Latin Lefty Meltdown
Venezuelan Opposition Announces Plan to Oust Maduro

Venezuela’s opposition announced a three-part plan yesterday to take down President Maduro, setting up a series of major clashes to come in the Latin American nation. ABC News reports:

The opposition will simultaneously pursue a constitutional amendment, a recall referendum and a campaign to push for the resignation of the embattled socialist president, said opposition leader Americo De Grazia.

The coalition of more than a dozen mostly centrist political parties reached the agreement on strategy after a long day of meetings Wednesday.[..]

Maduro’s six-year-term ends in 2019. The opposition won a landslide victory in legislative elections in December, and promised to find a way to remove Maduro from power within the first half of 2016.[..]

One plan is to seek a constitutional amendment cutting presidential terms from six to four years, effectively ending Maduro’s term

But many fear that would be overturned by the Supreme Court, which has never ruled against the executive branch since Maduro’s mentor, Hugo Chavez, won the presidency in 1999.

Likewise, a referendum would be difficult to pull off; Maduro has his fingers on too many of the levers the opposition would need to pull to implement one. And he’s surely not going to resign in shame.

The first two strategies seem likely to guarantee legal conflict; the third seems almost designed to lead to public confrontation. Confrontation may be the only way to bring down Maduro—and if confrontation is what the opposition wants, there’s a good chance they will get it. The commodities crash is hitting Venezuela hard, Maduro is an economic illiterate to begin with, and people are really frustrated. But will the Bolivarian strongman, with the backing of an ideologically committed and corrupt military, give up power without a bloody fight?

The U.S. government had better start dusting off and updating its Venezuela strategies. Serious thinkers need to consider that Latin America, where Brazil is also in meltdown and many nations are suffering tourism losses due to Zika and Chikungunya, could become a problem spot again soon. Under these circumstances, handwringing statements from the great and the good (deep insight from the New York Times editorial board: “Mr. Maduro should realize that his options will only get worse if he doesn’t start working with the Parliament”) are not going to cut it.

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