In the publication "Latin American Advisor", May 17, 2016, I was asked:
Venezuelan Vice President Aristóbulo Istúriz said Sunday that an opposition-led petition drive for a referendum to remove President Nicolás Maduro from office would not be allowed to move ahead, accusing organizers of committing fraud in collecting signatures. Meanwhile, last Friday Maduro declared a 60-day state of emergency, ordering military exercises to prepare for what he called “foreign threats.” On Sunday, he told a crowd of supporters that all businesses and factories closed down by their owners would be “given to the workers” so production could be restarted. Given recent developments, how likely is Maduro to complete his term? What scenarios could develop that would trigger a regime change in Venezuela? What other countries have gone through similar crises as Venezuela’s, with rampant inflation and shortages of basic goods, and what do their experiences foretell about what might happen in Venezuela?
Obviously, the regime in power, supported by high ranking officers from the armed forces, has openly decided to execute a coup. There is no other word for what is going on in Venezuela. However, the National Assembly insists on continuing the constitutional process leading to a referendum while increasing popular mobilization to apply pressure to the regime. At the same time, the regime is openly fracturing, as General Clíver Alcalá Cordones (fingered as a narco-general by the U.S. government) has been openly challenging Maduro as a legitimate president during the last few days, possibly as a prelude to an internal counter-coup led by the narco-generals. The situation in Venezuela is rapidly becoming more chaotic. Maduro will not complete his term. The country seems convinced that not only Maduro but the whole regime has to go. A potential game changer, a scenario consisting of massive popular protests and an indefinite general strike, supported by some armed forces groups, is becoming more probable by the week. I have been advocating this scenario as the only realistic way out of the Venezuelan tragedy. Such a scenario could receive great support if the democracies in the region openly denounced the Maduro regime. I can cite two countries in which a similar crisis as Venezuela’s has taken place. One, France under Louis XVI, ended with the king losing his head. The other, Zimbabwe under Mugabe, ended with Mugabe holding on to power supported by the military. Maduro will keep his head but not his job.”