Stories by Michael McCarthy

Expert Voices

U.S. embargo on Venezuela raises stakes for Russia and China

Nicolas Maduro speaking at a lectern
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaking in Caracas. Photo: Matias Delacroix/Getty Images)

In the absence of a foreign policy victory in Venezuela, President Trump's economic embargo on the country shows his sights resettling on the prospect of regime change.

The big picture: Despite Washington's anointment of Juan Guaidó as the country's democratically elected leader and its tightening asset freeze on government property, regime change remains a high hurdle. Behind the administration's recent move is the untested wager that the renewed threat of extraterritorial sanctions against Venezuela's trade partners China and Russia could erode their support for President Nicolás Maduro.

Expert Voices

Maduro weakened by crisis, but still propped up by foreign support

pro-Guaido demonstraters in the street
Pro-Guaidó demonstrators near La Carlota air force base in Caracas on April 30. Photo: Jonathan Lanza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A surprise, small-scale military uprising shook embattled leader Nicolás Maduro as turmoil spread across Venezuela on Tuesday, though he did manage to hold off a cascade of defections by senior military officials.

The big picture: Opposition leader Juan Guaidó played a strong card early in the day, flipping a high-ranking military official from the SEBIN secret police force, who then helped free Guaidó mentor Leopoldo López from house arrest and released a letter criticizing Maduro. López was a high value political prisoner, so footage of him walking free powerfully undermined Maduro's credibility as commander in chief.

Expert Voices

Power outages across Venezuela have left Maduro wobbling

Caracas streets during a power outage
Caracas streets during a power outage on March 9, 2019. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro is struggling to restore power to the country’s electricity grid after a devastating 96-hour nationwide blackout knocked out cellular, internet, and water services, resulting in at least 21 preventable deaths at hospitals.

The big picture: Tottering from crisis to crisis has taken a heavy toll on Maduro. His regime hasn't yet reached a burnout point, but with social unrest erupting into lootings as the crisis-stricken country gradually regains power, he will likely face a reckoning for his failure to protect the grid.