In anticipation of the January 10 inauguration of Nicolás Maduro to a second term as president of Venezuela on the basis of last year’s flawed elections, the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) Venezuela program has been providing analysis and orientation to international actors seeking to address the crisis.
In a piece published recently in The Conversation, David Smilde, Senior Fellow at WOLA reviews data showing that a majority of Venezuelans prefer a negotiated solution and would oppose a foreign military intervention even if it successfully removed Maduro.
On January 6, Smilde and Abraham Lowenthal, founding director of the Inter-American Dialogue, penned an op-ed in The Hill arguing that a strategic mix of internal and external pressure and openness to compromise is needed to make progress in Venezuela.
In their op-ed, Smilde and Lowenthal argue that foreign military intervention or support for a military coup in Venezuela would be disastrous. Instead, they outline how the Venezuelan opposition can become more unified, thereby gaining the ability to more effectively pressure the Maduro government. A more coordinated opposition would have the capacity to sustain domestic pressure and, with international support, could eventually create conditions for fruitful negotiations with the Maduro government.
Earlier this month, Smilde and Geoff Ramsey, WOLA’s Assistant Director for Venezuela, published a policy memo laying out concrete actions the United States could take to help create the conditions needed for credible negotiations between Venezuela’s opposition and the Maduro government.
These publications come just before Maduro begins a second term as president, based on a May 2018 election considered illegitimate by a majority of Venezuelans and by most North American, South American, and European governments.