These end of year days are not very newsworthy, so instead of the weekly +58 Reports we will be focused on making a projection of what the “formal” opposition seems to be planning for the year 2021 and how the regime has been preparing for it. But before going into these details, it is very important not to forget the unavoidable realities that go beyond 2021:
- The threat of terrorism and drug trafficking posed by the Venezuelan regime sooner or later will force the United States to take action.
- The millions of displaced Venezuelans all over Latin America who become a bigger problem as the economies feel the effect of the pandemic. This will seriously affect all of them next year.
- The political destabilization of Latin America, fueled by the members of the Sao Paulo Forum, which may bring unexpected situations and reactions in different countries. Here the weight of the presence of the Venezuelan regime seems to be as important as that of the Cuban regime.
- The balance and cohesion of the groups that share power in Venezuela is absolutely decisive for the regime’s survival. Is the increasing limitation of resources likely to cause an unexpected schism?
- “Black Swans”, the Berlin Wall type, tend to appear when a regime seems more stable and solid and the more hopelessness accumulates
The April 31st Plan”in motion
- The operating mechanisms of the planned way the “formal” opposition in the future is becoming increasingly clear. It had already been reported outside the country and not it is a fact that the National Assembly will be limited in size with only 33 legislators and with the risk of imprisonment.
- The interim government’s failure in its efforts to oust the regime from power these two years, coupled with the impending new administration in the United States, are unleashing other forces. The ineffectiveness has been such that the aid to health personnel or the distribution of food that Goya has delivered is not even known or has been made public.
- From the opposition perspective what has done the most damage is not having common and agreed objectives and strategies. Worse still was that this fact was hidden under a supposed unity. Said unity served the G4 / MUD / AN to sort of deceive itself, to hide those who had always been working with the regime from within and to make up the excuse that María Corina Machado was the unity-breaker. Probably not all of them have come out of hiding yet.
- It is clear that a plan is underway, surely prepared jointly with Borrell and others in Europe, for a negotiation that will lead to some kind of elections with Maduro still in power:
- The NA has already been in charge of modifying the mantra, placing Maduro’s departure after the elections. This opens up all kinds of possibilities for “negotiation” with the regime.
- Leopoldo López has been feeding this publicly, with a lot of noise in the world media, and with relevant meetings both in Spain and Colombia. The change in the political line is so pronounced that it even generates suspicion that López’s sudden departure from the Spanish Embassy could have been worked out in an internationally and locally coordinated way to fulfill his current role.
- The rumors that abound suggest that the plan that Leopoldo López is proposing includes the very same team that produced the resounding failure of 30A: the Army representatives, the TSJ and the Enchufados. It’s success is a difficult as April having 31 days, that is why we refer to it as the “April 31st Plan”. It is not easy to explain the reason why this same combination of characters can work this time.
- Having an agreement with Europe and Colombia they must now await the unknown associated with what Biden and his team decide.
- The reality is that the position of strength of the opposition is now minimal. There is not even any potential “insanity” from Trump that threatened the regime.
- By the way, in the Meganalysis survey of December 2021, to the affirmation of Leopoldo López that in Venezuela “it is necessary to establish a transitional government composed of Chavistas and opponents” 86.5% say that it is “an absurd and unacceptable idea” and 75.3% believe that “the consultation carried out by Guaidó on December 12 was a failure.”
- This year, Venezuela became economically 20% of what it was a few years ago and for the first time Econétrica predicts growth (millimetric 1%) for 2021. The sanctions forced the regime to dismantle many of the controls that had been imposed since Chávez and that produced the “economic opening” that has been experienced recently. The scarcity of products disappeared, but the price for that has been the lack of economic power of the population and a business community trying to survive with volumes that do not even reach the equilibrium point for the large majority. A part of the business community is betting on something like the “April 31st Plan”, hoping that the economy will start to grow again. This vision is clearly defined in the BBC article “International pressure did not force political change in Venezuela, but it has forced economic change.” This also corroborates that the only pressure that has worked has been the sanctions.
- The viability of the “April 31st Plan” depends absolutely on the regime’s willingness and capacity to negotiate competitive elections, even when it is for governors and mayors.
- The willingness to negotiate is associated with their willingness to leave power and that has been totally absent until now. The external pressures applied have forced it to open the economy, but politically they have only been reinforced in their position.
- The ability to negotiate depends on the balance between the groups that make up the regime. Since there is no dominant group, there is also no guarantee that the group you are talking to will be able to fulfill an assumed commitment.
- The preparation to negotiate under their terms is clearly stated in the work they have been doing and which includes: (a) development of alliances that support politically and to break the blockade (Russia, China, Iran, Turkey), (b ) the control of all opposition parties and that of the election of the NA and (c) the anti-blockade law to provide a cloak of legality to any decision and to silence what worries or bothers them.
- There have always been a set of institutions, academics, and stakeholders who have argued that the only political solution for Venezuela was a co-government with the regime. Now they speak louder and a good example of that approach can be found in this analysis by the International Crisis Group:Venezuela: What Lies Ahead after Election Clinches Maduro’s Clean Sweep .
- The highly complex and controversial transition of administrations in the United States, as well as the time it will take to shape and implement the ideas of the Biden presidency have opened the field for all the enemies of the United States. The pressure to force reactions from the United States in compliance with the sanctions has already begun and as an example Venezuela has resumed the direct shipment of oil to China despite the sanctions. The Russians also test Biden and take advantage of the interregnum and Iran builds an underground nuclear facility. Even AMLO in Mexico limits the presence of US anti-drug officials.
- Rebuilding relations with its traditional allies will surely be a key element in the Biden Administration’s approach to Venezuela, and that will be a somewhat complex process.
- In regards to the displaced Venezuelans concerns continue to appear: Iván Duque declares that the migration of Venezuelans will be unsustainable and that they do not have international aid and the UN projects that Venezuelan migrants will be more than 6 million in 2021.
- Regarding the Essequibo, the International Court of Justice decided that it does have the power to resolve the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana. Now the case goes to the second phase, where the Court will evaluate if the arbitration award of 1899 is valid, as Guyana argues … Milos Alcalay comments that “This is the result of the negligence, improvisation and lack of professionalism of Chavista-Madurista diplomacy”