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Guaidó this week in Caracas. Photo: Pedro Mattey/picture alliance via Getty

President Trump's envoy for Venezuela says he's "absolutely" confident Nicolás Maduro will fall by year's end, despite Maduro's success thus far in clinging to power.

Flashback: It has now been 6 months since Juan Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's legitimate president. The Trump administration demanded at the time that Maduro leave immediately, or else. He didn't. An attempt to topple him in April failed. Rumblings of potential U.S. military intervention haven't come to fruition.

  • "I can't predict how the regime falls, I can't predict the date," Elliot Abrams said Wednesday at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, "but I think it's inevitable."

Where things stand: Representatives of the Maduro regime and the opposition are holding talks in Barbados, mediated by Norway.

  • Guaidós ambassador to Washington, Carlos Vecchio, said at the event that there's no possibility of a political settlement unless Maduro steps down and elections follow.
  • Axios asked Abrams whether the U.S. now sees negotiations as the most likely endgame, rather than an uprising within the Venezuelan military. "People power in the streets, military coups, negotiated settlements, they interact," he said. "It's a combination of all these pressures."

Zoom out: Abrams said that of the outside actors in Venezuela, Cuba is the most vital to Maduro's survival because of the security and intelligence it provides.

  • He said Russia contributes the "psychological-political" boost of knowing "there's a big country backing you," though he claimed Moscow is "hedging their bets."
  • "What China and Russia are doing is very interesting," he continued. "On the one hand, they're providing political support for the regime. On the other hand, they're wringing it dry."
  • "Venezuela's exporting roughly 750,000 barrels a day of oil. 500,000 goes to Russia and China... to pay back previous loans."

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.