Venezuela CRISIS: Foreign invasion, military coup or status quo – what’s next for Maduro?

Saturday, February 2, 2019
By Paul Martin

VENEZUELA is facing a deeply uncertain future with the possibility of a US-led intervention, the prospect of opposition leader Juan Guaido taking power and questions over whether the military will remain loyal. But what comes next for President Nicolas Maduro and how likely is it to happen?

Sat, Feb 2, 2019

The once stable South American country is stuck in a downward spiral of crippling inflation, widespread shortages and political discontent, with many Venezuelans placing blame for the crisis squarely at Maduro’s feet. And with the US last month formally recognising opposition leader as Guaido and Russia and China supporting Maduro, Venezuela is fast becoming a proxy battleground for the world’s major powers. But with the power struggle ongoing and Maduro’s position uncertain, looks at what could happen next in Venezuela.

1. Foreign troops invade and oust Maduro
The crisis in Venezuela has impacted neighbouring Brazil and Columbia after more than three million Venezuelans fled the country in recent years.

And as recently as this month, Brazil has been forced to deny reports that it is preparing to intervene in Venezuela.

Donald Trump has previously floated the possibility of using a “military option” in Venezuela and just this week the president’s national security adviser John Bolton declared “all options are on the table”.

But while the US is actively pushing for the removal of Maduro, Washington has insisted that it hopes to achieve its goal through peaceful means.

This combined with Mr Trump’s reluctance to commit US troops to foreign wars, makes the prospect of a US-led invasion unlikely.

However Washington could choose to support countries like Brazil and Columbia if they took action to Maduro themselves.

2. Venezuela’s military seizes power
While Maduro’s position appears unstable, he is likely to remain in power as long as Venezuela’s powerful armed forces continue to back him.

The incumbent leader has previously accused the US of leading a “coup” against him by backing Guaido.

But as the crisis worsens, there is a possibility of Venezuela’s military taking action to remove Maduro from office.

However military leaders have pledged their support to the president making this scenario unlikely.

Some in the military are guilty of perpetrating serious human rights violations and fear a change in leadership would see them held to account, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, opposition activists have attempted to persuade some troops to abandon Maduro by offering them “amnesty” if they renounced the president and backed Guaido.

3. Opposition takes control
Opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself as Venezuela’s interim president on January 23 – just two weeks after Maduro had been sworn in for a second term.

Since then, thousands of activists have taken to the streets to demand a new president despite the heavy-handed tactics of security forces.

Combined with pressure from the US, the strength of opposition against Maduro could eventually force him out.

A change in leadership could slow Venezuela’s collapse, though whoever takes the helm would be forced to make difficult choices over how to salvage its crisis-hit economy.

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