Juan Guaido: No Bill Clinton but he certainly has something

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Cloak and dagger isn’t in it. We were told to head on our motorbikes to an address in downtown Caracas for a meeting with the opposition leader Juan Guaido, except the meeting wasn’t going to be there.

The meeting had been set for an apartment block. In Caracas that is about as accurate as saying it is in a building – the city is entirely made up of apartment blocks.

For security reasons a bunch of foreigners are better off either hiding or staying on their bikes driving around town. We chose the latter, waiting for the call. It finally came.

Pulling up we were ushered inside and put in a lift.

Guaido’s security guards were super jumpy and uncomfortable.

I asked if they were worried for their boss’s life. “Totally” was the succinct reply.

In the dimly lit elevator I could see the team was anxious. It wasn’t so much about the security, but knowing we had a few minutes to set up our equipment and do the interview before being chucked out.

We were shown to an apartment and greeted by another Spanish crew who were preparing for their turn with the man who would, temporarily at least, be President of Venezuela.

They were led away and it became clear there was another location for the interview. We were told to wait.

The first proper television interview with a British broadcaster is a nice thing. But it raises the stakes.

Our turn came and we were led to another lift and another floor. The door to the new apartment opened and we were taken into a beautifully appointed and busy living room.

At a desk Guaido sat signing important looking documents while a constant stream of advisers whispered in his ear, answered phones and sent texts.

He looked up for a moment as we approached and shook my hand before others immediately caught his attention with urgent questions.

My first thoughts were simple. He maybe called interim president and he may be recognised by Donald Trump and a host of other countries, including European governments in the coming days, but he is basically on the run.

The apparent head of security pulled me aside while the team set up lights, microphones and cameras.

“Look we have a security alert, you can’t have more than seven minutes, is that OK?” he said.

“There are other reporters coming, we need you out.”

I nodded and said I would keep asking questions until I was told to stop.

“Don’t worry I’ll stop you,” he said with a smile, although he didn’t seem awfully friendly.

Juan Guaido is almost always beautifully dressed and beautifully courteous. Dominique, our producer, says he is like a latin Obama to look at. He actually is if you look at the pictures. He is also extremely young.

He is very serious though and given what he is attempting to pull off here I am not at all surprised.

Over the last week we have tracked his every public appearance; following on bikes, pushing through crowds, catching a quick chat on camera.

Some have said he lacks charisma and is poor at public speaking.

I’m not so sure. He has something. He isn’t in the same league as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela or Boris Yeltsin for example, who, I have experienced, sucked the oxygen out of every room they walked into, but he certainly has something.

It could just be honesty and conviction.

We touched on many subjects in my allotted time.

He warned that new protests planned this week will likely become violent because security forces will attack.

He said meetings with Maduro were pointless as they would make no headway, that 80 percent of the military were against the government’s actions along with 85 percent of the population.

He called for international assistance to rebuild the country after Maduro has gone.

He accepted that his life was in danger and that his family live in fear as well.

Then the smiling security chief said it was over. Time up.

We all shook hands with Mr Guaido. He smiled and thanked us for coming before turning back to a queue of staff and welcomed another TV crew.

We packed and left. Speeding through heavy traffic on our bikes to file our story.

A new week has started. I can’t help feel it’s going to be a big one. I just have no clue what direction it will take.

(c) Sky News 2019: Juan Guaido: No Bill Clinton but he certainly has something

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