An underestimation of Chavismo’s resilience means the US-backed drive to topple Nicolás Maduro has fizzled out
A year ago, on 23 January 2019, Juan Guaidó, chairman of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled national assembly, proclaimed himself president of the country and vowed to remove Nicolás Maduro from power. Guaidó’s pretender government was swiftly recognised by the Trump administration, as well as by the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Brazil, and eventually some 50 countries in total. As street protests flared in Caracas, it seemed to many outside Venezuela that Maduro’s days in office were numbered – and with them those of Chavismo, the radical left-populist movement that first surged to power in 1998 under Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Yet, one year on, Maduro remains firmly ensconced in the presidential Miraflores Palace. And not only has the US-backed attempt at regime change failed to dislodge him, but it is now Guaidó’s position at the head of the Venezuelan opposition that is looking shaky.
The fact of US backing for Guaidó’s coup attempt was itself a major factor in rallying support for Maduro
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