Sun, Feb 17, 2019 - Page 5 News List

‘No crystal ball’ on Maduro exit: opposition envoy


There is no telling how long it would take to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, but efforts to end his rule are “irreversible,” despite the failure so far to convince the country’s military to abandon him, the Venezuelan opposition’s envoy to the US said on Friday.

In an interview with Reuters, Carlos Vecchio, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido’s representative in Washington, pushed back against growing perception that the US-backed campaign to remove Maduro peacefully has stalled since Guaido declared himself interim president more than three weeks ago.

The Venezuelan military, which has remained loyal to Maduro despite broad international support for Guaido, would eventually turn against the president, Vecchio said.

“When will it happen? I don’t know,” he said. “No one has a crystal ball.”

However, “we are in an irreversible process of change... Time is not on Maduro’s side,” he added.

There were initially high expectations at home and abroad for Maduro’s swift exit after Guaido on Jan. 23 challenged his rule by invoking constitutional provisions, said that Maduro’s re-election last year was a sham and drew hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets.

The US, many of Venezuela’s neighbors and dozens of other countries quickly recognized Guaido as the legitimate president.

However, Maduro, who has accused Guaido of staging a US-directed coup, retains the backing of Russia and China, and control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security forces.

A former senior US official in Washington said that US President Donald Trump’s administration might have underestimated the complexities of the Venezuelan situation, especially the difficulty of spurring a mutiny in the ranks where many officers are suspected of benefiting from corruption and drug trafficking.

Washington has sought to bolster Guaido by sending humanitarian aid to Colombia’s border with Venezuela, but Maduro has blocked the shipments from getting to a population suffering food and medicine shortages.

Venezuela’s opposition has yet to come up with a way of moving the shipments into the country, but Vecchio echoed Guaido’s statement that Saturday next week would be a key date for an attempt to bring supplies across the border.

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