Venezuelan crisis reaches boiling point

Juan Guaidó © Getty images
Guaidó makes his move

An attempt to topple the regime led by Nicolás Maduro seems to have stalled, say John Paul Rathbone and Gideon Long in the Financial Times. The move began with a call to arms by Venezuela’s key opposition figures, Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López, made from outside a military base near the capital. This raised hopes that the military and security forces would support Guaidó, who is backed by more than 50 countries. Shortly afterwards, López had to take refuge in the Spanish embassy; security forces blocked Guaidó from marching on the presidential palace.

But it’s too early to write off Guaidó, says Nicholas Casey in The New York Times. Maduro is still in office for now, but “many rank-and-file soldiers appear willing to defy their commanders and come to the aid of the opposition”. Despite pledging their loyalty to Maduro, it was “telling” that the armed forces did not arrest Guaidó, presumably fearing “a backlash for detaining the popular leaders”. The most likely scenario now is “a revived but protracted struggle between Maduro and Guaidó, with an unclear outcome”.

There is “deep uncertainty” about what will happen next, but “the political and moral essence of this volatile situation” is clear, says The Washington Post. The regime has “violated human rights on a massive scale” and “led Venezuela into economic catastrophe”. Maduro “forfeited democratic legitimacy” when he stripped the national assembly of its power in 2016 and then “engineered his re-election through a flawed process”. The uprising is an effort by Venezuelans “to throw off an oppressive, toxic regime so that they can freely elect a legitimate government”.