CARACAS, Venezuela — Juan Guaido became the face of Venezuela’s opposition movement last year. He used a loophole in the country's constitution to declare himself president and promised to oust President Nicolas Maduro and transition to free and fair elections.
More than 50 countries pledged their money and support. Millions of people took to the streets in thousands of anti-government protests throughout Venezuela.
A year later, Guaido has yet to deliver on either promise, and his movement has struggled to maintain momentum, drawing ever-smaller crowds. And those who take to the streets can expect with almost 100 percent certainty that their march will be met by suppression such as tear gas, rubber bullets, power hoses, and sometimes live ammunition.
“We always went to the protests organized by the opposition,” said Monica Rangel, a marketing consultant in Caracas. Her husband was almost killed during a protest last year when an armored vehicle drove into a crowd. “It's always the same: Someone's wounded, killed, or arrested.”
On Thursday, two of Guaido’s allies were arrested by intelligence agents from their homes. This means there are 10 political prisoners from Guaido’s party currently in detention.
“We're all at risk of being arrested and, in Venezuela, the dictatorship uses the judiciary to smother and repress opposing voices,” said Reinaldo Marrero, the brother of Guaido’s chief of staff, who's been in detention for the past year. “There are political prisoners [who have been imprisoned for] 8 to 17 years from other eras, where they completed their sentences and are still imprisoned.”
VICE News followed three opposition supporters through the first anti-government protest of 2020 to see if Juan Guaido can breathe life into a flagging movement.
Cover: Gindel Delgado/VICE News.