As expected, today has turned out to be an eventful day in Venezuela and it is not over yet. The revitalized opposition to Nicolas Maduro took to the streets of Caracas, and other major cities in the nation today demanding Maduro step down and cede power to National Assembly president Juan Guaidó, who is now being recognized by many nation-states as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The United States has loudly proclaimed its recognition of Guaidó, and support for the opposition. A number of nations across the globe are following the US lead and openly recognizing Guaidó.
The Maduro government responded to the US move by officially breaking off diplomatic relations with Washington. US diplomats in Venezuela have 72 hours to leave the country. It’s very likely that the US will respond to this move with additional economic sanctions in the short term. Beyond that, a number of options remain on the table depending on the course events take in the coming days.
Today’s protests in Venezuela drew tens of thousands of citizens at least. Accurate numbers are not yet available. National Guard soldiers responded with tear gas and there are reports of many clashes between soldiers and protesters, yet no reports of any deaths today. Last night, however, four protesters were killed in demonstrations. Tonight will likely bring on more protests, and tomorrow the opposition has called for large scale protests around the country.
The military remains the wild card. Maduro is urging the Venezuelan armed forces to remain united and disciplined. So long as the military remains tethered to the government, Maduro remains in power. If the moment comes when high-ranking officers, or military units start to break away from the regime, Maduro’s government could unravel swiftly.
I will provide additional updates periodically, as events continue to unfold in Venezuela.