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Venezuela: What Comes Next?

Venezuela: What Comes Next?

Well, Maduro won. What comes next in the harrowing story of Venezuela’s collapse?


First, the international response to the election. The US, EU, and most of Venezuela’s neighbors have refused to recognize the legitimacy of the vote and pledged to impose further sanctions. On Monday, Washington moved to block Americans from buying any Venezuelan debt, including that of government companies.

But the real question is whether the US, which buys around 450,000 barrels of crude a day from Maduro’s government, will sanction Venezuelan oil exports, which account for some 95 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings. Europe, for its part, could prohibit its companies from insuring Venezuelan oil cargoes.

So far, Washington and Brussels seem reluctant. That’s in part because knocking Venezuelan crude off the market would give a fresh boost to oil and US gasoline prices that are already at 4 year highs. But it’s also because choking off foreign currency would probably hurt ordinary Venezuelans far more than corrupt cronies who can plumb black markets for whatever they need.

Second, closer to Venezuela, the country’s neighbors — in particular Colombia and Brazil — can expect no respite from an increasingly unmanageable exodus of some 5,000 Venezuelans a day, which is taxing their infrastructure, fraying social cohesion, and becoming a critical political issue ahead of upcoming presidential elections (Colombia’s first round this weekend, Brazil’s this fall.)

Lastly, within Venezuela itself, it remains to be seen whether a beleaguered and deeply divided collection of opposition groups — who split over whether to even participate in the election — can find a way to bring Maduro to the negotiating table on any reasonable terms now.

For the time being, Maduro seems still to command the support of the military brass and other economic power brokers whose loyalty is — as we wrote last week — more important than popular legitimacy. Yes, his country is collapsing around him, but so long as oil revenues keep flowing in and the opposition is divided, Maduro could cling to power for a long time still.

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream