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Mac Margolis

Venezuela Has Hit a Dead End with Juan Guaido

Moral cachet won’t unseat Nicolas Maduro. But political compromise might.

Time is running out.

Time is running out.

Photographer: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty Images

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.