This is a time when the Venezuelan regime looks unstoppable, especially given the weakness of the Venezuelan opposition and the unpredictability surrounding the last days of the Trump Administration in the United States. But the regime cannot stop being what it is and inaugurates the year 2021 with the death of political prisoner Salvador Franco, of the Pemón indigenous ethnic group, due to lack of attention in the El Rodeo II prison. The regime can never feel safe since it does not know which political or social tremor could turn into an earthquake that destroys its power bases. Meanwhile in the United States the fight for control of the Republican Party has already started, the Venezuelan opposition parties of the G4 are minimized and the regime tries to create favorable economic conditions.
The race for Trump’s replacement in the Republican Party
What happens within and what the United States does is important for the globe, but for Venezuela it is decisive. The Trump Administration chose a strategy of maximum pressure in the face of the Venezuelan situation, applying sanctions and supporting Guaidó and the NA. The effort fell short since the regime did not fall as the United States was not willing to apply all the options with which it had publicly and repeatedly threatened.
The possibilities of advancing the Biden Administration’s strategy by taking advantage of the existing sanctions and a potential joint work with natural international allies, is made impossible by the internal political situation of the United States. Instead of the outgoing and incoming administrations collaborating together, what has begun is the race to take over from Trump in the Republican Party. For the first time in Trump’s term, and despite the Republican majority, the US Senate challenged Trump and overruled the presidential veto on the defense bill. Likewise, Republican senators are divided, in a futile effort the attempt by 12 Republican senators to refuse to certify Joe Biden’s victory. This internal struggle in the Republican Party lead them to the unthinkable: losing the two senators to Georgia and as a consequence losing control of the Senate in 2021. After 1/20/20 Trump will no longer have ownership of the Presidency’s twitter, but he will have more than US $ 200 million to try to maintain control of the Republican party. From the opposition’s perspective support for them in Venezuela, January 2021 is lost, the space is open for the regime to act as the first steps of the Biden Administration are delayed and greatly hindered.
To add to the complexity, information such as the following comes out: the United States reduces its contribution to Venezuela by 84% for not seeing the transition close and the German position on Venezuela: Maduro is illegitimate but a negotiated solution must be sought.
The opposition parties of the G4 playing down
Guaidó and the NA sought to strengthen their position with the 12D consultation that would allow them to make decisions in the NA and motivate the street to reject the other NA as a result of the questioned 6D elections. Within the opposition, Mayor Ledezma has already stated: I regret that the Popular Consultation has created expectations that end up deflating. Furthermore, the NA changed its mantra, supposedly to open the doors for a negotiation with the regime and apparently in a questionable way in the session in which the NA approved its “constitutional continuity”. In addition, in an outlet as important as the Washington Post, the opposition’s efforts to seize assets abroad attract scrutiny. This brings to light once again the lack of transparency in Guaidó’s and the NA’s actions that different sources have expressed over time and that have never had an explanation. It is also concerning that the support of the two most important Spanish-speaking countries in America has been lost: Mexico and Argentina and that the European Union does not recognize Guaidó as President anymore.
However, the most worrying thing is the this NA and its deputies’ ability to act in the future. Efecto Cocuyo publishes “Caution, fear or determination? Members of the outgoing NA suppress their identification as comgressmen and women in social networks”. It’s a drastic analysis: “How many of the unknown congressmen and women of 2015 are still in the country, willing to take the risk of being “in person” leaders and directly, achieving popular empathy with their courage? Let’s hope. Otherwise, what was announced will happen. A new leadership and not one of the “yellow-cap” congressmen and women will regain political control of the country. ” Will the Venezuelan opposition have to reinvent itself? When and how?
The regime tries to create economic conditions
The duty-free import in force for two years expired on 12/31/20 and was extended for only 4 months. This suggests that the regime needs customs and VAT revenues and there is a possibility that these will appear as of May 2021. This decision will affect the “import everything” economy and will allow the national industry to grow, even if it is within a much smaller economy. Also, Maduro announced that he will authorize foreign exchange accounts in Venezuelan banks and that is another economic loophole that can be opened. Of course, the Anti-Blockade Law will not bring serious investments to the country, and those who do, know that they are at risk of changes in the law at any moment. As a reference, the recently appointed Vice-President of the NA of 6D has already proposed that the properties of Venezuelans living abroad should be taken away, when the OAS warned that the Venezuelan exodus could reach 7 million people in 2021.
Beyond these measures, the same serious problems continue to exist as Bloomberg points out “PDVSA exports fell into a deep crater during December” and the use of fear as a tool to govern remains unchanged when Maduro threatens to apply the weight of the law against Guaidó and the Parliament.