In response, Maduro announced on Wednesday he was breaking off diplomatic ties with the United States.
Raising his right hand in union with tens of thousands of supporters, Guaido, the fresh-faced head of the opposition-controlled congress, took a symbolic oath before God to assume the executive powers he says are his right under Venezuela’s constitution, and take over the presidency until new elections can be called.
“We know that this will have consequences,” he shouted, moments before leading the crowd in a dramatic rendering of Venezuela’s national anthem. “To be able to achieve this task and to re-establish the constitution we need the agreement of all Venezuelans.”
The declaration came as tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators poured into the streets Wednesday accusing embattled Maduro of usurping power and demanding he step down as the country reels from a crushing economic crisis forcing millions to flee or go hungry.