If you haven’t read the news lately, there’s a constitutional, economic and humanitarian crisis going on in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves. No, this not about a kingdom in the Arabian Gulf, it is about Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez’s socialist/Marxist policies turned a healthy Venezuelan economy into one suffering from shortages of everything. Maduro assumed Chavez’s mantle and after a narrowly being elected with 50.52% of the vote, he has ruled by decree. In attempt to legitimize his regime, Maduro held a special election in May 2018 that most of the country’s population and the world viewed as fraudulent. His opponents were jailed, threatened or killed and still took to the streets to protest.
The majority or the world supports Juan Guaidó, president of Venezuela’s General Assembly who was sworn in as President. Cuba, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Turkey are among a handful who still recognize Maduro’s regime.
So, if you believe Maduro’s time as Venezuela’s leader is limited, where could he go? Countries may consider accepting Maduro to provide support to return him to power. Or, they would receive a large chunk of money from Maduro or another government willing to pay the host country (or its leaders) for the headaches associated with giving him sanctuary.
The possible list has two front runners – Cuba and Iran – and several outliers – Russia, North Korea, the PRC and maybe Bolivia or Panama. All have the security apparatus that can protect Maduro and control his access to the rest of the world.
The Cubans are helping keep Maduro in power and would help him destabilize Guaidó’s government. Iran courted Chavez and Maduro and may take him as a way to poke at the U.S. It’s the enemy of my enemy is my friend game.
In tier two is Russia and the PRC. Putin may see taking Maduro as a way to create mischief. However, Maduro may not like the restrictions that come with living in Moscow or Bejing. The Chinese may decide Maduro is not worth the headache.
What about North Korea? It is an option but if you were Maduro, would you want to live in Pyongyang? Its shortages make Venezuela’s current situation look like the land of plenty. And, would you trust Kim Jung-Un with your life?
Which leaves Panama or Bolivia. Both are not far from Caracas but, if you were Maduro, would you trust either government with your safety?
Maduro is getting desperate despite his statements that he is the victim of a coup. Guaidó, has offered Maduro amnesty if he steps down. Sadly, he will leave office when the Venezuelan military leadership decides that the perks Maduro offers are not worth a bloody civil war or being sent to prison after he is gone. Maduro will leave office in the near future and it is a question of where will he go – a country willing to give him sanctuary or a cemetery.