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How Worried Should Venezuela’s Maduro Be?


With less than a month before Venezuelan elections, on July 28, incumbent President Nikolas Maduro has told Washington that he is now willing to restart direct talks. If Maduro wins, helped along by the banning and arrest of opposition figures, it will give him six more years to rule. 

According to Maduro, negotiations will start this week already, presumably looking for a pre-election win in the form of some sentiment that crippling economic sanctions will be eased. 

Of the nine opposition candidates, the one that everyone pays attention to is Gonzalez Urrutia. They pay attention despite the fact that he is really only a stand-in for Maria Machado, the opposition candidate barred by Maduro on trumped-up charges. But the opposition is gaining momentum, and Maduro is worried. When Urrutia hits the campaign trail physically, Machado has gone with him, and it’s Machado, the far-right leader, who is popular. The other eight candidates get little, if any attention, and Urrutia is intended to serve as a place-holder for the key opposition at large (Unitary Platform coalition). Machado had already won the opposition primaries, at which point Maduro had her barred. It was actually Machado’s fiery speeches that prompted Maduro to renege on his deal with Washington in the first place. She suddenly emerged as a real threat to his regime. 

The talks that Maduro is now calling “urgent” would be a reinstatement of talks that broke down earlier between Maduro and Washington,…

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