The political turmoil in Venezuela continues to intensify.
On Tuesday, officials loyal to President Nicolas Maduro stripped opposition leader Juan Guaidó of immunity – which means he could face prosecution and arrest.
In January, Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s interim president. More than 50 countries, including the United States, have recognized him as president.
Guaidó’s wife Fabiana Rosales also visited Florida this week. She addressed the country’s ongoing humanitarian crisis.
“Today Venezuelans live in danger,” she said in Spanish, alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “Today the life of the president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, is in danger.”
On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson got the latest news from WLRN’s Americas correspondent Tim Padgett.
Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:
WLRN: What is the latest on the relations and the pressure that the United States is trying to continue to apply in Venezuela?
PADGETT: The Senate is now debating whether to send almost a half a billion dollars down to Venezuela in desperately needed humanitarian aid.
Which represents twice what some of the Florida delegation had been talking – about $200 million. Now up to $400 million. Where did that increase come from?
I think in the past couple of weeks you have seen the situation get more dire in Venezuela with these epic power outages and water shortages. You have people going through power outages, not for hours, but for days. And not just in Caracas, all over the country. It is wreaking havoc on their lives. And the water shortages. You have people out on the streets looking for any source of potable water that they can find. And this is really upping the stakes of this humanitarian crisis. I think that's one of the reasons we're seeing more intense aid from the Senate being debated.
Meantime, the pressure even from the Maduro regime inside Venezuela is obviously increasing and intensifying on Guaidó and his inner circle. It's touched his inner circle. There have been folks within that circle that have been detained if not arrested.
More suspicion even today on this Friday as we're talking about Maduro potentially moving against Guaidó, as we expect street protests this weekend.
This all has to do with what I was just talking about, the power and water outages. Maduro and the regime are getting really spooked by the public outcry over this. As a result, they're getting more spooked by Guaidó's influence over the public.
A month ago, I was saying on this show that I didn't think the regime at least in the short term would move to arrest Guaidó because of the international pressure that would throw down. Unfortunately the short term has gotten a lot shorter because of this power and water disaster.
And so they're getting very panicked in the regime and that's making it unfortunately more likely that he could be arrested because of his influence over people there. And as you just mentioned, because he's also calling for even more massive marches to protest the regime this weekend.
What's the scale that those marches could be? Have we seen it before?
Yes, I think we have seen before. But it won't be so much the size that will really panic the regime. It will be the anger. The anger volume could be turned up because the suffering has been turned up there.
In the meantime, international pressure, is that continuing to build within the hemisphere as well?
Yes and no. We're seeing countries like the Lima Group, this congregation of Latin American countries, that have unusually banded together to pressure Maduro. We're not really seeing them coming out as vocally as they were, say a month to two months ago, and I think that's beginning to worry Washington.
What's behind that reticence?
A lot of it unfortunately has to do with the Trump administration itself. It has been so vocal in terms of threats of things like military intervention. That is causing a lot of the Latin American governments to back off.