Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Scene from an anti-Maduro protest in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP/Getty Images
The collapse of a U.S.-backed plot to bring down Nicolás Maduro leaves the Venezuelan opposition vulnerable, and the Trump administration with few options short of military force.
Why it matters: “What we saw happen in the last few days is a card you only get to play once," says Fernando Cutz, who served as South America director on the White House National Security Council earlier in the Trump administration.
“We’re getting very close to a put up or shut up moment. Either you go all-in on Venezuela or you pretend it never happened.”— Cutz on the Trump administration's predicament
Catch up quick: After weeks of effort, the Venezuelan opposition thought it had convinced members of Maduro's inner circle to turn on him.
National security adviser John Bolton has since laid out the next dominoes the U.S. expected to fall:
With Padrino at his side today in an early morning parade, Maduro claimed the military's total loyalty and asked: “How many deaths would there be if a civil war started here because of the senselessness of the coup-mongers and traitors?"
"There was probably an expectation from Venezuelans on the ground that when the time came that they really needed it, the U.S. would do something," Cutz says. “I don’t think the U.S. was ever ready to take that step.”
Between the lines: The Trump administration's rhetorical offensive can't last forever without results. But officials insist the equation in Caracas could shift in Guaidó's direction without military action.
What to watch: Clashes between security forces and protestors have reportedly left four dead, but we haven't seen a "Tiananmen or Tahrir Square moment," Shannon O'Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations writes for Axios Expert Voices:
"Whether the standoff escalates into widespread bloodshed may be the most decisive question for the longevity of Maduro's regime and the future of Venezuela."
Gallup's polling on safety and well-being around the world offers a glimpse at how far things have fallen since Venezuela's economic collapse began.
Williamson leaves Downing Street. Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The U.K.'s decision to involve Chinese tech giant Huawei in the construction of its 5G networks, over vigorous U.S. objections, sparked an intense debate in Westminster.
Sebastian Payne, the FT's Whitehall Correspondent, emails from London that Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to sack Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson was "dramatic and utterly unexpected."
The bottom line: "It’s a rare show of authority from an increasingly weak leader in a government that is falling apart. She has made a powerful enemy (a former chief whip who even ran her party leadership campaign) but he has been ably replaced. Meanwhile, the row about whether Huawei can be trusted goes on."
India’s Election Commission has confiscated more than $474 million worth of drugs, alcohol, cash and gold that politicians intended to distribute to voters, Axios fellow Phanindra Dahal reports.
Why it matters: The seizures expose the deep-rooted culture of vote buying in the world's largest election. With two weeks still to go in the staggered elections, the value of the seizures is already 2.5 times higher than the total from 2014.
Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment tells Phanindra this could be India's costliest election ever, with parties spending some $7 billion.
S.Y. Quraishi, India’s former chief election commissioner, tells Phanindra that “money power” is “one of the unsolved problems in the Indian elections.”
The big picture: India has completed four out of seven phases of polling, with final results expected on May 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term.
Protests against pension reform in São Paolo. Photo: Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Brazilians have been pouring in the streets to vent their anger about something that, in fairness, makes a lot of people's eyes glaze over, writes Kevin Allison of GZERO Media:
Governments do a lot of things, but few of them affect people's welfare as directly as paying for their retirement. When governments break that promise — as many do to avoid a debt crisis — the political consequences can be severe.
One approach is to cut the outlays for retirees by raising the retirement age, narrowing eligibility or reducing payouts. All of that is politically explosive.
Another approach is to raise taxes, but the jump would be huge. In Europe, taxes would have to rise as much as 30% to cover future pension outlays.
What usually happens instead is compromise.
Greenland's Disko Bay. Photo: Martin Zwick/REDA&CO/UIG via Getty Images
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit two places in the Arctic in the coming days, where it could be extremely difficult to ignore the consequences of human-caused global warming, reports Axios science editor Andrew Freedman.
Why it matters: The Arctic is warming at more than twice the rate of the rest of the globe, setting in motion a transformation of a once-frozen region.
The big picture: On May 7, Pompeo will be in Rovaniemi, Finland, for the Arctic Council forum. Finland, which is hosting the meeting, has set an agenda that puts climate change high on the list of priorities (the U.S. has already registered objections).
But, but, but: Pompeo is likely to be more interested in regional security issues, given a recent Russian military buildup and growing interest in Arctic oil and gas resources. China, too, has been increasingly eyeing the Arctic.
What to watch: The U.S., Humpert says, wants to demonstrate that it will "not surrender control over the region to Russia and China," as sea ice melts and the world heads toward a newly accessible Arctic Ocean each summer, and much thinner ice cover at other times.
He's already been to Wisconsin. Gou and Trump at a groundbreaking for a factory in the Badger State. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Terry Gou, the founder of Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn, paid President Trump a visit yesterday at the White House. But Gou is no longer just a power player in the business world, he's also a candidate for the Taiwanese presidency.
Why it matters: The door is open for an "alternative candidate," says Yuan-kang Wang of Western Michigan University. "People are tired of traditional politicians. They want a fresh face."
The Economist breaks down the pros and cons:
A word of advice: Gou told reporters that after he informed Trump he wanted to be president, Trump replied: "Not a good job.”
Catholic faithful in traditional clothing place live snakes on a statue of Saint Domenico during an annual procession in Cocullo, Italy. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
"China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. … They’re not competition for us."— Joe Biden in Iowa
"This will not age well."— Mitt Romney's response
Thanks for reading — have a lovely weekend.