To analyse

Venezuela: the return of Nicolas Maduro on the international scene in the face of a divided opposition

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at the presidential palace of Miraflores, in Caracas, Venezuela, November 2, 2022. AP - Ariana Cubillos

Text by: Christophe Paget Follow

5 mins

For a few months, the situation has been changing, after years of deadlock: the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro are starting to talk to each other, to negotiate.

And internationally, the Venezuelan president is no longer the pariah he was, after his re-election in 2018, seen by many as fraudulent.  


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The main reason for this development is the war in Ukraine, which disrupted Russian oil supplies to Westerners;

among them the United States, at the origin of the sanctions which strike Venezuela, with among other things, an embargo on, precisely, its oil (the country contains one of the largest crude reserves in the world).

And since the start of the war provoked by Moscow, “ 

the United States has been trying to find partners to avoid using Russian oil.

They are trying to undo countries that are dependent on Russia, namely Venezuela

 , ”explains Thomas Posado, doctor of political science and specialist in Venezuela.

They are also trying to weigh down oil prices, and in this, " 

Venezuela, which only produces

700-800,000 barrels compared to 2.3 million a few years ago, seems to be a partner of choice

 " .

This war in Ukraine, explains the specialist, becomes an opportunity to challenge sanctions that were not effective.

They were intended to lead quickly to a change of regime, " 

which absolutely did not take place


As early as the 2020 US presidential campaign, Joe Biden had raised the possibility of reversing these sanctions.  

 To read also: Venezuela: weak improvement in the oil market with the resumption of Chevron's activities

After his election, the new American president did not immediately do so.

But the situation is changing: the United States is beginning to lift some of the sanctions weighing on the country.

In particular, they authorize the Chevron company to resume commercial activities in this country.

And, recalls Christophe Ventura, associate researcher at Iris, " 

they allow Venezuela to recover some of the financial assets that are blocked in several banks around the world - provided that they are managed by the government of Nicolas Maduro in association with the opposition, under the aegis of the United Nations


It is a process that is taking place, analyzes the researcher: “ 

the idea is that the United States expects Maduro to confirm the organization of presidential elections in 2024, which could make it possible to reshuffle the cards of the


game  ”.

For his part, Nicolas Maduro insists: no election without the lifting of sanctions.  

A divided opposition 

For its part, the opposition is trying to organize itself for this presidential election: last week, noting the failure of Juan Guaido, it terminated his functions.

Four years ago, this opponent proclaimed himself interim president, with the support of Washington and part of the international community.

But, explains Christophe Ventura, “ 

this strategy of maximum pressure to obtain the fall of the Venezuelan regime and the end of the presidency of Nicolas Maduro did not work.

The country was at an impasse 


 To read also: Venezuela: the opposition puts an end to the "interim presidency" of Juan Guaido

But if today all the opposition wants to negotiate with the Venezuelan president – ​​the best way according to them to arrive at the end of the presidency of Nicolas Maduro, there are big differences on the method.

This end of the interim presidency of Juan Guaido is not at all consensual in the opposition

 ", explains Thomas Posado: " 

there was a vote, the three parties which are more in favor of negotiating have put an end to this presidency acting

Juan Guaido's party disagreed, and sectors not necessarily organized into major parties - and even more radical than Juan Guaido - consider that this end of the presidency is a gift to the 'dictatorship', to use their term, of Nicola Maduro


And the specialist estimates that the stronger the rancor and tensions are within the opposition, the lower the possibility that an opposition candidate will beat Nicolas Maduro in the presidential elections of 2024.  

Primaries to change the situation 

This opposition is very broad, with sensitivities ranging from the left to a fairly hard right, believes Christophe Ventura.

Nicolas Maduro has long played on these differences.

It is therefore not " 

naturally unified

 ", but the primary it intends to organize this year could change the situation: " 

I think it will be a primary where the different parties will try to build this leadership that they do not have not


Among the possible candidates, Christophe Ventura like Thomas Posado believe that Henrique Capriles, former unsuccessful candidate against Hugo Chavez then Nicolas Maduro, could do well and be a “ 

relatively consensual

 ” candidate.

It embodies more, emphasizes Thomas Posado, " 

a more conciliatory desire: to stop asking for sanctions against Venezuela, and to speak more to the Venezuelans who are inside the country


In fact, in addition to finding a single candidate, the opposition will have to convince the population: because, explains Thomas Posado, " 

if Nicolas Maduro is quite a minority in Venezuelan public opinion, the popularity of opposition leaders is , for each of them, extremely weak, and none arouses a natural adhesion 

": the Venezuelans no longer have any real confidence in their politicians, who have not been able to get the country out of a political and economic crisis that lasts for years.  

 To read also: Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro wants to "defend" the national currency, the bolivar


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