Briefly: Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaidó landed unexpectedly in the US on Tuesday after an action-packed 48 hours. It’s now unclear if or when he’ll ever return to Venezuela.
Here’s what happened:
- On Monday, Guaidó crossed unlawfully into Colombia on foot, after what he said was a 60 hour journey from Venezuela’s capital.
- He then tried to take a flight from a border town to Colombia’s capital, for a summit on Venezuela’s future (to which he wasn’t invited).
- But when Colombia hinted at his possible deportation, the US got him a ticket to Miami instead and local authorities escorted him to the gate.
Just four years ago,Guaidó was greeted as a hero in the very same border town. Three Latin American presidents received him there, and he even featured at a Live Aid concert organised by Richard Branson.
But despite being recognised as Venezuela’s leader by 50 countries at the time, Guaidó struggled to actually oust incumbent Nicolás Maduro from power. And so Guaidó’s influence waned, and his parallel government was disbanded.
Intrigue’s take: Two quick lessons here. First, while Maduro’s 2018 re-election was widely seen as a sham, he still managed to hold tight to key levers of power like the security forces. And in Venezuela, that’s still ultimately what matters.
But second, many of Guaidó’s top backers abroad were subsequently swept from power in Latin America’s ‘pink tide’. So his influence was fading at home and abroad. After this week, it’s hard to see him regaining that influence anywhere.
Also worth noting:
- The US, EU and Latin American countries are trying to negotiate a democratic resolution to Venezuela’s crisis, potentially involving the relaxation of sanctions in return for credible 2024 elections.
- In 2019, the US imposed strict financial sanctions on Venezuela and pledged $52 million in support for Juan Guaidó’s efforts to oust Nicolás Maduro.