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HAROLD TRINKUNAS. “The Tragedy of the Venezuelan Opposition: Why It’s Been Unable to Effectively Challenge Maduro.” Foreign Affairs. January 5, 2018.

As the Venezuelan crisis worsens with a decline in oil production, hyperinflation and starvation continuing to destabilize the South American nation, one would expect massive discontent with the Maduro regime. Venezuela’s opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Committee, was able to win two-thirds of the seats for the National Assembly in 2015, but the coalition seems unable to effectively challenge the current regime. Maduro’s party won most of the gubernatorial races in 2017. Harold Trinkunas examines the question, why was Venezuela’s opposition unable to capitalize on the government’s massive unpopularity? In this article, he highlights some of the reasons including inter alia: the manipulation of the electoral system by the government, fraud, the opposition being formed on the basis of winning elections rather than on ideology or policy, and their underestimations of the political machinations of the Maduro regime. Harold Trinkunas is the Deputy Director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University.


In lieu of an abstract, an excerpt: “Maduro and his allies fear being held accountable if there is a political transition in Venezuela, either because they have engaged in massive corruption, are connected to international drug trafficking, or have committed human rights abuses. Many of these crimes potentially have an international dimension, as the sentencing of two nephews of Venezuela’s First Lady on cocaine-smuggling charges in a federal court in Manhattan in December 2017 illustrates. Members of the ruling elite are right to fear extradition to the United States if they lose power. They have thus deliberately set out to guard against any possibility of a coup or unfavorable election results through several tactics, including packing the Supreme Court with pro-regime judges and politicizing the armed forces, the police, and the oil industry.” 

Keywords: Venezuelan opposition; Venezuela; elections; Nicolas Maduro; Democratic Unity Committee.