Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Implications of Not Recognizing Maduro

Boz notes the implications of governments refusing to recognize Nicolás Maduro as President of Venezuela after January 10, when he is being inaugurated for the fraudulent May 2018 election. He compares the situation to Honduras in 2009, when Roberto Micheletti proclaimed himself president but was never accepted as such.

It remains to be seen whether the hemisphere and allies in Europe can coordinate to treat Maduro as the same as Micheletti. If that strategy succeeds, Venezuela won’t have anyone as its leader unless the National Assembly names a new interim president. Maduro would lose access to Venezuela’s economic and diplomatic capabilities in many key locations abroad. The actions would further isolate Maduro and make it hard to run the country and the economy. More powerfully, after 10 January, many countries would not recognize Maduro’s arrest or removal from power as a coup because he is not recognized as the president.

His points are well taken, but there are two major differences in that Honduras is deeply dependent on the United States, whereas currently Venezuela relies largely on Russia and China, both of which will continue to recognize Maduro (he is actually going to see Vladimir Putin right now!). The second is that the coup government in Honduras had an expiration date. The coup was in June and there was a presidential election in November, so there was a strong sense that there would soon be an acceptable leader everyone could recognize (at which point, of course, everyone stopped even pretending to care about the violence and corruption at all). That is absent in Venezuela.

In general, I tend to think the economic pressure will be the greatest problem for Maduro. As Boz points out, there is already the threat of not getting Venezuela's gold out of England, and after January 10 it could just be even harder to get Venezuela's resources that happen to be abroad. How much will Russia and China be willing to fill that gap? Trade will continue, as not even the U.S. has taken the plunge into an oil embargo. If Maduro keeps the military loyal and has access to funds through PDVSA, he can last a while. But each one of these measures makes his situation more precarious and reliant on Russia and China.


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