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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó speaking to supporters in Caracas on April 30, 2019. Photo: Rafael Briceno/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó took his confrontation up a notch on Tuesday, appearing in front of a Caracas Air Force base with several soldiers and calling for an uprising to end the control of Nicolás Maduro.

Why it matters: Guaidó has been the legal president, recognized by the U.S. and over 50 other nations, for more than 3 months. Despite this support and the pressure of U.S. energy sanctions, power on the ground hadn’t shifted.

Where it stands: So far, the opposition's gambit hasn’t worked. Maduro, though largely silent, remains in command, his military leaders tweeting their allegiance throughout the day. Guaidó is still free but taking precautions and not publicly revealing his location. Newly liberated opposition leader Leopoldo López fled with his family first to Chile's embassy and then to Spain's.

Between the lines: Nevertheless, plenty of possible developments didn’t come to pass.

  • Backroom negotiations between U.S. officials, opposition leadership and members of the military and Maduro's regime seem to have been attempted but didn't end conclusively.
  • Three members of Maduro’s inner circle didn't turn on their leader (as national security adviser John Bolton said was planned).
  • Maduro didn't get on a plane to Havana (as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested had been in the works).
  • Other members of the military's top brass didn't split from the regime to join the opposition.

What to watch: The military didn’t face a Tiananmen or Tahrir Square moment and has not yet confronted the prospect of shooting on unarmed citizens (although cable news repeatedly replayed footage of a National Guard armored personal carrier plowing into protestors).

  • 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.

Shannon K. O'Neil is vice president, deputy director of studies and Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

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The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

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Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.