When he climbed to the national stage early last year, Juan Guaido filled Venezuelans with expectation. Young, articulate and coolly confident, he was a fresh face in a country of stale problems. With legacy opposition leaders jailed, hiding or in exile, Guaido brought brio and apparent international muscle — Donald Trump, most loudly — to the fight to restore the nation’s damaged democracy. A picture shared widely at the time showed Guaido standing before a billowing Venezuelan flag and brandishing a portrait of Simon Bolivar, the go-to muse of Latin American rebellion.
What would the portrait show now? Two years on, Guaido’s star has dimmed. He’s president only of a shadow government with moral cachet and little more. Although some 5 million Venezuelans have abandoned the country, some high-ranking regime loyalists among them, de facto President Nicolas Maduro is going nowhere.