Experts Warn Ousting Maduro Without Violence Is Unlikely

Recognizing Guaido is risky, limits options

The Trump Administration has been very clear on their policy with respect to Venezuela. They supported regime change for months on end, and when opposition leader Juan Guaido claimed to be interim president, they loudly endorsed him, and accused everyone who didn’t endorse him of being in league with the Maduro government.

Experts, however, are warning that this is a risky strategy, and one that is not in keeping with traditional US government tactics. They say in particular that it is unlikely for Maduro to leave peacefully, and if he is removed, it would be by Venezuelans.

In backing regime change, the US both loses its ties to the de facto Venezuelan government, and risks embarrassment if the opposition doesn’t ultimately take over the country. It leaves the US in an inflexible position, with few options.

CFR Senior Fellow Shannon O’Neil called it a “huge break from precedent,” noting that the US continued to recognize the Soviet Union for over 50 years despite being hostile to them. He says the hope is to rally support to regime change, but failing that, it will leave the US “stuck in this limbo with fewer alternatives than if you held your cards a little bit closer.”

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.