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LatinNews Regional Monitor: Andean Group - 4 March 2019

VENEZUELA: Guaidó risks return

Juan Guaidó announced on 3 March that he will return to Venezuela today (4 March) after completing a mini tour of the region.

Analysis:

It is not clear how Guaidó intends to re-enter Venezuela. He ignored a resolution by the supreme court (TSJ) barring him from leaving the country when he coordinated efforts to force the entry of foreign humanitarian aid into the country from the Colombian border city of Cúcuta on 22 February. Since then, Guaidó has visited Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, before wrapping up his mini tour of the region in Ecuador.

  • “If the regime dares to kidnap me it will, without doubt, be one of the last mistakes that it makes”, Guaidó said, adding that it would amount to a “coup d’état”. The de facto government led by Nicolás Maduro has not revealed what it would do. Guaidó could be prevented from re-entering the country in a bid to slow the momentum of his transition movement. If he were allowed back in, and arrested, it could set off a powder keg at home.
  • Guaidó’s arrest would also have serious repercussions abroad. The Maduro government’s instincts for survival might make it loath to provoke the US government in this way at this juncture. While Guaido's arrest might not be enough to persuade the Lima Group of Western Hemisphere nations to countenance military intervention in Venezuela, it would most likely lead them to tighten the diplomatic noose and impose tougher sanctions.
  • This was exactly what Guaidó was pushing for during his mini tour of the region. He is conscious of the need to preserve a broad coalition of international support to avoid the charge levelled at him by the Maduro government of being a US puppet. His visit to Ecuador, for many years a close ally of Venezuela’s Bolivarian government, was particularly eye-catching. Ecuador's President Lenín Moreno expressed his support for Guaidó, saying that “we are both on the way out of the abyss in which we were placed: this poorly named 21st century socialism”.

Looking Ahead: Guaidó called for a dozen protests around the country today, in the midst of Carnival, to increase the pressure on Maduro.