Venezuela’s “Tsunami Politico”
A seismic-shift is underway in Venezuela, with myriad implications worldwide. This is “Cuba on steroids”, with the titanic exception of a population “who once had everything” in a globally connected society, then “lost everything” under exceptionally poor governance, all while continuing to preside over unparalleled concentrations of natural resource wealth.
For those who understand the culture, society and follow events in Venezuela, the current situation and accelerated demise of President Maduro’s “Chavista” regime has a ring of finality – an overdue outcome to witness, study and document. Venezuela’s “next government” and entire Western Hemisphere, must have a cohesive plan moving forward. It appears the early chapters of transition were already written, now playing out coinciding with significant historical, recent & upcoming events:
· – Juan Guaidó chosen to lead the Venezuela National Assembly, an elected body widely recognized as the only remaining entity with a mandate from the people
· – President Maduro’s inauguration for a second, six-year term based on a rigged-election in May 2018, and boycotted by the opposition
· – mass demonstrations across the Country and embassies around the world to coincide with this date in 1958 when a civilian-military movement overthrew the government of the Country’s last dictator, General Marcos Pérez Jiménez
· – Caracas, Juan Guaidó, speaking to tens of thousands of supporters at the main opposition rally, declares himself “acting” President of Venezuela (referencing a clause in the current Constitution to legitimize the action) – his claim quickly recognized by the Organization of American States (OAS) and several governments, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and United States
· – President Maduro (now disputed) announces cutting diplomatic ties with the United States: all embassy personnel ordered to leave within 72 hours; subsequently, “acting” President Juan Guaidó requests the United States diplomatic mission remain in the Country
· – deadline looms per “disputed” President Maduro’s call for all United States diplomatic personnel to depart Venezuela
· – in eight days-time, the 20th anniversary of the first Inauguration of President Hugo Chavez – for “Chavistas” and opposition followers, a significant date
It is clear Venezuela’s “opposition in-exile” had a plan developed to remove the current government from power, finally set in-play by a convergence of events favorable for launch. Today, confrontations loom as “acting President” Juan Guaidó has stated “demonstrations and rallies will continue until liberty is achieved”. The current situation is complex but not surprising – if scripted, a compelling end to the “Chavista Era” would culminate with Nicolas Maduro standing down at the recommendation of the Armed Forces, “acting President” Juan Guaidó addressing the nation on February 2nd, calling for national peace and reconciliation, detailing the structure and actions of his transitional government, addressing the current humanitarian crisis, plan to stabilize the economy, and announcing a firm date for fresh elections later this year. The appearance of a democratic path for a peaceful transition per the Venezuelan Constitution has allowed increased international pressure which, in my view, will become overwhelming for the Maduro Regime.
President Maduro must have received the message that violent suppression of opposition dissidents at his direction, or otherwise on his watch, would bring dire consequences to himself and his “Chavista” cronies. In fact, the International Criminal Court (ICC), has a pending request by six neighboring Countries to initiate an investigation on crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the territory of Venezuela since February 12, 2014. The rank and file of Venezuela’s Armed Forces have no stomach for committing atrocities domestically, nor defending “La Patria” from regional military forces (supported by the United States) whose abilities dwarf their own experience, competency and power. Colombia comes to mind, Venezuela’s neighbor to the West and “cultural sister”, as a Peace-Keeper of good will.
Nicolas Maduro – uncharismatic, weak, inept – was always a strawman for the corrupt political beneficiaries enabled and entrenched by Hugo Chavez. The legacy and cohesion sustained under Chavez died with him in March 2013, and the fuse lit for the regime’s eventual demise.
Regardless of imminent events, change will come, and soon Venezuelans will be faced with a “complete rebuild” of their economy and social structures as they navigate the “undoing” of twenty years of administrative mismanagement, squandering of natural resources, embezzlement, fascism, thuggery and corruption. Having lived in Venezuela “before-during-after” Hugo Chavez’s ascension to power, my experience suggests there will be a powerful and admirable effort on the part of those who remained behind (a majority with no other choice) and those who fled & return quickly, to work for peace and reconciliation. National unity is another matter, a longer-term goal that is required before many others who departed – Venezuelan Nationals, business partners, etc – will feel secure enough to return.