Editorial: An Exit for Venezuela

The Venezuelan government must avoid a fratricidal war

El gobierno de Maduro arrecia la represión contra los opositores.

El gobierno de Maduro arrecia la represión contra los opositores. Crédito: Getty Images

The political situation in Venezuela has gotten out of president Nicolás Maduro’s hands. His responsibility is now to avoid a civil war. To do that, he must advance the presidential election one year and allow the opposition to enter the political arena without retaliation.

This might seem like a mission impossible in view of the political polarization that has divided Venezuelans for many years. But casting it aside because of its difficulty leaves no exit but confrontation, violence and death.

The spark causing today’s fire was the April 1st decision by the Supreme Court of Justice to take the reins of the legislative Assembly in the wake of a dispute over whether the opposition had won two thirds of the seats, or was three seats short.

The declaration that the National Assembly (AN) was “in contempt” meant replacing the power widely won by the opposition in the polls with a bunch of judges hurriedly designated by the exiting AN to neutralize the new legislative leadership.

The electoral frustration had been building ever since the ruling party canceled last December’s governors elections, arguing that they were not a priority due to economic pressures.

Maduro’s first mistake was to try to govern like former President Hugo Chávez, when he was elected with a margin of slightly more than 1%, or 234,000 votes out of 15 million.

Maduro did not have neither the mandate at the polls nor the skills, charisma or the luck of high oil prices, as his predecessor did.

It is true that the business’ boycott and the shortages have had an influence in the crisis, but are not the main culprit. There are many international interests seeking the fall of Maduro, but they are not responsible for the anger of vast swaths of the population.

The government has the responsibility to deactivate through negotiation the protests that have caused more than 25 deaths and hundreds of detainees. The use of Chavista “colectivos” – armed civilians who shoot indiscriminately – is a barbaric act that destroys the government’s democratic credibility.

To move the date of the election one year earlier due to an untenable situation is a reasonable exit to avoid a fratricidal confrontation. Fear of retaliation by the opposition after almost 20 years of “Chavismo” is as real as the possibility of losing an election. This is democracy.

En esta nota

Crisis en Venezuela Editorial Nicolás Maduro Venezuela
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