Viewpoints on Energy, Geopolitics, and Civilization
Patricia Laya/ Bloomberg: The Standoff
in Venezuela, Explained
Two Men Say They Are President of Venezuela
Once one of Latin America's richest countries, Venezuela has been laid low. Its economy has collapsed, plagued with shortages of everything from toilet paper to antibiotics to food. And it's not entirely clear who's in charge any more. Complaining of mismanagement, corruption and political oppression, opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have declared his government invalid and coalesced behind a replacement. Power outages and water shortages that spread throughout the country starting in March have fueled protests against Maduro, but an effort by his opponents to seize control at the end of April fizzled. The two sides remain locked in a standoff over who is the legitimate authority in Venezuela.
1. Who's in charge in Venezuela?
While Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido both claim to be president, Maduro still has control of key assets including the military, media, police and state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA. Guaido, the president of the opposition-dominated National Assembly, announced Jan. 23 that he had assumed Maduro's powers atop a caretaker government until new elections could be held. His move has been recognized by the U.S., Brazil, and dozens of other countries. Blaming Washington for orchestrating the effort to remove him, Maduro broke diplomatic relations with the U.S. after Guaido's move. In April, his regime stripped Guaido of the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by members of the assembly, opening the door to his arrest.
2. What could tip the balance?
Maduro is the protege and successor of Hugo Chavez, the leftist army colonel who was first elected president in 1998 after having been imprisoned for leading a failed coup in 1992. Top leaders of the military have benefited under the regime from government contracts and mining concessions, as well as their control of ports and PDVSA. Guaido has sought to lure officers to his side by offering amnesty to those who defect; if he gains support from rank-and-file army members it would be a major blow to Maduro. But Guaido's failed bid to push out Maduro at the end of April underscored how scant his military support remains.
3. What else could make the difference?
Control over Venezuela's oil reserves, the largest in the world, could prove critical. Oil accounts for the overwhelming majority of Venezuela's income . The U.S. has slapped sanctions on PDVSA that effectively block the OPEC member from exporting crude to the U.S., its biggest customer. American companies are barred from selling Venezuela the light oil it needs to dilute its heavy crude, further hindering PDVSA's ability to export.
4. On what grounds does Guaido claim the presidency?
With the backing of the U.S. and other countries, Guaido has argued that Maduro's May 2018 reelection was illegitimate. With that as the foundation, he cites Article 233 of Venezuela's constitution , which invests temporary presidential power in the head of the National Assembly when the presidency is otherwise vacant. In a column for the Washington Post, Guaido also cited Article 350, which says Venezuelans “shall disown any regime, legislation or authority that violates democratic values, principles and guarantees or encroaches upon human rights.”
5. Why is Maduro's 2018 reelection in question?
Maduro's election to a second six-year term was marred by the jailing and disqualification of opposition politicians -- most of whom ultimately joined a boycott of the vote -- along with the coercing of government workers to vote and reports of fraud. The result was dismissed as illegitimate by the U.S., the European Union and the 14-nation Lima Group, formed to help restore democracy to Venezuela.
6. Is it premature to recognize a new Venezuela government?
In a way, yes. Typically, governments recognize leaders that have effective control of their countries. There are exceptions. In 1989, the U.S. withheld recognition of Manuel Noriega as Panama's leader after he canceled elections in which polls had him trailing badly. (Three months later, the U.S. invaded and Noriega was deposed.) In 2011, the U.S. recognized Libyan rebels as their nation's governing authority even while Muammar Qaddafi was still fighting to hold onto power.
7. What nations still back Maduro as president?
Russia and Bolivia continue to recognize Maduro as Venezuela's rightful leader, as does China, which has said it “opposes foreign forces from interfering into Venezuela affairs.” Early on, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who survived an attempted coup in 2016, called Maduro to say, “Stand tall, we are with you.”
The Reference Shelf
- A QuickTake explainer on Venezuela's collapse.
- Why China should recognize Venezuela's real leaders: Guaido's column in Bloomberg opinion.
- Who is Juan Guaido?
- A timeline of Venezuela's economic rise and fall .
- The Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank have recognized Guaido's picks to the institutions.
We invite you to join us as a sponsor. Circulated Videos, Articles, Opinions and Reports which carry your name and brand are used to target Entrepreneurs through our site, promoting your organization’s services. The opportunity is to insert in our stories pages short attention-grabbing videos, or to publish your own feature stories.
Patricia Laya is Bloomberg Bureau Chief in Caracas.Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published by Bloomberg, on Jan. 24, 2019. Updated on May, 03 2019. All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld.
Use Notice: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of issues of environmental and humanitarian significance.
We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.
All works published by Petroleumworld are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.Petroleumworld has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Petroleumworld endorsed or sponsored by the originator.
Petroleumworld encourages persons to reproduce, reprint, or broadcast Petroleumworld articles provided that any such reproduction identify the original source, http://www.petroleumworld.com or else and it is done within the fair use as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated. Petroleumworld Copyright© 1999-2018 Petroleumworld or respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.
We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ stories by anyone provided it mentions Petroleumworld.com as the source. Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors. Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated.
Petroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments, share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!
Petroleumworld News 05/ 06/2019
We invite all our readers to share with us
their views and comments about this article.
Send this story to a friend Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
By using this link, you agree to allow PW
to publish your comments on our letters page.
Any question or suggestions,
please write to: email@example.com
Best Viewed with IE 5.01+ Windows NT 4.0, '95,
'98,ME,XP, Vista, Windows 7,8 +/ 800x600 pixels