1. The political standoff in Venezuela could cause economic disaster
The stand-off between Venezuelan authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro, and the man backed by the West and many in Venezuela Juan Guaido has been going on for several months, and it appears time is running up for the latter. Guaido is continuing to rally support from rural areas, and has announced his will to remove Maduro’s rule, by all means, stating in one of his rallies, “If I have to descend to hell to finish off this dictatorship, I will do it with the blessing of you all.” It is clear from these comments that Guaido will not back down. It is unclear, however, how long Mr Guaidó can keep his fractious opposition coalition together and his supporters enthused, and if the political stalemate continues for longer it could lead to an economic disaster. “Venezuela is in a state of perverse equilibrium,” said Luis Vicente León, director of Datanálisis, a polling and market research firm in Caracas, adding: “We are in a catastrophic deadlock where neither side can defeat the other but their conflict can destroy the country.”
2. Venezuela hit by US sanctions
In the latest move by the US to try to force Maduro to step down, the US has added new sanctions to the already imposed ones, which includes the authorisation of penalties against “foreign persons” who provide support for his government, as well as freezing the assets of President Maduro. The Venezuelan government has clearly been affected by this decision, as Venezuelan vice president called the actions, a “global threat” and an attack on private property, adding that “the US has to understand once and for all that they aren’t the owners of the world.” Although the move by the US could make Maduro reconsider his position, it will dangerously affect the economy and the Venezuelan people.
3. Russia’s opposition to the US
Russia’s support of Maduro in opposition to the US has continued, as Russian foreign ministry called new American sanctions against Venezuela “economic terror” in a statement Tuesday. “Such steps have no legal basis either in terms of international or domestic Venezuelan law,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Obviously, the White House is driven by the ideology of intolerance and dictatorship, which are put above the interests of Venezuelans.” Russia has clearly made its insistence in supporting the Maduro administration, along with China and Iran, and has used it as a tool to limit the US’s influence in South America.
4. Venezuelan Church takes a side
The church of Venezuela, who have a large influence on the nation and the Venezuelan public, have made their stance clear, as they have demanded Maduro to step down and to hold free elections. Although this is not picking a side, or siding with Guaido, they have clearly opposed Maduro. Maduro “must retire” from the presidency “to allow for truly free elections,” added Archbishop Jesús González in a press conference. This could be crucial to mount pressure on the Venezuelan leader, as he finds himself surrounded by the opposition in his nation.
5. Is Guaido losing steam?
While Maduro is struggling to maintain a positive public opinion in Venezuela, the man set to challenge and replace him, is not doing as well as earlier. More than six months after proclaiming himself acting president, and earning the recognition of more than 50 countries, Guaido has not succeeded in ousting Maduro and can no longer attract the massive crowds of supporters that he once mobilized. Guaido has tried to keep hope alive, encouraging Venezuelans weary after years of crisis not to give up. But on July 23, six months after he launched his bold challenge to unseat Maduro, less than 1,000 people turned up to a special event in downtown Caracas. Many believe his movement has “gone cold”, as perceived by political scientist Luis Salamanca told AFP. This only makes the political situation worse, as there is no leader that can attract the masses, and save the country from the incoming economic disaster.