CARACAS, VENEZUELA - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido named a new shadow cabinet on Wednesday, launching the latest phase of his campaign aimed at forcing President Nicolas Maduro from power.
The new team — including heavyweight opposition figures Leopoldo Lopez and Julio Borges — will be dedicated to preparing for a transitional government and new elections, said Guaido, who claimed presidential powers in late January as head of the National Assembly, saying Maduro's election last year was a fraud.
Guaido has since gained support from more than 50 nations, named several foreign ambassadors to represent him abroad and appointed a board to oversee U.S.-based Citgo refineries, Venezuela's most valuable foreign asset.
But the opposition leader has yet to wrest power from Maduro after seven months of trying.
Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez, a geopolitical risk analyst who teaches at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, said Guaido's so-called interim government functions more tangibly outside of Venezuela than at home.
“The shadow cabinet is relevant, however, in terms of shoring up domestic belief that the transition continues — despite its painfully drawn-out timeline,” Lansberg-Rodriguez said. “Any movement signals advancement to a certain extent.”
Guaido said he's calling on his political mentor Lopez to serve as general coordinator, though Lopez has lived in the Spanish ambassador's home in Caracas for protection since launching a failed military uprising with Guaido on April 30.
Opposition lawmaker Borges, who lives in exile in Colombia, will oversee Guaido's foreign relations, and other members of his team will deal with economic development, asset recovery and human rights.
For his part, Maduro rejects Guaido as a puppet of the U.S. government, which he says is bent on exploiting Venezuela's vast oil wealth. Despite the South American country's deepening crisis, the socialist leader remains in office with support from the Venezuelan military and nations including Cuba, Russia, China and Turkey.