AFP: A "democratic transition" in Venezuela seems possible, analysts say
Nicolás Maduro has just assumed power in Venezuela until 2025. But his new mandate is unknown as fraudulent from the opposition and from fifty countries. And according to analysts, a political change with a constitutional basis now seems possible in the former oil power.
"Today there are promising signs for a democratic transition in Venezuela," said AFP Michael Shifter, director of the analysis center for the Inter-American Dialogue.
"I'm really very optimistic," said Geoff Ramsey, vice president of Venezuela at WOLA, a research center in Latin America based in Washington.
"For the first time in many months (…) Maduro is on the defensive," wrote journalist Andrés Oppenheimer.
"This is probably the last opportunity for Venezuela to resolve its crisis in a legitimate, constitutional and peaceful way," said Moisés Rendón, expert of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Why do the stars of politics and diplomacy seem to have lined up for this to happen, even if the road seems cobbled?
The opposition seems to have finally found a figure able to reunite it: Juan Guaidó, a 35-year-old industrial engineer who from 5 January presides over the National Assembly, the legislative elected in 2015 until 2021.
"It is almost like a rebirth, the opposition has emerged more united than ever, Guaidó is all that Maduro is not: it is charismatic, recognizes the gravity of the crisis and appeals to a broad base".
It is "the new political star of Venezuela", said Oppenheimer of the deputy of the popular Volunteer party of Leopoldo López, under house arrest.
Guaidó himself showed his game on Tuesday in a column of the Washington Post. He called Maduro "usurper" and said he was "fully accountable and willing" to take the interim presidency and "demand free elections", as foreseen in the Constitution when a power vacuum occurs.
"What's happening in Venezuela is not a coup," said Shifter.
"The National Assembly and its current leader, Guaidó, are totally legitimate and have from them the law and the Constitution, but what is less clear, however, is how much power they really have and in the coming weeks it will be put to the test ". .
To restore democracy, Guaidó said he had a clear "road map" in view of organizing new elections.
But Guaidó has not yet been proclaimed interim president, although the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, already calls him.
"It is not enough for Guaido to simply call himself a legitimate president if he does not really have power," Ramsey said.
What do you need to have it? The veteran diplomat Michael Matera, director of the American program CSIS, has indicated three key points.
"The support of the military, the Venezuelan people and the international community will be essential to allow Guaidó to officially assume the position of president and to maintain a position that Maduro now occupies illegitimately," he said.
This week the National Assembly has extended a bridge to the Armed Forces: it has promised to grant the amnesty to all those who support a return to the constitutional order.
"If the inter-American rules are respected, Maduro can not be recognized", he insisted on an Almagro forum, urging Venezuela to hold elections "as soon as possible" and promising the "full support" of the OAS so that are "clear, transparent and democratic, if necessary".
The external pressure on Caracas grew after the questioned re-election of Maduro last May, but was significantly strengthened with the arrival of power in the far right in Brazil: the new president Jair Bolsonaro coincides with his US counterpart Donald Trump in that Maduro He is a "dictator".
Bolsonaro, whom Maduro called a "Hitler in modern times", received Miguel Angel Martin, president of the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice in exile, appointed by the majority of opposition in Parliament on Thursday at the Planalto Palace. A high-ranking Almagro consultant was present.
In parallel, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo met Venezuelan opponents and representatives of the United States and the Lima group, a block of American countries critical of Maduro. After the meeting, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Brazil's willingness to support Guaidó's "interim presidency".
"Although Maduro has some allies, both in Latin America and throughout the world, most of the international community would accept a democratic transition in Venezuela," said Shifter.
However, he urged caution by combining external pressure with internal pressure, and urged to be certain that the military, "those who exercise real power", are seriously engaged in a possible transition.
"This process must be managed skillfully and pay close attention to the obstacles that appear along the way," he said.