Venezuela is in the midst of a deep political crisis that could turn extremely dangerous.
On January 23rd, the 35-year-old head of the Venezuela’s National Assembly Juan Guiado declared himself president of Venezuela, promising to serve in that role on an interim basis before free elections could be held. He was quickly recognized as the legitimate head of state by the United States, Canada, the Organization of American States and many countries in Latin America.
De-facto president Nicolas Maduro is rejecting this claim. Maduro still controls most of the government, including crucially the security services. So far, military leadership has yet to defect and proclaim to Guiado. Meanwhile, Maduro is backed by other countries in the region, and also some key international players like Russia.
There is an extremely dangerous standoff underway in Venezuela, the outcome of which is very far from certain.
On the Global Dispatches podcast o provide some context to help you understand this crisis is Ivan Briscoe. He is the regional director for Latin America with the International Crisis Group.
We kick off discussing the political context of this situation, including how a relatively unknown politician came to declare himself President. We then discuss the crucial role of the military and security services in determining the political future of Venezuela and whether or not it was a mistake for the US and other countries to quickly rally behind Guiado.
This is obviously a very rapidly unfolding situation. Ivan Briscoe brings some dispassionate analysis that will give you the context and background you need to interpret events in the coming days and weeks.
Ivan Briscoe joined Crisis Group in June 2016 as Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. He has worked on Latin American politics, conflict and crime since 1996. Before joining Crisis Group, Ivan worked as a senior research fellow in the Clingendael Institute of the Netherlands and in the Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue (FRIDE) in Spain, where he specialised in the study of illicit networks in Latin America, new forms of armed violence and the effects of inequality.
Prior to that, he worked for over a decade as a journalist and editor in Argentina, France and Spain, where he edited the English edition of El País. He has carried out fieldwork-based research in various Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, and has written for numerous media in the region and in Europe. He graduated from Oxford University with a First Class Honour’s Degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, studied as a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard University, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Development from the Complutense University of Madrid.