Juan Guaidó’s claim to power thrills and worries the crowds on the streets of Caracas

It was Friday lunchtime in Venezuela’s crumbling capital and Omar Mejías – for years a disciple of the comandante Hugo Chávez – had come to a plaza in the city’s east for what he hoped might be a glimpse of a brighter future.

On stage before him stood Juan Guaidó, a fresh-faced and until recently little-known politician, catapulted into the spotlight last week by the decision of the United States – and then a succession of other world powers – to recognise him, and not the incumbent Nicolás Maduro, as the legitimate president of this oil-rich but economically ravaged South American nation.

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