Venezuela in a ‘peculiar predicament’


vzla dialogueVenezuela is no longer a country split between roughly two antagonistic halves: a pro-government left and an opposition-minded right, notes Francisco Toro, the editor of CaracasChronicles. A broad and diverse opposition movement has coalesced around the need to return Venezuela to democracy. But it finds itself in a peculiar predicament: Although its numbers are strong, it is virtually powerless, he writes for The New York Times:

Voters said to be in favor of removing Mr. Maduro from office far outnumber those against: nearly 68 percent, compared with 23.5 percent, according to a poll taken this summer by Venebarometro, a respected local pollster. Some 92 percent of respondents also said the country’s situation was “somewhat bad,” “bad” or “very bad,” with 57 percent calling it “very bad.”…

vzla leopoldoloplilianjpg.520.360Several opposition leaders — Leopoldo López (right), Manuel Rosales, Yon Goicoechea — are political prisoners. Others are being followed and harassed. The opposition Democratic Unity coalition won a huge majority in parliamentary elections last year, but that made little difference. The Supreme Court, which has become a subsidiary of the ruling party, has simply refused to recognize the National Assembly, declaring its decisions “void.”

“And now the Maduro government, by maneuvering to deny a timely recall vote, is shutting down any institutional avenue out of the crisis — doing precisely what Mr. Chávez said had justified his 1992 rebellion,” Toro adds. “Which is why today, depressingly, Venezuela’s fate once again may rest where it should never be: with the armed forces.”  RTWT

The Maduro government has no intention of holding a fair referendum, but the delay may have provided the international community with a positive option, writes Christopher Sabatini, a former Latin America program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy.

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