The Challenges Facing a Would-Be Coup in Venezuela

    Imdat Oner

    Security, Americas

    Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (L) meets with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit, in Astana, Kazakhstan September 10, 2017. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

    A successful military coup seems unlikely in Venezuela since high-ranking officials in the military explicitly side with the regime.

    After Venezuela’s dictator Maduro won the sham elections on May 20, the Trump administration has been facing the difficult question of how to push for a transition of power in Venezuela. After a long time, high-level officials of the United States administration have started to hint at the desirability of a putsch in that Latin American country. For instance, recent remarks of Florida’s Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, and White House Senior Director for Latin America, Juan Cruz, calling for the Venezuelan army to stand against the Maduro regime, sparked a discussion of a possible military coup. Amid these discussions, some experts on Venezuela have speculated what a possible military intervention against Maduro government could accomplish.

    Conventional wisdom points out that it would be unwise for the Trump administration to encourage a coup d’état in Venezuela against Maduro, who remains entrenched in power. One of the reasons is that, alongside all repercussions of a coup, the U.S. officials should not rule out the high probability of a failed coup attempt. It is also plausible to argue that the consequences of a failed plot would be of great danger for Venezuela and the entire region.

    Fed up with rampant corruption, the abuse of power, and the dire humanitarian situation, Venezuelans are seeking a way out of the catastrophe Maduro has made. In a situation where the opposition is paralyzed, and other democratic options have not worked, a military intervention offers a glimpse of hope amid the worsening crisis for Venezuelan people. Some believe that a putsch will topple the Venezuelan dictatorship and pave the way for democracy is the best-case scenario. Although such a coup could eventually be the catalyst for a political change in Venezuela, some domestic and external factors illustrate the difficulty of toppling Maduro government.

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