The government of Venezuela was unaware of the conversations between the United States and Cuba. The negotiations have in effect divided Havana and Caracas.
There will be no regime change in Venezuela this year. When Nicolas Maduro fails to contain inflation, which will exceed 60 percent and be the highest in the world; when people face more rationing because of a deep economic recession--the International Monetary Fund estimates a plunge of seven percent in GDP this year--the Chavistas will change their face, but won't lose power.
Maduro's disgrace is all too evident. The opinion surveys of Datanalisis show that, in November, he got an approval rating of barely 24 percent, which makes him one of the least liked leaders in the hemisphere. The future doesn't look any better for him if the repeated refusals of "friendly" countries to help Caracas financially, without heroic conditions, are maintained.
Still, this doesn't mean the opposition will have an easy time winning the parliamentary elections at the end of the year, or that conditions are ripe for Venezuela's rudder to change hands.
Many people think that, in the new circumstances, Chavism will intensify its measures against the opposition. As the Brookings researcher, Vanda Felbab-Brown said, this won't be anything new. The same thing has happened in Burma and many other countries where it's been pretty well proven that economic crises don't topple these types of governments.
Who will take Maduro's place? It's hard to say, mainly because, as Harold Trinkunas, also of Brookings, explained, with the...