The World vs Maduro

Along with the US, Canada and a group of Latin American countries, many European nations have recognised Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela. These include-France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands.

Background

Nicolas Maduro took office in Venezuela in 2013. Under his leadership, there has been a spike in inflation and shortage of goods. A drop in oil prices has added to the administration’s problems. He has retained power by weakening institutions and rigging elections. He has been accused of committing serious human rights abuses and engaging in rampant corruption. Despite having the world's largest proven oil deposits, many Venezuelans are now living in abject poverty.

The UN says 1.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country since the economic meltdown in 2015. Venezuela’s economy has contracted by 35 per cent since 2013, much larger than the one experienced by the USA during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

On 23 January 2019, Guaidó took a public oath to serve as interim President of Venezuela. Guaidó claims Maduro’s won the second term by  rigging the  elections in May 2018. Besides, the country’s National Assembly has branded Maduro as an illegitimate “usurper.”

Analysis

The political crisis in Venezuela is damaging the very essence of the country. European countries including France, Spain, Germany, Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands along with the US, Canada and other Latin American countries have shown their support for Juan Guaidó. They have also recognised him as the interim president of Venezuela.

The countries have voiced out their support in a combined effort as Maduro has crossed the deadline to call for fresh presidential elections. However, in an initial TV interview, Maduro said: “We don’t accept ultimatums from anyone. I refuse to call for elections now – there will be elections in 2024. We don’t care what Europe says.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, German Chancellor Angela Merkel are some European leaders who have recognised the Juan Guaidó. Jeremy Hunt, Britain's foreign secretary, said: "The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end.” He also expressed that the people of the country have suffered enough and it is the right time for a new beginning “with free and fair elections following in accordance with international democratic standards.”

In January, US President Donald Trump recognised Juan Guaido as the ‘legitimate’ President of Venezuela. In retaliation, Nicolas Maduro severed all diplomatic ties with Washington and asked all US Diplomatic staff to leave within 72 hours. The US National Security Advisor also issued an ultimatum to the Maduro faction in the ongoing unrest in Venezuela. Bolton’s threats come on the heels of his comments at the White House on Monday that many Venezuelan officers are considering defecting to Guaido’s side, and the excitement about a strategically visible scribble in his notepad about “5,000 troops to Colombia.” The government in Bogota, however, says it has no knowledge of any US troops arriving.

Amid the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, the president, Nicolas Maduro recently warned US president Donald Trump that if he intervenes in the crisis, then he would leave the White House “stained of blood”. In a combative interview addressed his speech towards president Trump interference into the political issue in Venezuela. He said, “Stop. Stop, Trump! Hold it right there! You are making mistakes that will leave your hands covered in blood and you will leave the presidency stained with blood.” Maduro said that he is re-considering revising his relations with countries that have not recognised him.

Meanwhile, Juan Guaidó in a video message claimed: “we are very close to reaching freedom as a result of the international support we have received”.

Counterpoint

Russia, on the other hand, said European moves to legitimise Guaidó’s “illegal attempt” to seize power amounted to foreign meddling. Russia has also urged restraint. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said that these interference could not "peaceful, effective and lasting settlement of the crisis the Venezuelans are going through.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that international support to Guaidó is increasing pressure on Maduro. We believe that with the backing of the military, further protests against him in the country would result in a civil war. Despite Maduro’s threats, we feel that limited foreign intervention could help bring a solution to the disastrous economic and social situation in the country. We also understand that the effect of the political crisis is spreading, due to Venezuela's impact on international oil prices.