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Venezuela's political crisis: Timeline

Louisa Wright
January 30, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido are vying for control of the country. DW takes you through the key events since Guaido declared himself acting president.

Nicolas Maduro and Juan Guaido speaking to crowds
Image: Reuters/C. G. Rawlins - picture-alliance/dpa/Xinhua

January 23

Venezuela's political crisis began when opposition leader and president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself acting president.

  • The United States recognized Guaido as interim president.
  • President Maduro accused Guaido of attempting a coup.
  • Maduro declared he would break all diplomatic ties with Washington.
  • Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

Read more: Venezuela's Juan Guaido: Who is the interim president?

January 24

The world was divided into two sides, as countries started to express their support for either Maduro or Guaido.

  • Thirteen of the Lima Group's 14 members and Canada recognized Guaido.
  • Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and China supported Maduro.

January 25

The European Union started to speak up and called for fresh presidential elections in Venezuela.

  • Germany and Spain said Guaido should be recognized if new elections weren't held.
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told DW that Germany "stands on the side of Guaido."
  • EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini called for "free and credible elections."

Read more: Venezuela explained: Who backs Maduro, who backs Guaido?

January 26

The EU got further involved, with Germany, Spain and France giving Maduro eight days to call fresh elections or they would recognize Guaido as president.

  • The EU said "further actions" would be taken if the Venezuelan government failed to call elections.
  • Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza insisted that Maduro was the legitimate president.
  • Venezuela's defense attache to the US, Colonel Jose Luis Silva, broke with Maduro and backed Guaido.
  • Maduro suspended a directive for all US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.

Read more: Venezuela and the US: From friends to foes

January 27

Maduro and Guaido started to compete for control of Venezuela's military.

  • Maduro went on state TV with soldiers and said: "We're ready to defend our homeland — under any circumstance."
  • Guaido proposed an amnesty law that would protect soldiers if they helped overthrow Maduro.
  • Guaido called for protests to gain control of the army and back the EU ultimatum.
  • Israel and Australia recognized Guaido as interim president.

Read more: Venezuela: Who will the military support?

January 28

The US stepped up its response at a press briefing with US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

  • The US would place sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela.
  • Observers saw a veiled military threat —"5,000 troops to Colombia" — scrawled on Bolton's notepad.
  • Guaido announced he was taking control of the country's foreign assets.

January 29

Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice approved a preliminary investigation into Guaido's activities.

  • The court imposed a travel ban on Guaido and froze his bank accounts.

January 30

One week on, protestors hit the streets once more.

  • Maduro told Russian media that he rejected calls for a snap presidential election.
  • Thousands of Venezuelans demonstrated in support of Guaido.
  • Guaido penned a New York Times opinion piece, revealing his secret meetings with the military.

January 31

EU bodies and states reiterated calls for fresh presidential elections in Venezuela.

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