Venezuela: Guaidó Makes His Move

Venezuela: Guaidó Makes His Move

Yesterday, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced the "final phase" of his bid to unseat President Nicolás Maduro from power. Flanked by soldiers, he urged Venezuelans into the streets and called for the country's military to rise up against the Maduro regime.


Thousands of civilians heeded his call, clashing with police in Caracas and other major cities. But although US National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed that top members of the regime had agreed in recent days to oust Maduro, so far it looks like the military is sticking with him. That's crucial.

The endgame in Venezuela has seemingly dragged on forever. Here is the background for this latest, and perhaps decisive, clash between Guaidó and Maduro:

What has changed recently: Venezuela's economic situation was already dire when Guaidó returned to Venezuela in March after rallying foreign support for his cause, and since then the situation has worsened. Massive blackouts have roiled the country and the US has tightened sanctions on Venezuelan crude exports – one of the regime's only sources of money. At some point, the economic squeeze could fracture Maduro's inner circle and alienate his main external financial lifelines – Russia and China. But we're not there just yet.

Will the generals flip? This has always been the key question. So far, Maduro has managed to keep the top brass on his side, while tamping down the occasional revolt by members of the junior ranks. On Tuesday, Leopoldo López, a former opposition leader who has been under house arrest, appeared alongside Guaidó for his video broadcast, suggesting that soldiers who had been guarding him had changed their allegiance. But Guaidó needs defections from the higher-ups if he wants to succeed. So far, the brass isn't budging.

Maduro's crackdown calculus: He's already moved to shut down the internet and social media. But if a critical mass of citizens and soldiers does rise up against him, he'll have to decide whether to crack down, and how hard. That's not an easy calculus. He'll want to suppress any massive challenge to public order, but at the same time, if he orders his troops to fire on a large number of people and the soldiers ignore him, his authority would be crippled and it could be game over for him.

Maduro might also prefer to wait and see if this attempted putsch fizzles out on its own. If that happens, it could finally be game over – not for Maduro, but for Guaidó.

Want more? Read this thread on what Guaidó may be up to, written by the author of a book on coups.

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The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

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35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

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