Don’t Count Venezuela’s Opposition Out Just Yet

Don’t Count Venezuela’s Opposition Out Just Yet
Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, who has been banned from running for office, is embraced by supporters at a rally where she asked them to keep the faith, in San Antonio, Venezuela, April 17, 2024 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

Venezuela’s regime, led by President Nicolas Maduro, will probably remain in power after elections scheduled for late July. Yet, for the first time in years, the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, seems nervous, and the political opposition appears optimistic about its prospects.

The reason nearly everyone expects Maduro to remain in power is that he has proven to be a survivor since he took office in 2013 after the death of former President Hugo Chavez, who founded the Chavista movement that serves as the regime’s base of support. Maduro owes his success to political savvy when it comes to understanding exactly how far he can go in antagonizing his international opponents, but also to a violent machine of domestic repression that has killed and jailed tens of thousands and forced millions into exile.

In addition to a demonstrated willingness to use whatever cruel and inhumane means are necessary to repress his opponents, Maduro has also shown a craftiness in outmaneuvering them. When the PSUV lost its majority in the national assembly in 2015, Maduro manipulated the rules to prevent the opposition from using the legislature to check the executive branch’s authority in any significant way.

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