No movement gets anywhere without a publicity stunt these days, not even one to oust a president. The #GuaidoChallenge took off on Friday after Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez released video footage from a Caracas hotel, purportedly showing National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó meeting with Diosdado Cabello, the congressional leader of Maduro’s ruling Socialist party.
The clips show an unrecognizable man in a hoodie and baseball cap meeting with Cabello. Guaidó has denied the meeting. Anti-government Venezuelans supported Guaidó by sharing their own selfies, posing in hoodies and caps, with the hashtag #GuaidoChallenge.
Never one to pass an opportunity to bash Maduro or get some publicity, Florida Senator Marco Rubio jumped on board.
Rubio was followed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, and Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.
Rubio, who has advocated military intervention in Venezuela before, prompted an array of reactions.
“Is the challenge to make it look like you’re hiding out in the Colombian embassy because you don’t have any popular support in the country the US just appointed you to lead?” one asked, referring to Guaidó’s rumored whereabouts since he declared himself interim president last Wednesday.
“How shameful it must feel to have your family flee a US puppet, right-wing dictator, only to spend your career trying to impose them on the rest of Latin America,” wrote journalist Mike Prysner. A Cuban-American, Rubio’s family fled to the United States in 1956. Rubio has claimed that his parents fled communist “thug” Fidel Castro, but Cuba was in fact under the rule of US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista at the time.
Rubio’s show of solidarity did garner some support, however, with Americans donning their baggiest hoodies and sharing their own photos.
With Rubio handling social media duties, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the United Nations Security Council on Saturday, demanding that the world “pick a side” in the power struggle between Guaidó and Maduro. Pompeo’s State Department promised to give Guaidó “the resources he needs to lead the government of Venezuela,” including $20 million in humanitarian aid.
Maduro’s government considers the US’ endorsement of Guaidó a “vile” coup attempt, but has promised to allow US diplomats to conditionally stay in the country.
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