Global Outlook 2017: Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro waves before making a speech in Caracas
Jan. 15, 2017: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was defiant as ever while greeting supporters in Caracas before giving his annual report to the nation (source: dpa)
  • President Maduro has largely eliminated the threat of a recall or military coup
  • His longer-term survival may hinge on reviving oil output and stopping hyperinflation
  • More mass protests and a default by oil company PDVSA are possible in 2017
  • Even in the worst case, the Chavista government may be saved by opposition disarray

After a tumultuous 2016 in which President Nicolas Maduro appeared on the brink of falling, Venezuela’s government seems to have bought itself more time in power. This is quite a change from mid-year, when Mr. Maduro appeared on the verge of exit. However, he has proven to be more astute than his political adversaries – and even allies – gave him credit for.

Over the past six months, the president neutralized the opposition, pushed forward a bond swap to avoid defaulting on the country’s sovereign debt, co-opted an important part of the military leadership and partially defused one social conflict that posed a potential threat to his presidency. Taken together, these actions have tempered Venezuela’s restive social and economic situation and point toward Mr. Maduro’s survival in office until 2018.

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