Nicolas Maduro is a survivor. Let’s be honest about this and give the Venezuelan leader credit where he deserves it. He has held onto power for years despite massive protests, a wrecked economy, international sanctions, and worldwide condemnation. Through all of this, Maduro has maintained a vise-like grip on power, in large part because the Venezuelan military has remained in his corner. But the time might be approaching where that support disappears and when that happens, Maduro’s position will become tenuous in the blink of an eye.
The political situation in Venezuela has changed dramatically over the last month. International pressure on Maduro to either resign, or hold new elections is growing by the day. The opposition has united under the leadership of Juan Guaido and is gaining strength and momentum with each passing day. US sanctions have become a financial noose around the Maduro government’s neck, and the Trump administration can tighten the rope even more if it so desires. As conditions stand at the moment, Maduro’s level of power, and influence have nowhere to go except down. His supporters, and allies around the world do not have the economic, and political clout to effectively counter the US-led diplomatic, and economic offensive now underway against Maduro. Russia, arguably Venezuela’s closest ally, is not going to rescue Maduro in the same manner it did Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Reports have surfaced in the US media over the last 24 hours regarding a rumor that some of Maduro’s aides are putting together an escape plan for their embattled leader should it become necessary. If the rumor holds true, it reinforces Maduro’s reputation as a survivor, and also shows that Venezuela’s leader is more of a realist than his Utopia-themed, pipedreamish public speeches let on. One of his political role models is former Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was removed from power and killed by Chile’s military leaders in 1973. Allende was an avowed leftist who attempted to bring socialism to Chile. The experiment was rocky and brought on economic difficulties for Chile’s people. However, it was nothing compared to the humanitarian, and economic nightmare Venezuela is facing right now.
Like Allende, Maduro’s survival is directly linked to keeping the military in his corner. If it becomes clear to him that the relationship is starting to sour, his survival instinct will likely kick in. From there, Maduro could step down and leave the country. Not the most glorious conclusion for the most powerful man in Venezuela. However, it is preferable to being removed from power by his generals, and meeting a fate similar to that of Allende.