Venezuela: A New Stage of Polarization?

On the 24th of February Diosdado Cabello, chavista strongman who moves behind the scenes, leads an important sector of the military, and contends a considerable portion of government power in the country, promised to wait for the return of Interim President Juan Guaidó with a “reception committee” in Maiquetía in what could only be interpreted as a direct threat of detention. Yet Guiadó, now Venezuela´s most popular political figure (Datanalisis polls indicates that Guaidó would obtain 77% of votes against Maduro in a presidential election), was received not by military personal or intelligence officers, but rather large crowds of supporters and international diplomatic representatives. Migrations officer offered no obstacles to his entry, but rather facilitated his access via the VIP line used for government officials and diplomats. From the airport he travelled directly to the mobilizations in Caracas, stopping only briefly in the highway to salute his supporters in a Hollywood like display of popular support. It is safe to say that Nicolás Maduro and his allies decided that the political cost of detaining such a high-profile opposition leader outweighed the costs of allowing him to continue his activities with relative freedom in Venezuela.

Guaidó´s return was not only a triumphal act of defiance, but also the closure to a tour of Latin-American countries that have supported his interim presidency. Visiting Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Ecuador and Panama, he was able to meet face to face with his diplomatic representatives in those countries, and more importantly, with the political leadership of key Latin-American players members of the Group of Lima that are advocating for democratic transition. Not a small feat after the enormous but rather disappointing events (international concert followed by aid delivery attempt) on the border and the impossibility of introducing international assistance into Venezuela.

Yet the clock is ticking, and that is good news for Nicolás Maduro. Since 2013 it has become clear that time usually plays in favor of chavismo and their relentless grasp of power, as it contributes to the demoralization and demobilization of Venezuelan society which is frequently too exhausted from generalized hardships to be preoccupied with street protests that have presented few results in the past while they are also relatively dangerous considering the systematic actions of government forces against them.

Meanwhile, at the highest levels of international dispute, the United Nations Security Council, the powers with vested interests in Venezuela are at a standstill. Two draft resolutions were presented by the United States and Russia, both went unapproved.

Venezuela´s Global Deadlock
Andrés Serbin, Andrei Serbin Pont
In a country ravaged by a humanitarian crisis due to the unprecedented lack of capacity by governing actors to adequately manage the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the political confrontation is intertwined between domestic, regional and global interests.

The first resolution called for democratic elections in Venezuela and a recognition of Guaidó as Interim President, but was vetoed by Russia and China as they interpreted the document as an attempt to further corrode the legitimacy of Maduro. The Russian draft did not fare well, calling for dialogue in a country with an unsatisfactory track record in political dialogue, it received 7 votes against and 4 abstentions. While some may perceive these resolutions as a failure of both sides, in practice it is another example of chavismo´s capability to contain initiatives in international spheres thanks to the political capital accumulated by former President Chávez, even if those capacities have become increasingly corroded in the last six years.
Does the Crisis in Venezuela Mean Collapse of Chavismo Ideology?
Oleg Barabanov
Regardless of who wins in the Venezuelan crisis, Nicolas Maduro or his opponents, the results of the Chavista policy today make it fully justified to ask whether there is any radical limit in left-wing politics in the modern globalized world.

Yet the risks are still high: lack of resolution to Venezuela´s political standstill in combination with a deepening of the social and economic collapse, exponential growth of migration to the region, the current power outage that has more than half of the country without electricity, and the impossibility of agreement amongst relevant international actors such as the United States, Russia, the European Union and China, strengthens the discourse of the most radical sectors in Venezuela(both within chavismo and opposition ranks) which call for harsher and more violent methods to overcome the current political dead stop. This means that we might be approaching a confluence of militaristic interests, in which Maduro sees externalization of the crisis as a viable means to reconvene support within the armed forces, radical figures like Maria Corina Machado openly call for United States military intervention, and Trump draws his last few cards before implementing a violent “solution”. At times like these, multilateral initiatives such as the Group of Lima and efforts by the European Union become key elements in containing extremists and channeling efforts to ensure a democratic and peaceful outcome.
Will Venezuelan Parliamentary Elections End the Deadlock?
Andrei Korobkov
The crisis in Venezuela grows more complex with each passing day. At first, President Nicolas Maduro declared that he was willing to consider the possibility of early parliamentary elections. But it is clear that this proposal is absolutely unacceptable for the opposition, which already wields a majority in the legislature and has the US firmly behind it.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.