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A demonstrator wearing a gas mask on a bridge at the Venezuela border with Colombia. A demonstrator wearing a gas mask and carrying a shield calls for others to join him in confronting Venezuelan National Guardsmen blocking the entry of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid, La Parada, Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Has Time Run Out for Guaido in Venezuela?

Friday, March 6, 2020

There is no end in sight to the political and humanitarian crises that have overwhelmed Venezuela and spilled over into neighboring countries for the past several years. In fact, the protracted fight for control of the country has only meant additional suffering for its citizens, who are already living in the most dire conditions outside of a warzone in recent memory.

Even if the political stalemate is broken, there are no easy solutions for fixing the country’s economy, which was too dependent on oil and collapsed as global crude prices fell. But President Nicolas Maduro has shown more interest in consolidating his grip on power than making needed structural changes. The result has been growing shortages of food and basic supplies, widespread power outages and alarming rates of malnutrition.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to overthrow Maduro’s government in early 2019 with the backing of the United States appears to have backfired. Instead of seizing power, Guaido appears to have hardened political divisions within the country, resulting in an impasse. Meanwhile, Washington’s public attempts to help bring down Maduro’s socialist administration have pushed the Venezuelan leader to look to strengthen his partnerships with Russia and China.

The internal crisis has spilled out across South America as millions of Venezuelans have now fled the country in search of food and jobs. The exodus has fueled xenophobia and even violence against Venezuelans seeking refuge in neighboring countries. It has also stretched the capacity of regional governments and humanitarian organizations as they attempt to provide aid to Venezuelans fanned out across the region.

WPR has covered Venezuela in detail and continues to examine key questions about what will happen next. Will Washington abandon Guaido and instead seek to simply dislodge Maduro from atop the Venezuelan regime? As the crisis deepens, how long will the Maduro regime remain unified? Will public opinion in neighboring countries harden government policy toward Venezuelan refugees? Below are some of the highlights of WPR’s coverage.

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Our Most Recent Coverage

How Nicolas Maduro Is Surviving ‘Maximum Pressure’ in Venezuela

Despite a crippling economic and humanitarian crisis and an international pressure campaign to remove him from office, President Nicolas Maduro has been able to hang on to power in Venezuela. In an interview for WPR’s Trend Lines podcast, Raul Gallegos explains how.

Domestic Politics & Economy

In declaring himself interim president, Guaido claimed that Maduro’s 2018 reelection was a sham, with leading opposition figures blocked from contesting or refusing to even participate. Turnout was below 50 percent. However, despite widespread support and recognition from the international community, Guaido’s efforts to catalyze a popular uprising against the Maduro regime have fizzled, as have his attempts to bring security forces to his side.

U.S. Policy & International Implications

Washington’s backing of the Venezuelan opposition has made the country a flashpoint in international relations, as well as in America’s domestic politics in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Meanwhile, Venezuela has sought backing—and particularly economic support—from both Beijing and Moscow, creating a new arena for competition between the U.S. and its global rivals.

Regional Politics & Refugee Crisis

Even as battle lines have hardened within Venezuela, the country’s political crisis has also divided the region. The “pink tide” of leftist governments that swept over South American politics in the 2000s has largely retreated, and the right-wing governments that have come in its wake have little allegiance to the Maduro government. Instead, they see an ideological opponent and a humanitarian crisis that might destabilize the region, even as Washington has tried to rally support for Venezuela’s opposition from countries that might be more reluctant to weigh in.

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2019 and is regularly updated.

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