What Friday’s border violence means for Venezuela – Washington Examiner

On Friday, Venezuelan forces shot at protesters along Venezuela’s border with Brazil escalating the growing conflict between embattled and illegitimate president Nicholas Maduro and U.S. backed, self-declared interim president Juan Guaido. That violence, which left two dead and at least 14 wounded, signals that there will be no easy resolution to the crisis in Venezuela.

The violence comes ahead of a Saturday deadline, called for by Guaido and supported by the Trump administration, for U.S. aid to enter the country.

With the goal of forcing regime change, the U.S. has sent millions of dollars wroth of food, medicine, and other necessities to the border. By attempting to force aid across the border, the U.S. hopes to destabilize Maduro’s grip on power, undercutting his control of supplies and facing the military to abandon support for his regime.

But if Friday’s violence is any indicator of events to come, the military is more likely to fire on anyone attempting to break through the barricaded border than to turn their weapons on their colleagues and Maduro.

For Venezuela, that means that Saturday’s looming showdown is not likely to trigger a peaceful transition of power or redirect the country away from its current trajectory of precipitous decline.

Instead, forcing a conflict over aid entering the country that is likely to result in more violence will only make it that much more difficult to incentivize the military to switch sides. That makes sense, once you’ve shot at and killed civilians, in addition to blocking food from reaching starving people, they’re far less likely to offer amnesty. That reality combined with Trump’s threat this week that should the military remain loyal to Maduro they’ll “lose everything,” means that the military is likely more entrenched in their support.

For Venezuela, where the key to power lies in securing the backing of the military, that means that the conflict over the country’s future is likely to worsen, potentially setting the stage for a long-term standoff that continues to deprive the country’s already suffering population of desperately needed supplies.

As the U.S. weighs further involvement and the possibility of using Saturday’s likely conflict as an excuse to throw more support behind Guaido, Washington must recognize that the violence already unfolding at the border makes a limited engagement and a quick resolution unlikely if not impossible.


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