Venezuela: What’s next for Nicolas Maduro?

What do you expect from another presidential term of President Nicolas Maduro? We could probably see a further isolation of Venezuela under Maduro as we just witnessed with the Lima Declaration, so how safe is Maduro’s position? Read few comments.

Nicolás Maduro. Credit:

W. Alejandro SanchezInternational Security Analyst

President Maduro has no intention of leaving power. The same can be said of his allies in the Venezuelan government and armed forces. Any analysis about Venezuela’s future must start with those two undeniable facts.

Beginning on 10 January, President Maduro will be considered an illegitimate president by most of the international community. For example, the government of Peru has stated that it will not allow President Maduro, family members and members of his cabinet, to enter Peruvian territory beginning on that date. It would not surprise me if other regional states follow this model. There is also the probability that Latin American nations will recall their ambassadors or remove other diplomatic personnel.

But here is the problem, these are governments which are already critical of the Venezuelan government, so we are not talking about “additional” isolation other than what we are already witnessing. Venezuela’s regional allies are Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua, along with a few Caribbean states (mostly because they still benefit from Venezuela oil, but even this will not last), along with extra-regional states like China, Iran, Russia and Turkey. If any of these countries withdrew their support (diplomatically or, even more important, when it comes to trade and economic aid), this would truly isolate Venezuela.

As for how “Safe” is President Maduro, the recent defection of Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa in addition to ongoing arrests of members of the armed forces highlight the constant discontent against Maduro and his close allies.

Alas, even if President Maduro were to resign tomorrow, the problem is not just him but the leadership of the armed forces, the controversial Constituent Assembly, cabinet of ministers, among others. What will they do if President Maduro leaves? It is ridiculous to believe that they will all resign and go home (or seek asylum someplace), and allow for a peaceful and democratic transfer of power. So the issue is not just how “safe” is President Maduro himself but the regime as a whole. And so far, in spite everything that has happened in the past few years, they remain firmly in control of the country.

Miguel Tinker SalasProfessor of Latin American Studies, Pomona College

Maduro confronts multiple challenges, the economic “recovery” that he announced last year has faltered. The bolivar continues to fall, oil production has not increased and he faces criticisms from within his own party and supporters who have failed to see an improvement in their lives.

The Venezuelan opposition to Maduro has largely imploded. They have been unable to present an alternative, either politically or economically to Maduro. Unable to rally support on the streets, they rely on foreign pressure to challenge Maduro while openly calling for a military coup.

Internationally, the elections of Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico changed the dynamics in the Lima Group. Despite the belligerent statements by Brazil and Colombia, Mexico refused to sign the declaration by the Lima group calling on the member nations to respect Venezuela’s sovereignty and adopt a position of non-intervention.

The US maintains a bellicose attitude, but the European union has appeared willing to accept negotiations spearheaded by Spain.

Maduro’s greatest challenge will remain the economy, if he is unable to tackle shortages, and inflation, his support will continue to erode.

Timothy GillPost-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Inter-American Policy and Research, Tulane University

The U.S., European Union, and the countries in the Lima Group, with the exception of Mexico, have opted not to recognize the Maduro government following the Venezuelan president’s inauguration this week. Maduro is already isolated by many of these countries and their leaders, but this move might have a more formal impact on diplomatic relations between the Venezuelan government and countries within and beyond the hemisphere. If governments don’t recognize Maduro as a leader, then this might lead to diminishing opportunities for formal interactions between these governments – or even the elimination of them. It’s possible, of course, that the Mexican government or other actors can play a constructive role in fostering dialogue between the government and the opposition, but it’s also possible that this recent maneuver might harden the Maduro regime and sever what’s left of existing ties between other countries and Venezuela. It will surely provide Maduro with fodder for his claims that there is a global conspiracy against his socialist government, led by the U.S. and promoted by U.S. allies.

Much of the global community is indeed in a difficult position with regards to Venezuela. Maduro has generally been intransigent and has continually defied many democratic norms. Many leaders want to properly respond to Maduro’s undemocratic behavior, but should they sever their ties, they might lose any future leverage they might wield in negotiations. It’s important that global leaders and global bodies that reject Maduro’s recent election be clear on what they would like to see from Maduro. If it’s simply the ouster of the regime, there is little incentive for the Venezuelan government to alter any of its undemocratic behavior.

Under the new term, we can expect more of the same from Maduro. It doesn’t appear likely that he will step down, and it doesn’t appear likely that he is willing to make any of the serious changes required to remedy the country’s economic problems. Other authoritarian leaders under similar economic conditions have also persisted for lengthy periods of time, Robert Mugabe and the Cuban government are just two examples. There are continual claims that someone or some group of individuals will overthrow Maduro, and we can surely believe that such sentiments exist. However, Maduro has stacked his administration with military leaders and put large parts of the economy under the direction of the military. So, we can also be sure that there are high-level military actors that continue to benefit from the current political-economic model. In most respects, then, the military continues has a friend in Maduro. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t rule out any possibility in the current context. The situation is so bleak that desperate actions are not unimaginable.

One Response

  1. Great post 😀

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