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What Is Happening In Venezuela?

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The ongoing power struggle in Venezuela surges as opposition continues to build against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including from the Trump administration. 

The legislature's opposition leader Juan Guaidó was sworn in as interim president just two weeks after Maduro himself was sworn in for a second term, following a widely disputed election.

The U.S., Canada and several Latin American countries were quick to recognize Guaidó's legitimacy as the country's leader, followed by Israel and Australia in later days. Other countries have threatened to also support Guaidó unless new elections are held within a week, while Russia continues to back Maduro.

In response, Maduro declared he would sever diplomatic ties with the U.S. On Monday, the Trump administration ramped up pressure by announcing new sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company. 

A country in crisis, Venezuela is experiencing violence and hunger, with one of the worst cases of economic hyperinflation in modern history. An estimated 80 percent of households don't have sufficient access to food. Millions of residents are leaving for neighboring countries. 

To keep power in Venezuela, a leader must have the support of the country's armed forces. Will the military remain loyal to Maduro or switch allegiance to support Guaidó?

President Trump has not ruled out the use of military force. Should efforts to oust Maduro be considered a coup? What impact could U.S. sanctions have on the situation in Venezuela? 

Is new leadership the answer to Venezuela's humanitarian and economic plight? What will be the international response if Maduro holds on to power? How will mass protests this week affect the situation?

Guests: 

  • Mark Jones, fellow in political science at the Baker Institute, Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and professor in the Department of Political Science at Rice University
  • Kurt Weyland, professor in the Department of Government and Mike Hogg Professor in Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org or tweet at @TPRSource. 

This interview aired on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.