Venezuela Crisis
Supreme Court Hands Maduro Another Victory

Venezuela’s National Electoral Council dealt another blow to the opposition’s efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro. WSJ reports:

Electoral officials suspended a recall referendum campaign that opposition parties were mounting against President Nicolás Maduro, making it increasingly unlikely the president’s foes will be able to remove the embattled leader from power.

The National Electoral Council, staffed with close allies of Mr. Maduro, said in a statement Thursday night it was truncating an opposition signature drive after four provincial courts called it fraudulent and issued rulings putting a halt to the effort. Four ruling party governors, alleging fraud but presenting no public evidence, had requested injunctions from the courts earlier Thursday. […]

The opposition contends the electoral council has blocked every effort to stage a referendum, which is permitted in the constitution. The government’s adversaries say the council delayed the process, coming up with complex steps that weren’t in electoral regulations and had not been required before. The Supreme Court, staffed by magistrates close to the government, upheld the council’s rulings.

In the face of a series of large street protests across the country this year, Venezuela’s gaffe-prone President has kept a firm grip on the levers of power. This is just the latest of several decision by the National Electoral Council intended to save the increasingly unpopular Maduro from facing voters in a referendum recall vote: a prior ruling forced the opposition into another round of petition drives to gather signatures, and this decision will stop that process altogether. Maduro’s term officially ends in 2019.

With oil prices unlikely to rebound any time soon, Venezuela’s energy export-dependent economy has little hope of pulling out of its nose-dive. This presents a real quandary for the United States: managing this catastrophe will entail some level of dealing with the Maduro regime. And engagement is going to be absolutely necessary. A Venezuela left to descend into anarchy and ruin, apart from aggravating the already abhorrent humanitarian crisis, would for one also likely trigger a refugee crisis that the U.S. would have to directly deal with. Pragmatic and levelheaded policy from our next President is what we are going to need, and getting to a good place isn’t going to be easy.

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