Over nine weeks have passed since Juan Guaidó, backed by the National Assembly, declared himself interim President of Venezuela on 24 January 2019, challenging the incumbent President Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó continues to enjoy support from the US, Colombia, Brazil, and other states, but admits that a change in government cannot occur without the backing of the Venezuelan armed forces.
In his own corner, Maduro continues to be backed by Russia and China. On 29 March, Russian military personnel and matériel arrived by plane in Venezuela. The Kremlin claims that this deployment is legal and that it does not alter the regional balance of power. Guaidó has urged his supporters to a final push, scheduling protests for 6 April.
Mass blackouts continue to paralyse the country. The power outages, which began on 7 March and have so far affected at least 18 of Venezuela’s 23 states, are cutting off water supplies, communications, and other key services for days at a time. On Sunday 31 March, Maduro announced a 30-day electricity rationing plan, under which schools will stay closed and offices will finish the working day at 14:00 to conserve power. Despite engineers at the Central University of Venezuela attributing the blackouts to a bush fire that took out a section of the power grid, Maduro continues to blame the outages on a US cyber-attack.
After the heated standoff in February over US aid lorries at the Venezuela-Colombia border, the Red Cross (IFRC) is set to begin its own distribution of humanitarian aid supplies. It will take radical change within Venezuela to end the mass destitution besetting the country. Such change must come from the Venezuelan workers themselves.