Guaido the ‘democratically elected’ leader of Venezuela, can’t be accused of calling for a coup: regional policy expert

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaido is the “democratically elected” leader of his country, and therefore cannot be accused of calling for a coup, according to an expert on policy in the region.

Ana Quintana, a Senior Policy Analyst on Latin America for the Heritage Foundation, told “Fox & Friends” Wednesday that the events unfolding between the government and Venezuelans were not the actions of a military coup – but rather a duty to the constitution.

“Juan Guaido is the democratically elected interim-president of Venezuela. You can’t have a coup against a dictator who stole an election. A dictator who represses his people,” Quintana told the show’s hosts.

“I think the Russians need to realize it’s no longer 2012 and President Obama is no longer in the White House,” Quintana said. “I think this is a moment for Moscow to re-evaluate whether Venezuela is truly worth escalating the crisis with the United States.”

She also called upon American allies to get involved and help decrease political violence.

“The time is ticking by and it’s about time that they ramp up their pressure against Nicholas Maduro. Because, right now it’s only been the United States who’s implemented a strong sanctions regime against Maduro regime,” Quintana told viewers.

Her comments come a day after the U.S. made an official statement discrediting Maduro’s claims.

“This is clearly not a coup. We recognize Juan Guido as the legitimate interim- president of Venezuela,” National Security Advisor John Bolton told reporters Tuesday.

Protesting from both sides has intensified since Guaido, who calls himself the “legitimate commander in chief of armed forces,” released a video message on Tuesday, alerting the Venezuelan people that the final phase of “Operation Freedom” was to rally the support of the military against Maduro.

On Wednesday, Guaidó said that the opposition will need to step up its pressure against President Nicolás Maduro. And he called on supporters to take steps toward a general strike.

With his sleeves rolled up, the 35-year-old lawmaker said his movement is winning, despite the lack of military response on Tuesday. In his words, “The usurper has lost.”

Guaidó is recognized as the country’s legitimate president by the U.S. and more than 50 other nations.