By: Paige Hubbard
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido received a rock star’s welcome in Caracas on Thursday as he arrived for a rally where he said Russia and China did not back President Nicolas Maduro.
Most Western countries, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate head of state, but Russia and China have expressed support for Maduro.
But Guaido told supporters that Beijing and Moscow are simply following their business interests in the country.
China has lent more than $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, securing energy supplies for its fast-growing economy. Moscow has also signed billion-dollar deals for joint ventures on oil production.
Guaido has emerged from obscurity to challenge Maduro in recent months. He has declared a rival presidency. He has flouted a court travel ban with a regional tour to rally support against Maduro. And he also unsuccessfully led efforts to bring aid into the country.
Guaido has raised concerns about his own security and that of his family.
On Thursday, he called on the armed forces to guarantee security in the country.
Most of Venezuela’s top military officers have not defected from Maduro and many count military support as key to the ruling Socialist government.
Venezuela is reeling from power cuts, shortages and spiraling inflation. Maduro blames the U.S. and sanctions for the country’s economic woes.