Bogotá, Colombia – When the leader of the Venezuelan opposition landed in Caracas this week after a world tour aimed at garnering support for regime change, his authoritarian ruler did not give him any arrest, which would have motivated supporters, and no chance to nullify the heroes. Welcome to the airport
Instead, President Nicholas Maduro seemed to receive his rival, Juan Guido, with the same slow strangling policy that drained opposition from much of its momentum over the past year and suppressed his movement enough to nullify its members, but without going so far as to motivate the world to act.
Moments before Mr. Gaydo’s arrival, Maduro’s supporters attacked the journalists who were there to cover his arrival, beating and pulling at least one woman from the hair. Once Mr. Gaidu arrived, government supporters chased him from the airport, cutting off any plans he had to throw, and then attacking his car with traffic cones and at least one metal pole.
And while Mr. Gaydo sneaked in, the authorities arrested his uncle, Being accused, without providing evidenceWho brought the explosives to the country.
Hours later, Mr. Guido stood with a few hundred supporters on a square in an opposition stronghold in eastern Caracas and declared victory.
“He challenged the dictatorship and entered the country,” he said. “Venezuela will be democratic and free.”
Mr Guaidó also said he would announce the creation of the “Venezuela Fund”, a multilateral program aimed at helping the country recover from its long and devastating economic crisis.
But he did not present any other plan to remove Mr. Maduro. This, along with his chaotic arrival and the growing frustration between his base due to the icy pace of change, spoke eloquently of the challenges that Mr. Gayido faces at home.
On Tuesday, when Mr Guaido arrived in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, Mr Maduro’s strongest ally, Diosdado Cabello, he mocked the size of the crowd that had come to greet him at the airport and underestimated his movement.
Mr. Guaido issued a direct challenge to Mr. Maduro a year ago, when he pointed out irregularities in Mr Maduro’s re-election and claimed to be the country’s interim president, and garnered the support of millions of Venezuelans and dozens of foreign governments, including United State.
Since then, although the United States has used crippling sanctions to harm the country’s economy and try to force Mr. Maduro to topple him, Mr. Guido has not been able to seize power and call for new presidential elections – his declared goals.
On January 19, he left the country to support more abroad, in defiance of the travel ban imposed by the government of Mr. Maduro. On his tour, he made headlines when he sat down with President Trump and secured a prominent spot in the event of the Union speech. There, Mr. Trump defended the efforts of the opposition leader.
Mr. Guido also met Angela Merkel from Germany and Emmanuel Macron from France, and was greeted by thousands of Venezuelans and Venezuelan Americans in Florida.
National Security Adviser pointed out to Mr. Trump, Robert C. O’Brien, to the possibility of substantive action, including sanctions against the Russian state oil company, Rosneft.
Oil encourages the Venezuelan economy, and Rosneft was the country’s main crude oil supplier.
Internationally, Mr. Guaidó looked strong.
But at home, nothing changed, and Mr. Maduro held strong control over the country, playing what appeared to be a long drain game.
Mr. Guaidó is heading towards a crisis point that poses a serious threat to the opposition, and his claim to being the country’s interim president.
The National Assembly, the legislature, is the last major political body in the country that the opposition claims to control. But 2020 is an election year for the association, and Mr Maduro’s opponents are divided over participation.
If the opposition participates, they risk legitimizing potential fraudulent elections. If they do not, they risk handing over control to Mr. Maduro.
Mr. Guaidó, to date, has not announced a position.
“Regardless of the opposition’s decision, it is possible that Mr. Maduro will take over this year,” Phil Gunson, a Caracas-based analyst, told the International Crisis Group.
But if Mr. Guido does not make a decision – and soon – then he risks misappropriation.
“There couldn’t be any more beating around the bush,” said Mr Gunson. “He must be a leader.”