The political struggle between the Venezuelan opposition and government has reached its endgame. Unlike before, the opposition now stands united behind a civil resistance campaign. Deeply unpopular, President Nicolás Maduro can only remain in power by establishing a full-fledged dictatorship. To this end, he is escalating repression and expanding his coercive powers by setting up new paramilitary forces.

The international community could help prevent such a scenario by increasing pressure on the regime to accept talks with the opposition for a power-sharing agreement. Using a careful ‘wedging approach’, the splits now surfacing within the regime could provide an opening for a negotiated re-democratization. For re-democratization to take root, the interests of the armed forces and Chavistas currently enjoying an entrenched position in the Venezuelan state will need to be protected to some extent.

Mikael Wigell
Senior Research Fellow - The Global Security Research Programme