2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis

2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis
Part of the crisis in Venezuela
Maduro and Guaidó (Presidential crisis).png
Date10 January 2019 (2019-01-10)ongoing
Location
MethodsProtests, support campaigns
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures

Since 10 January 2019, Venezuela has been experiencing a presidential crisis, with unclear leadership and terms of the Venezuelan presidency. The incumbent President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected as president in the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election; however, the results of that election were disputed, largely because of irregularities in the way the election was called. The dispute came to a head in early 2019 when the National Assembly of Venezuela stated that the results of the election were invalid and declared Juan Guaidó as the acting president, citing several clauses of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution. National protests were then organized by the opposition against Maduro's election and his ruling coalition.

Shortly after the National Assembly's declaration, various Venezuelan groups, foreign nations, and international organizations made statements supporting either side to the conflict, with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Arab League leading the support for Maduro while the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union shared support for the National Assembly.

On 13 January, Guaidó was briefly detained by Venezuelan security forces, with each side claiming the other party was responsible; Maduro's supporters claimed the arrest was staged while Guaidó called the arrest an attempt to stop the National Assembly from assuming power.

Maduro's government states that the actions taken against him are the results of imperialism perpetrated by the United States and allies that put Venezuela "at the centre of a world war".[39] The Venezuelan opposition justifies its actions, stating that both the national and international community must unite behind a transitional government that will guarantee humanitarian aid, bring the restoration of Venezuela's rule of law and have the ability to hold democratic elections.[40]

Background

Since 2010, Venezuela has been suffering a socioeconomic crisis under Nicolás Maduro (and briefly his predecessor Hugo Chávez), as rampant crime, hyperinflation and shortages diminish quality of life.[41][42][43][44][45][46] As a result of discontent with the government, for the first time since 1999, the opposition was elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly following the 2015 parliamentary election.[47] Following the 2015 National Assembly election, the lame duck National Assembly, consisting of Bolivarian officials, filled the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the highest court in Venezuela, with Maduro allies.[47][48] The tribunal quickly stripped three opposition lawmakers of their National Assembly seats in early 2016, citing alleged "irregularities" in their elections, thereby preventing an opposition supermajority which would have been able to challenge President Maduro.[47] The tribunal then approved several actions by Maduro and granted him more powers.[47] As protests mounted against Maduro in 2017, he called for a constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution that would replace the 1999 Venezuela Constitution of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez.[49] Many countries considered the election a bid by Maduro to stay in power indefinitely,[50] and over 40 countries stated that they would not recognize the National Constituent Assembly.[51][52] The Democratic Unity Roundtable—the opposition to the incumbent ruling party—also boycotted the election claiming that the Constituent Assembly was "a trick to keep [the incumbent ruling party] in power."[53] Since the opposition did not participate in the election, the incumbent Great Patriotic Pole, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, won almost all seats in the assembly by default.[54][55][56] On 8 August 2017, the Constituent Assembly declared itself to be the government branch with supreme power in Venezuela, banning the opposition-led National Assembly from performing actions that would interfere with the assembly while continuing to pass measures in "support and solidarity" with President Maduro, effectively stripping the National Assembly of all its powers.[57]

In the May 2018 elections, the incumbent President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected among various irregularities, which led many to believe that the elections were invalid.[58][59] Paired with views of Maduro's leadership being an ineffective dictatorship,[60][61][62] many politicians both internally and internationally did not believe Maduro was legitimately elected.[63] In the months leading up to his inauguration on 10 January 2019, Maduro was encouraged to not continue as president by nations and bodies including the Lima Group (excluding Mexico), the United States, and the OAS, with this pressure being increased as the new National Assembly of Venezuela was sworn in on 5 January 2019.[64][65][66] The National Assembly was disavowed by Maduro in 2017[67] and is seen as "the only democratically elected institution left in the country".[68]

Maduro's election was supported by Russia, China, and ALBA.[69][70] Internally, Maduro has received the support of the pro-government Constituent Assembly, while Guaidó is backed by the pro-opposition National Assembly.