Venezuela 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.”…
Several 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.