A Golden Bridge for the Maduro Government

This post is also available in: Español 

photo of Nicolas Maduro during a meeting with Turkish Minister of Commerce Carlos Becerra / Getty Images

As Venezuela’s presidential elections, scheduled for 2024, draw closer, the international community’s attention is primarily focused on how to use leverage to ensure minimal electoral conditions. US high-level officials have publicly said they would ease some of the economic and political sanctions imposed on the country in exchange for meaningful concessions by Nicolas Maduro’s government, and there is clearly an ongoing back channel between US and Venezuelan authorities along these lines. While this discussion is essential, it often overshadows a vital aspect of the conversation—the plan for what comes next. No transition of power is possible without a clear path forward after election day.

The sense of normalization in the country—motivated by factors including a virtually dollarized economy, increasing international recognition of Maduro’s government and the diminishing visibility of human rights abuses and the dire domestic humanitarian situation in global media—has made engagement with those in power the only game in town. It’s important to note, though, that it is far from normal for a country to be grappling with 400 percent inflation, targeted repression, a pressing need for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, and one of the largest exodus crises in the world.

Nonetheless, engagement is not necessarily wrong. It is critical to talk to all parties. The question is how to ensure this conversation paves the way to transition from the current authoritarian government to something closer to a democratic opening and the eventual reinstitutionalization of this devastated nation. It should not be a tactic to buy time and perpetuate those in power. [...]


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