Venezuela crisis: How EU's support to Guaido will affect the processes? - Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch explains | Eurasia Diary -

22 July, Monday

Venezuela crisis: How EU's support to Guaido will affect the processes? - Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch explains

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Venezuela witnesses one of the most critical moments of its history. The situation in the country reached the level of social crisis. 1million % inflation, 2 million or 10% of the population have fled the country, most to Columbia, 80 % now live in poverty, acute food shortage (imports used to replace domestic production, after the collapse of the currency imports dried up), malnutrition is now widespread, medicines are a scarcity.

Eurasia Diary asked from the professor of the University Salzburg Ph.D. Reinhard Heinisch for the evaluation of the ongoing processes.

"According to the Venezuelan constitution, the president of the parliament/congress resumes the duties of the country as acting president if the country has no constitutionally elected president until new elections are held, this person is Guaido (he was duly elected in a nationally elected parliament). Since Maduro was not constitutionally elected, he is not the legitimate president and thus Guaido is constitutionally speaking – that is the position of the countries that have recognized him," Heinisch explains the situation in terms of the constitution.

Member states of the EU had given Venezuela an ultimatum to accept free and fair presidential elections. This ultimatum expired today (Feb.4.) and as a result  Pres. Guaido is recognized as the legitimate president in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution. These states follow the position of the United States although this does not mean that these countries or governments are especially close to Washington.

Spain, France, Britain and Germany followed through on their promise, and by noon Monday a total of 13 European nations had joined in solidarity with Guaido, recognizing him as president. 

"This decision of EU countries by themselves will not make much of a difference but may increase the pressure." Heinisch thinks.

"Two factors are of crucial importance that will decide the outcome:

Military: how many of the generals (and there are a lot of them) remain loyal and how many will switch sides – if enough do, Maduro will fall if not enough do that there is the danger of a civil war. The military is also necessary to potentially deal with armed militias that prop up the government and who have been involved in assassinations, kidnapping, and mass violence against the opposition. Also, the loyalty of the police cannot be assured thus the army and which side they are on is crucial. Maduro has been “bribing” his generals by giving them stakes in the oil business.

The oil business: the all important source of revenue. Yet since the US embargo, Maduro has an enormous problem because the US is the biggest market for PDVSA (the Venezuelan state oil company). The other problem is that Venezuelan crude oil it too thick to be readily refinable. Thus it needs an obscure product called heavy naphtha to pump the oil from ships into refineries and refine the crude to gasoline, diesel etc. The US is the main supplier of this product and currently, the Maduro government is looking everywhere to get it but companies do not want to cross the US and don’t think that Venezuela is particularly credit-worthy. In short, if the oil squeeze continues it could wipe out the last source of revenue for the government and thus also Maduro’s ability to pay off the military. In this case, they may begin to shift support to ensure their survival in post-Maduro Venezuela."

"We may assume that the reaction by the most important European countries, especially also Spain (there are many Venezuelans that have also Spanish citizenship) will give the military further incentives to change sides. But Maduro has an excellent Cuban-trained network of informers and agents working for the secret police that have infiltrated military units and all institutions. This has allowed Maduro who used to be seen as a transitional figure after Chavez’ death to hold on to power for 5 years despite the severe crisis – so we should not count him out yet," Heinisch said.

Ulvi Ahmedli

Eurasia Diary

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