The power struggle in Venezuela is being fought with all severity. But more than a clear winner, the country needs a republican culture of compromise for a bright future, says Martin Gak. 

The history of Venezuela is marked by deep divisions. A nation that was periodically broken by violence, poverty and political denial. All this did not start against many a current presentation not only with Nicolás Maduro. Chavism is not the only reason for the hopelessness of millions of Venezuelans, but also one of its symptoms. As it turns out, chavism was not a good answer – but it was the answer that most of the Venezuelan population had given over two decades.
The American and Russian spirits have been hunting Latin American politics for a long time. Russia and the US are not just the names of two political models, they are always extremes: either the good or evil par excellence – depending on who you ask. The fact that both countries are so clearly positioned in the crisis has further deepened the division in Venezuela. Government and opposition see themselves as fighters for the survival of the nation and claim the moral right for themselves. Of course, because only when it comes to everything, everything is allowed.

Polarization as a problem

But politics is never for eternity – victory and defeat are always fleeting. Any impartial observer will see immediately that this age-old polarization has led to an endless cycle of violent pendulum swings that resemble a wrecking ball in their effect. Now this fight is being fought once again on the streets of Venezuela , and once again governments, politicians and foreign media are resolutely taking sides .


Gak Martin Comment Image App

DW editor Martin Gak


Of course only one side can win this political battle, but victory or defeat will last only a limited time. And no matter if Maduro is in power or Guaidó gets it – the other half of the country will still be there, clinging to its deep political dislike of the government.

The region does not have a tradition of compromise and that is why Venezuela will reiterate what the country has experienced so often: the Chavist base will not stop looking at Guaidó as a coup, while the other side will see Maduro as a dictator. And there are good arguments for both views.

Compromises as a sign of political maturity

What Venezuela needs in this situation is obvious: Of course, the economic situation has to be improved quickly, above all. But it also needs a response to the crisis of the republican order, which reconciles the people in the long term. It would be best, therefore, to negotiate a governance of the transition similar to that of a broad coalition. It would have to be composed of moderate members of government and representatives of the opposition who are capable of dialogue and negotiation. With profound differences of opinion about the history of the nation and its future, Venezuela needs a political class that sees compromises not as a failure but as a sign of political maturity.
All this requires painful concessions from both sides – including the resignation of Maduro, but also of Guaidó. Not only does Venezuela have to say goodbye to chavism, it also needs a genuinely republican order. Sole power for the winners and silent obedience of the losers is a formula that has been practiced often enough. The future president of a Republican Venezuela must be an honest representative of the entire people and not just the winner of the election but also – and perhaps more importantly – the loser.


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