Journo: I'd Expect Less Action in Venezuelan Streets, More on Diplomatic Front

© REUTERS / Carlos Garcia RawlinsProtesters clash with riot police during a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas
Protesters clash with riot police during a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas - Sputnik International
Nicolas Maduro, the nation's President, said Wednesday that Caracas will reconsider its relationship with the US after US Vice President Mike Pence expressed support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's idea of establishing a transitional government. Sputnik discussed it with journalist and editor of Revista Vistazo Arnaldo Espinoza.

Sputnik: Do you think that the confrontation between the protest movement and Maduro will reach a peak in 2019, or are we about to witness events similar to those that happened in 2014 and 2017?

Arnaldo Espinoza: 2014, 2017 and 2019 are different circumstances. 2019 adds the pressure of the international community, this time led by president Trump and the regional Lima Group. Also, you have a humanitarian crisis that wasn't present in 2014 and was just beginning in 2017. I would expect less action in the streets and more on the diplomatic front.

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Sputnik: What kind of reaction can we expect in Venezuela after Mike Pence issued a video where the US officially backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Arnaldo Espinoza: From Maduro's government, same as always: The US is meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. From the people in the streets? I think they are aware that these kinds of statements are important but are not going to tip the scale.

Sputnik: After today events (Juan Guaidó announcment and Trump decision to recognize him) Does this really change whole dynamic of this protests?

Arnaldo Espinoza: I don't know if it changes the dynamic of these protest, but certainly it changes the dynamic of power in Venezuela. We still have to see what, if any, will be Trump's and Trodeau's involvement in all of this

Sputnik: It's been reported that the Venezuelan army is no longer united regarding the protest movement and Maduro. Could this lead to an open confrontation between factions in the military?

Arnaldo Espinoza: That is unpredictable. We know that the hierarchy supports Maduro's government. But we don't know anything about the middle-rank officials, who have troops under their command and firepower.

Juan Guaido, president of National Assembly, shows marks on his wrists, which he says are from handcuffs, to supporters at a rally in Caraballeda, Venezuela, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. The new head of Venezuela's increasingly defiant congress was pulled from his vehicle and briefly detained by police Sunday, a day after the U.S. backed him assuming the presidency as a way out of the country's deepening crisis. Guaido's wife Fabiana Rosales stands next to him, right. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) - Sputnik International
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Sputnik: Do you think that neighbouring countries (Colombia and Brazil) will assume a more active role in the Venezuelan crisis?

Arnaldo Espinoza: They have. And they will, if necessary. Both president Duque and president Bolsonaro have stated that they will work towards reestablishing democracy in Venezuela. They also face pressure within their countries due to the uncontrolled migration coming from Venezuela and it is in their best interest to find a solution.

READ MORE: Skirmishes Across Venezuela as US, Allies Endorse Presumptive President Guaido

Sputnik: Some moderate leaders of the protest movement have proposed round table talks and a peaceful transition of power. Do you think both sides are still willing to talk to each other?

Arnaldo Espinoza: There are factions within each group willing to talk. For the opposition, sitting with government officials will be viewed as a huge step backwards

The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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