Davos - World Economic Forum
Davos - World Economic Forum

Venezuela crisis is 'comparative to Syria': Opposition leader Juan Guaido pleads for international support in Davos

Key Points
  • Guaido's arrival in Davos comes exactly one year after the opposition leader declared himself to be Venezuela's rightful interim president.
  • But President Nicolas Maduro — with the broad support of the military — has refused to cede power.
  • Venezuela is in the midst of one of the Western Hemisphere's worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, with about 4.5 million people having fled the country since 2015 amid an economic meltdown.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido addresses the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 23, 2020.
FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP via Getty Images

DAVOS, Switzerland — Venezuela's Juan Guaido pleaded for international support at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, saying the deepening crisis in Caracas was "comparative to Syria."

His arrival in Davos comes exactly one year after the National Assembly leader took to the streets to declare himself the South American country's rightful interim president.

At the time, it marked the boldest challenge to President Nicolas Maduro's leadership in years.

But Maduro — with the broad support of the military — has refused to cede power.

In an emotional address to world leaders at the forum, Guaido said the oil-rich but cash-poor country is facing an "international criminal conglomerate, and we need your help."

Venezuela is in the midst of one of the Western Hemisphere's worst humanitarian crises in recent memory, with approximately 4.5 million people having fled the country since 2015 amid an economic meltdown.

'We want to take action'

In addition to convening at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Guaido held bilateral meetings with the leaders of Colombia and Britain before arriving in Davos.

He conceded "it was a risk" to have made the journey to Davos, given he had been forced to launch a daring bid to return to Venezuela the last time he ventured outside the country's borders.

However, speaking to reporters at a press conference on Thursday, he was quick to point out that "it is a risk to be Venezuelan" at the moment, too.

VIDEO6:1606:16
Venezuela's Juan Guaidó is going up against Maduro's regime

Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela's legitimate interim leader by more than 50 countries, including the U.S.

Maduro has accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the U.S. He has frequently claimed President Donald Trump's administration is trying to govern Venezuela from Washington.

The U.S. has recently suggested it could impose additional economic sanctions on senior figures of Maduro's government.

When asked by CNBC how Guaido could ensure the country does not have to endure a second year of political stalemate, he replied: "It is possible that they might vote me off or they might vote for terrorists. It is difficult to predict."

"[But] the country is united behind us ... We want to take action."