The opposition in Venezuela has finally emerged from the political wilderness. The National Assembly’s challenging the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s government has rejuvenated opposition groups across Venezuela. These groups that are in direct opposition to Maduro are rallying around Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, and the man who has assumed the powers and duties of the Acting President of Venezuela, giving the country two leaders claiming to be the rightful leader. Guaido is receiving recognition, and support from many nations, and international organizations in the Western Hemisphere. The United States is backing him, and the National Assembly-led opposition to Maduro. Brazil and Colombia are two of the Latin American countries that have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s president.
Following violent protests across the nation last night, Venezuelan opponents to Maduro are preparing for a major march today. Even though the opposition is energized, and has the momentum, a Caracas Spring is not guaranteed. We’ve been down this road before with a series of violent, mass protests breaking out around Venezuela for days at a time. In the end nothing changed for the better. Maduro remained in power, and the opposition was fractured. This time around, the hope is that outcome is decidedly different.
The wild card is the Venezuelan military. Its support of Maduro has been steadfast and if it remains so, Maduro will stay in power. If Guaido’s call for the armed forces to disavow Maduroa is answered by even a handful of units, the situation in Venezuela could change immeasurably. At best, the military turns on Maduro completely, while the worst-case scenario would be a bona fide civil war breaking out.
Wednesday could very well end up being a critical day for Venezuela.