One Country, 2 Presidents: The Crisis in Venezuela
From the New York Times, I'm Michael Barr. This is the date. Today. A remarkable battle for power is playing out in Venezuela with drooling claims to the president's and talk of a coup Nick ace on the crisis in Caracas. It's Friday January twenty. So on January tenth in Venezuela. Nncholas Maduro put his hand on a book and swore himself in as president for another sixer. Man that was to Politika Bolivarian Thrilla, but I put up with IRA different. They're lying saying at the two weeks later in 'nother part of Caracas on Sunday. Little known wa- maker named one way though stood before a group of people and held a kind of citizens swearing in ceremony. Where he said he was the president of Venezuela. Young and he was prepared to lead the country himself. So two men are declaring themselves the president of one country two president. How is that possible? What has been going on in Venezuela that leads these two men at the exact same time to declare themselves. The rightful leader of the country. Will you have to turn the clock back to last year just before the summer? Official campaigning Venezuela's presidential election has kicked off with huge rallies. By the candidates Madeira was running for reelection. Now, remember he'd been president of this country during this massive disaster in Venezuela. At the beginning of the summer. The consi was collapsing people were losing even more of their savings than they ever had. Hospitals were completely supplies and they had been for years. I was there during that time. I got sick. I got dang gay. And they weren't able to do anything about it. This was the state of the country that has the world's largest proven reserves of oil. It was an all time low and nNcholas Maduro was asking them to give him another six years as the president. And that would seem quite counterintuitive. What was his standing at that moment? How many people blamed him for the situation? Everybody blamed him. You would go around in the neighborhoods in Caracas, and they would point at how skinny they weren't say. This is the consequence of duro diet Madero diet named after the current President Nicolas Maduro, that's what it's called there. When people have lost a bunch of weight a love the past year. Seventy four percent of Venezuela's lost an average of eight point seven kilos in weight is even laughed about that. He says he thinks it's funny. This is a man who's shown very little sympathy for this massive crisis that the country is going through. So you would think under normal circumstances that it would be impossible that this person would be reelected by the country that had been brought down during his first term as president. So then here comes the night of the election and the results come in and Medeiros won Venezuela's President Nicolas Machado has been declared winner of Sunday's election. We won. Again, we were triumphant again, we've overcome all obstacles, we are the strength of history transformed into a popular victory permanent popular victory. He's going to be president for another six years Devaney Venezuelans they found that terribly shocking today the world have the ice here in Venezuela. Venezuelan have at St. today is their own survival ASA democratic nation swell cater ship their world can no longer turn a blind eye to that reality manner in which this election was conducted was under a big cloud, and immediately you see countries outside if Innis Walea condemning what had happened saying the election may have been rigged that they're not going to recognize nNcholas Maduro downsizing his win as a sham Panama Costa Rica, she lay and the US mission to the UN said, they won't recognize the results of the election. You f- resident Trump signing a new executive order this afternoon following the results of that controversial Venezuelan election. The executive order is designed to try and prevent the Venezuelan government from selling off its ask. Sets. If you're in Venezuela. It looks like you're going to have Madero as your president for another six years. They said that you were obliged to vote. They said that people were coerced. It's a lack of respect. Months pass people are generally depressed about where things are going to go in threat this process. People are asking. Where's the opposition? Here. Why are they not protesting where they're not trying to stand up to what's going on or offering alternative? He cracked down on dissenting voices prominent opposition leaders were arrested or put under house arrest. There was very little the opposition left. The version was going through and picking off leader after leader often issuing orders of arrest for them disappear. He'd find them in Columbia, you'd find them in tree lay drags from a car and briefly detained. This is believed to be the moment. Security agents in Venezuela arrested the country's opposition leader Kwame Grado, the leader of the national assembly was opposition was getting spinner and thinner at this point to the point that either you had an arrest warrant against you. Or your thought there might be one soon, and you had many many people politicians and supporters of opposition leaving the country because after the election like that kinda what hope did you have to try to challenge? This guy. Then what happened Madero continued on? And he had his dog uation, which was January tenth. I think he thought everything was going to go very smoothly. He had a big ceremony many of the people that are government attended. And he said restarting another six year term. And it's been the opposition starts to leap into action. Over parliament is now largely toothless its leader. One has vowed to fight back. We reaffirm the illegitimacy of nNcholas Maduro. The opposition had a card up its leaf, which was Venezuelan constitutions. There are articles that they can use. If a president has seized power illegally, and they say that this inauguration that he's done for himself was a seizing of power because he didn't win that election backlash here in this case, this triggers a mechanism and biz well whereby the legislature gets to take control the country and decide who's going to be running in which case it gets to be the president of the national simply who was one way though, the thirty five year old young lawmaker who one had ever heard of one of the last remaining men standing. Your new India? He did something that no one in the opposition had been willing to do which was to take Madero on by saying that he was actually the president of finish Walea which was an extremely anxious move, right? It's really hard to underestimate. How much risk is involved in taking on Madeira this way? Thing they might do. Gwynn's? Some. So beyond invoking obscure rules from the constitution. What is quite does plan for how to execute this and knock out Madero? Why think you saw some of it the day that he inaugurated himself? And this was a really surprising day for everybody that was covering this. He went out he had this big ceremony in just within minutes of him declaring himself the president of Venezuela. You had announcement from the US that they were going to recognize him. Oh, LA, I'm Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States and on behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people. Let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you the people of Venezuela. Raise your voices in a call for freedom. Nncholas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. He's never won the presidency in a free and fair election. And he's maintained his grip of power by imprisoning. Anyone who dares to oppose? The United States. Join and then you had announcement from Canada that they were going to recognize. So let me say on behalf of Canada that we recognize an express our full support for the intern presidency of Venezuela assumed by the president of the national assembly one go, and then it just became like dominoes. You had Costa Rica Paraguay Argentina? Rumer says allows a Roo in Brazil. Columbia Columbia saying at one white. Oh, come in swell. Companion is due process. Veterans on us cassia. Aasiya, but I can polo and Solano sell UA all of these countries. Suddenly said now we no longer recognized enduro. It's white oh, who's the president of Venezuela? So what you could see was there must have been another part of this plan here, which wasn't just to make this crazy statement that he was the president. But also potentially a back channel of which they had a lot of lined up to go along with this plan when he did it on Wednesday. I have to say that I'm struck that. All these major democracies are backing Guido who is not democratically elected as the leader of. Why exactly are they doing that? Yeah. Well, I'm surprised to frankly govering this, you know, he wasn't elected. And people didn't really know who he was. I think people are still trying to look under the hood of who this man is. So what does it show it shows that the international community has gotten pretty desperate at this point finding any alternative to Madero who's become a dictator swipe think when the Air National countries when Venezuela's neighbors when the US finally saw that there was someone who is finally willing to take him on face to face. They seized the opportunity and it's a big gamble because they're gambling on someone that doesn't really have a long track record along history in Venezuela. Frankly is just beginning to know so countries like the US are not so much supporting quite oh as they are supporting the removal and a substitution. of Madero if Medeiros gone someone's got to be in charge. So if your goal is to get rid of Madero, you're also has to be to say who would be the president. And I think that's largely the reason why why has so much. Backing right now is because he's not Madero. The United States joins with all freedom loving nations in recognizing the nationalist simply as the last vestige of democracy in your country for it's the only body elected by the people as such the United States supports the courageous decision. By one Guadagno, the president of your national assembly to assert that bodies constitutional powers declare Maduro your server and call for the establishment of transitional government on behalf of the American people. We say to all the good people of Venezuela. Stomas status. We are with you. We stand with you. And we will stay with you until democracy is restored. And you reclaim your birthright of Lieber Todd. Mateus Grassi is be vion Conti oes. Right back. This tax season. You don't have to leave your house for professional help. Turbo. Tax live is a new way of doing taxes real CPA's in e as can review your taxes with you on your schedule their on demand. Tax pros have the expertise to ensure you feel a hundred percent confident filing your return. They'll stick with you until all your questions are resolved and find all the deductions that apply to you. See you can maximize your refund. Turbo tax live with CPA's in e as on demand. See details at turbotax dot com. So how does Madero respond to this big international outpouring of support for basically his well, he's through a big tantrum on Wednesday. Leaving mundo. A C then take on people journal. Hicfa starting with the clearing that he was cutting diplomatic ties the US he ordered personnel of the embassy out in seventy two hours. This started kind of a fascinating chain of events where the US said it wasn't going to leave because it recognize one though is the president and way though came out with a statement saying, you're officials are welcome to stay. We're the government, and we would love to have diplomatic relations with continued just as they had before. And how the people of sway responded to this intervention by countries. Like the US. It's been surprising to me. It was surprising to me starting maybe eighteen months ago when I talked to friends and colleagues who are back in Venezuela. And they would ask me what the US was gonna do about this. And my response would always be would you mean what the US is going to do about it? You don't certainly want the US to be involved in this. Do you use has got a long history in Latin America that people don't like I mean, it was the US? Pinochet into power is the US had the coup got rid of our Bengals Mon and got Amal in the nineteen. Fifties was a democratically elected leader US history of interventions has been very checkered. But it is a consequence of this strange situation that Madero has put the country in where unpopular leader who's presiding over a deep collapse in the country won't go won't take the exit. The people actually got the position this isn't everybody invents? But this is a lot of people in Venezuela who are saying why doesn't the US intervene and try to save. And if it's not the US them, why don't our own military do this. I think that's what you actually hear much more on the streets of Venice Williams. How could the military stand by and let this man continue to run the country as he does. And these two things asking for intervention and asking for a military coup are parts of the past the Latin America's been trying to bury for years. So to see them both be part of the landscape again in Venezuela. I find to be a little. Terrifying. Frankly, I met a woman who was protesting in the plaza last year, and she was telling me how much you wanted Donald Trump to intervene. And this shocked me she told me that she'd be happy to see you as tanks circling around Caracas. And I told her do, you know, what this means to have a US invasion of your country. And this girl was nineteen. I don't think she really knew. But you are seeing people that are saying things that you would have thought were preposterous years ago because they've suffered so many years under Madero given the openness because of the situation in Venezuela to countries like the US weighing in does the support and the recognition of all these international powers give the opposition more power as they try to take over. Will. It does doesn't it doesn't symbolically. It's great. They have all this support from outside of Finnish Walea, but what they needed support inside Venezuela with they have now is all the recognition, but they. Have any of the weapons they don't have control over the military. And ultimately, it's the military. That's going to be the arbiter of power in Venezuela in really has been the one that's been holding up Madero. If anything's going to change they have to go from holding up Madero toting up though, ultimately the power at any constitutional democracy is is kind of a magic it's whether people are willing to respect the norms. And when they don't like what's happening in Venezuela. The constitution has kind of melted away. It just comes down to the people that have got the weapons as the ones that can say who's in charge. It's the ones where the weapons that are saying Medeiros in charge. And if that changes, it's probably going to be the same generals for the ones that determined that. He's not does that start to look Nick like a military coup. Backed by the US government it does because you have the US government supporting opposition parties the supporting military intervention by there. Own military against the man, who's running the government each of those links is there, and it would link the US to what happens afterward. You just don't know. When you ask the armed forces to get involved. It's really up to them. What happens next? So it could all go very badly. And then everybody who supported would be implicated, including the US. Potentially. So what exactly is the military way right now knowing that they hold all the power in this equation. So one side the military loose very well under Madero, the top brass the military lift lavish lives this lots of forms of revenue. They have lots of control of the economy. Many top officers are involved in the drug trade smuggling. Even though this big crisis in Venezuela. They're not living it at the top on the other end. They're seeing that this institution which had been beloved by Venice Waylon getting increasingly tarnished for being on the side of Madero. And they're also seeing that so much of the world is now getting behind way though and wondering probably whether Moore is going to be around forever, and what they're going to do after Medeiros gone themselves. So this is kind of dilemma that they're facing who side to get on which side, they think is gonna be right in history, and the given how much time you have. On the ground in Venezuela. I wonder if you have an instinct for which of these will weigh more on the military, and how it will go. We'll I can't say how long it's going to take. But I think that these military officers and rank and file people are looking out their windows every morning, and they're seeing that the crowds are angry. And that they're getting bigger. And the thing to do something about these crowds, and they need to get on the side of them as opposed on the side of single person who's running the country. But I have no idea how they're going to make the decision when. Here's what else you need so much. Fred later today. Thirty four of this partial government shutdown. The Senate will be voting on a proposal to finally ended on Thursday for the first time since the partial government shutdown began the Senate voted onto plans proposed by Republicans and Democrats to reopen the government predators compromise would accomplish three times. I shot down and resumes. Pay for federal workers right away. Second. It's drugs about partisan compromise on the issue of immigration and border security with ideas from both sides and third it provides stable full year funding for the federal government, the Republican Bill which would have funded President Trump's proposed border wall failed by a vote of fifty to forty seven and was supported by a single democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Our proposal allows us to open up the government, and then then after governments open settle our differences over border security, the democratic Bill which would not have funded the wall also failed by a vote of fifty two to forty four. But was supported by half a dozen Republicans, including Senator Susan Collins of Maine Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who defied the president in backing the measure. Chris it is that this government is sucked down over a promise to president United States. Couldn't cape. And then Americans. Keep decides that he was gonna build a medieval walled cross the southern border of Texas. Take it from the farmers and ranchers that were there. Thanks. That's why we're here because he's now saying the taxpayers have to pay work before. And after the votes tempers flared on the Senate floor as lawmakers like Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado express their fury over the length of the shutdown and the absence of serious negotiations to bring it to an end the leash we could do. Reopen our government at stop pursuing the self inflicted harm that it creates hundreds of thousands of federal workers out of work and not being paid not able to support their families. While we continue to stand on this floor having mindless arguments that are to do nothing to advance the future of our country. The daily is produced by feel Lindsey garrison. Rachel Wester any Brown Andy meals, I threes, camaraderie, Claire tennis getter, Michael Simon Johnson. Jessica chump, Alexandra Leon and Jonathan wolf and edited by page. Cowan LaRussa Anderson and Wendy door. Lisa Tobin is our executive producer. Samantha Hennig is editorial director our technical manager. Is Brad Fischer? Our engineer is Chris would. And our theme music is by Jim Bromberg and Ben lands for of wonderful special. Thanks to Samdahl MC, McCabe Usha and Stella town. That's it for the daily. I'm michael. Other than your absolute best friends who could you ask to bring you a breakfast burrito at eight AM and red wine at four pm post mates. Post mates is your personal delivery service all year round. Download the app for free rows, local, restaurants and businesses and track your delivery with twenty five thousand partner merchants post mates can bring you whatever. You're craving within the hour. Download the post meets up and use code the daily to get one hundred dollars of free delivery credit for your first seven days download post mates and use code the daily.