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Juan Guaidó Makes Surprise Appearance at Trump’s State of the Union Address

“Guaidó’s appearance may only be covered as a footnote in American media, but it illustrates Trump’s campaign strategy and the weakness within the Democratic party establishment in resisting American imperialism.”

For many viewers, the most notable event during President Trump’s State of the Union (SOTU) address was Speaker Nancy Pelosi symbolically tearing up his speech upon its completion. But Trump’s address also included a major surprise in the the attendance of Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó.

Guaidó’s attempted and failed coup of President Nicolás Maduro’s government may seem like old news, but the presidential crisis began just a year ago and currently 54 countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

In a whirlwind of impeachment news and the Iowa Democratic caucus debacle, Guaidó’s appearance may only be covered as a footnote in American media, but it illustrates Trump’s campaign strategy and the weakness within the Democratic party establishment in resisting American imperialism.


While Speaker Pelosi’s is receiving plaudits for her symbolic destruction of Trump’s speech, she and the majority of the Democratic Congress members in attendance gave a standing round of applause for Guaidó after the President’s warm words.

During his speech, Trump said, “here this evening, is a very brave man, who carries with him the hopes, dreams and aspirations of all Venezuelans…the true and legitimate president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.”

During a time of heightened partisanship and the impeachment proceedings of a sitting president, some might be surprised by the bipartisan cheer. However, it is just one of many stark displays of the shortcomings of any resistance to Donald Trump led by the Democratic leadership.

One only needs to look back to December, when an absolutely massive $738 billion defense spending bill flew threw the House and Senate with broad support from both sides. Rather than mount any kind of defense, the Democratic leadership chose to gift-wrap Trump a defense spending increase while the American military is aiding the Saudi bombing campaign of Yemen and ratcheting up tensions with Iran.

One of the few Democratic representatives who opposed the bill, Ro Khanna said, “this defense budget is $120 billion more than what Obama left us with. That could fund free public college for every American. It could fund access to high-speed, affordable internet for every American. But it’s worse. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Yemen: stripped by the White House. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran: stripped by the White House.”

So while pundits fawn over Pelosi’s performative resistance, American imperialism and its war effort are only growing stronger.

Trump’s foreign policy and beyond

While a consistent Trump foreign policy has been hard to pin down, the United States has been a strong proponent of regime change in Venezuela from the jump, and it was one of the first countries to recognize Guaidó.

While elements of the Republican Party have been frothing at the mouth to overthrow Maduro’s government, including Marco Rubio mentioning Venezuelan oil, it has been relatively quiet on that front in recent months.

However, as Trump prepares to mount his 2020 reelection bid, the Maduro government serves as an easy punching bag and rhetorical tool for Trump to hammer on.

During his recognition of Guaidó in his SOTU address, Trump repeatedly called Maduro a “socialist dictator.”.

“Please take this message back that all Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” Trump said directed to Guaidó.

In this speech and in many before, Trump has outlined Venezuela as a brutal socialist country in which citizen’s freedom is severely limited. This appeal to freedom is more directed at the American public, and it is a sign of things to come in terms of the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

The plight of the Venezuelan people is beside the point for most American politicians, rather the news event serves as a vehicle for which they can exert and consolidate power.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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