Jan 5, 2020

Maduro attempts to seize power of Venezuelan legislature

Juan Guaidó climbs a railing in an attempt to reach the National Assembly building in Caracas, Jan. 5. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP via Getty Images

Venezuela’s government disrupted a National Assembly leadership election on Sunday, with security forces forcibly blocking opposition leader Juan Guaidó — who is recognized by the U.S. and nearly 60 other countries as the legitimate president — from entering the chamber so it could swear in a candidate loyal to President Nicolás Maduro.

Why it matters: Guaidó’s international legitimacy rests on the fact that, as assembly president, he is Venezuela’s highest-ranking official to have been democratically elected. Sunday's events could muddy those waters and further strengthen Maduro’s hold on power. 

The big picture: The hope that desperate Venezuelans placed in Guaidó after he proclaimed himself president last January has gradually faded, particularly after an audacious attempt to seize power failed in April.

  • Today, Maduro pressed his advantage. The move followed allegations that Maduro was attempting to use bribery to fix the vote. 
  • The opposition could struggle to regroup now after apparently losing control of what had been the last government institution not controlled by Maduro’s autocratic regime. 

Flashback: Asked last month by Axios about this scenario — in which a Maduro loyalist claimed the assembly presidency by dubious means — Colombia’s ambassador to Washington shook his head: “We don't even want to think about that.”

Go deeper: Venezuela's Maduro survives 2019

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Maduro says he is firmly in control and won't be stopped by U.S. sanctions

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Jan. 14. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that he is comfortably in control of his country and open to direct negotiations with the U.S. to resolve their "confrontational relationship."

Why it matters: The Trump administration's bet that Maduro would fall in 2019 in the midst of an economic collapse, a massive refugee crisis and an international push for regime change appears to have failed.

Go deeperArrowJan 19, 2020

Venezuela's Guaidó seeks support from Europe in Davos address

Guaidó visits the European Parliament. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

DAVOS — Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó used an address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to demand elections and call for more support from Europe.

Why it matters: Recognized as president by the U.S. but locked out of power for the past year by the regime of Nicolás Maduro, Guaidó is desperate to change an equation that tipped in Maduro's favor after a failed uprising last April.

Go deeperArrowJan 23, 2020

Trump puts America's superpower status to the test

Trump's White House address on Iran. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump has shrunk America's global presence in many ways, but he has also at times placed high-risk bets on its superpower status.

Driving the news: Trump didn't want war with Iran, yet he ordered the killing of Iran's top commander. That requires enormous faith in the shield of American military superiority.

Go deeperArrowJan 10, 2020