Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was in tough shape this time last week. Public protests and violence have been soaring, the nation’s economy is on life support, and virtually all of the rest of Latin America is unified in opposing his recent attempts to consolidate power in his party.
Today, he’s got a very clear way out, and it emerged on Friday, when President Trump threatened to attack Venezuela militarily. This threat was virtually the best-case scenario for Maduro, whose party has a long history of positioning itself as in opposition to US aggression.
Trump’s threat, then, provides Maduro with an idea political lifeline, allowing him to both dismiss the country’s economic woes as America’s fault, and to paint the opposition as secretly in league with the United States.
The opposition absolutely saw this coming, and warned the US not to say anything about Maduro’s recent actions specifically because they feared it would divide regional opposition and offer Maduro a pretext for a crackdown. This is a lesson that the US could’ve learned any number of times in Venezuela over the years, but it still seems lost on them.