.
In a state TV address on Tuesday, Maduro described Guaido’s swearing-in ceremony as “a show” and said the US President Donald Trump’s administration “is going to continue failing and failing and failing and Mike Pompeo will continue to stage the show, the clowning”, PressTV reported.
“He ends up being a failed clown,” Maduro said.
The US State Department had also earlier threatened Caracas that if Guaido were arrested, Washington would take measures “that go much further” than those already adopted against the Venezuelan government, including even harsher economic sanctions.
Pro-government Legislator Luis Parra was sworn in as the new speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly on Sunday as security forces prevented Guaido and allied lawmakers from entering the building. Guaido was seen clashing with security forces to enter the parliament. He was also shown attempting to climb over the railing around the National Assembly premises to gain entry as police officers pushed him back with riot shields.
That prompted Guaido and other opposition legislators to hold their own election for chief of the National Assembly at a newspaper office. Hours after Parra was sworn in, Guaido claimed that he was re-elected as speaker in that vote.
On Tuesday, however, Guaido and nearly 100 allied opposition lawmakers stormed the parliament building in Caracas to reinstall the US-backed figure as their leader while government troops surrounded it to keep them out. Video images in social media showed the opposition figure and his backers physically forcing their way into the legislature to cheers of “Viva Venezuela!”
Inside, Guaido was sworn in for a second term as Venezuela’s “caretaker leader”, even though the auditorium’s electricity had been cut, according to Western reports. Pompeo later announced that Washington recognized Guaido as the “president of the Venezuelan National Assembly”. Later on Tuesday, Guaido reportedly called for protests for Friday, Saturday, and next Tuesday as he urged “all of Venezuela” to demonstrate.
“It is time to rise up and rise up with strength,” he declared.
Guiado has previously attempted a coup against the legitimate Venezuelan government. The coup attempt, supported by a very small number of rogue soldiers petered out very quickly. Venezuela plunged into political turmoil in January when Guaido declared himself “interim president” of the country, rejecting the outcome of the May 2018 election, which incumbent Maduro had won.