Washington D.C., Feb 5, 2020 / 12:00 pm
President Donald Trump used the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening to highlight U.S. commitment to restoring democracy in Venezuela, inviting the opposition leader to attend as a guest of honor.
Juan Guaidó, leader of Venezuela's National Assembly and recognized by the U.S. as the interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, watched the speech from the House Gallery on Tuesday.
"Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland," Trump told Guaidó. "All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom! Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul."
Venezuela has been torn by violence, upheaval, widespread hunger and hyperinflation under the Nicolas Maduro regime. According to the Organization of American States (OAS), the number of Venezuelans fleeing the country is expected to total 6 million by the end of the year.