Venezuela Has A Presidential Recall Election
Members of the Venezuelan conservative opposition have tried to reason with socialist President Nicolas Maduro for several months to cooperate on making Venezuela a more democratic country. The opposition was marginalized by the authoritarian leader even though it won control of the country’s National Assembly, the equivalent of Congress, in December 2015 elections.
Opposition leaders are now trying to oust the president in a constitutional manner by pushing for a presidential recall election. Maduro is resisting the opposition’s pressure, as well as demands by leaders such as President Barack Obama, that the government respect the constitution.
The Ruling Socialist Government Enacts Reforms And Cooperates With The Opposition
In a bid to avoid the total collapse of Venezuela, Maduro might make a deal with the opposition that would let him stay in power and save face with the international community. The socialist leader could propose a united government or announce he will free all political prisoners, including U.S.-educated opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
Maduro would then likely promise to respect the authority of the National Assembly to ensure he remains in office.
Locally-Led Coup d’État
Opposition leaders may soon grow so impatient with Maduro’s intransigence and the lack of action by the international community, that they could approach senior members of the military and national police to help them launch a coup. A coup would not be unusual for Venezuela, given that Hugo Chavez — Maduro’s mentor — tried to become president as an army officer via a failed coup attempt in 1992 before he was elected in 1998.
Maduro could also be ousted via coup by fellow socialist Diosdado Cabello. Cabello is the former speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the equivalent of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Cabello was also a top Chavez deputy and many senior members of the Venezuelan military are loyal to him.
The Status Quo Remains
Venezuelans might just endure their horrible conditions. Maduro continues to have the loyalty of the military and the police, while the opposition is increasingly meaningless as their constitutional power is not respected.
Venezuela’s neighbors have their own problems to worry about, so they cannot or will not intervene. Brazil is too busy managing a sinking economy, a corrupt interim government, the Zika virus, and preparing for the Olympics. Colombia is currently focused on wrapping up years-long peace negotiations with a top rebel group.
Maduro may ultimately be in office until the end of his term in 2019.
Obama does not often favor intervention abroad, but if the U.S. does step in militarily, it wouldn’t be the first time. While many tend to think back to the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba, the U.S. has actually involved itself much more directly and more recently in the region.
Former President George H.W. Bush had U.S. forces invaded Panama in 1989 to take out the country’s de facto leader, General Manuel Noriega. There is a significant security interest that could play a role in determining an invasion, considering Venezuela provides 9 percent of U.S. foreign oil
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