Recognising Juan Guaidó risks a bloody civil war in Venezuela | Temir Porras Ponceleon

Photo of Recognising Juan Guaidó risks a bloody civil war in Venezuela | Temir Porras Ponceleon

Maduro’s rule has created a crisis but he still has millions of supporters. The country needs democratic dialogue, not sanctions
• Temir Porras Ponceleon is a former chief of staff to Nicolás Maduro

The latest troubling events in Venezuela are the most recent episode in a political crisis that has been festering since the death of Hugo Chávez six years ago. Following President Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration for a disputed second term in January, the speaker of the opposition-dominated parliament, Juan Guaidó, declared himself “interim president” of the country. Guaidó was immediately recognised by the US, Canada and a group of Latin American conservative governments, who called upon the Venezuelan military to rise up against Maduro. And today the UK, France, Spain, Germany and other European countries recognised Guaidó after Maduro refused their demand to call fresh elections.

Since Guaidó’s declaration, the Trump administration has imposed new sanctions on Maduro’s government, seized billions-worth of Venezuelan oil-related assets on US soil, and started making barely veiled threats of military intervention. Few would disagree that the country is in a disastrous economic and social situation, but before other governments take similar actions that could exacerbate Venezuela’s political polarisationand end up provoking a bloody civil war, we should first understand how it reached this state of crisis.

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