At Latin America Goes Global, Javier Corrales and Franz von Bergen make the case that what we're seeing in Venezuela is a new kind of coup:
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro shocked his country this week when he announced that he was giving exceptional powers to his Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López. Maduro made Padrino Lopez a sort of food czar, giving him all responsibilities for overseeing food distribution in a country with critical levels of food shortages. More important, Maduro declared that all his ministers will now need to report to the general.
A civilian president making a military man the head of his own government is a remarkable event. Almost every analyst in Venezuela has interpreted Maduro’s decision as the clearest sign that a dangerously weak government, rapidly losing control of the situation, has taken desperate measures to survive.
But there’s another possible interpretation: that this was a semi-coup by the military against a rudderless, ineffective and discredited Maduro government.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I resist applying concepts like "coup" to everything we see. This one could be more accurate, though we'd have to think of something better than "semi-coup." If this was forced on Maduro, then the military has decided to control much more without being condemned for taking over the entire country. Doing so would probably force even very reluctant Latin American governments to take a stand. For now, those governments can continue pretending that somehow this will all work out.
This is all bad. Democracies don't involve reporting to a general.