Venezuela - coup d'état?

Here's the OPEC market report for December 2019. Tables 6 - 9 and 5 - 10 show a slight up-tick in production for December, but production overall is still well down on the beginning of the year. It is conceivable that there may be more production which is going unreported to preserve customer confidentiality, but that is just speculation.
 
And while we're at it, here's a report from the CBC.
With Guaido blocked from parliament, rival named as new leader in Venezuela

A new leader of parliament, Luis Parra, was elected on Sunday. Guaido was blocked from entering parliament.
Venezuela's parliament on Sunday swore in legislator Luis Parra as its new leader after government security forces blocked opposition leader Juan Guaido from entering parliament, in what Guaido's allies called a "parliamentary coup."
Guaido's claim to be the new president was based on being the leader of the National Assembly and declaring Maduro's election in 2018 as being invalid. Parra's election in Guaido's place puts an additional barrier in between Guaido and the presidency.
Guaido's claim to the interim presidency rested on his position as president of the opposition-held National Assembly. He argued that Maduro's 2018 re-election was fraudulent, meaning the presidency was vacant and that the constitution dictated the head of parliament should take charge temporarily.
Support for Guaido has declined, and some opposition parties have split off to create their own grouping to negotiate with Marduro. They say that Guaido has stuck with a plan that has failed and that it is time to try negotiating. Average Venezuelans have tuned out of politics as they have bigger problems to deal with.
Support for Guaido inside the opposition has taken a hit after several minority parties in November splintered off to create a separate bloc to negotiate directly with Maduro — an approach that Guaido has refused, arguing that talks are simply a time-buying exercise aimed at keeping Maduro in power.

Reflecting those divisions, a small group of opposition lawmakers had proposed an alternative slate to take over leadership responsibilities from Guaido. They argued that, even in the face of defeat, Guaido has stubbornly stuck to his plan of removing Maduro, putting his political ambitions above the needs of Venezuelans who have largely tuned out from the political fight while enduring an economy in shambles under stiff U.S. sanctions.
Apparently there will be National Assembly elections later this year, at which time Maduro hopes to win back control of the assembly.
Maduro, who took over after the 2013 death of former President Hugo Chavez, had called Guaido is "a puppet of the United States." Maduro said he was determined to win control of the National Assembly in elections later this year.

"Despite perversions of the imperialist United States against Venezuela during 2019, we've managed to hold onto our independence, peace and stability," Maduro tweeted. "I know that in 2020, with all of our efforts we will enjoy more economic prosperity."
From that bit about the elections, it looks like this is where the drama in Venezuela will be focused on this year.
 
Despite stopping opposition members from entering Parliament, thereby electing Parra, it would appear 100 of 167 members voted for Guaido at a session held in the HQ of a pro-opposition newspaper:
Opposition legislators quickly re-elected Guaido - who is recognised by dozens of nations as Venezuela’s rightful leader - in a session at the headquarters of a pro-opposition newspaper.
Guaido seems positive, albeit the opposition has lost support in the past few months;
“Today the dictatorship has committed another blunder,” Guaido said after taking the oath of office at the offices of El Nacional newspaper. “Today we once again soundly defeated the plans of the dictatorship.”

The opposition’s tally showed 100 of parliament’s 167 legislators voted in his favour.
One wonders how long Maduro would last and the benefits to the Venezuelan people if he were no longer supported by the PRC, Russia and Cuba:
Guaido last year led a groundswell movement to push Maduro from power, denouncing his 2018 re-election as a fraud and assuming a parallel presidency that quickly won the recognition of most Western and Latin American nations.

But Maduro has clung to power, thanks to continued support from the military and the backing of China, Cuba and Russia. He has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet.
It also appears that the vote for Parra was not entirely in accordance with the regulations:
Socialist Party legislators, in the absence of Guaido and other legislators, took control of the session and nominated Parra as the new Congress chief.

Following a melee on the floor of parliament, an impromptu vote was held through a show of hands but without counting each individual vote, as required by its regulations, according to a Reuters witness.
Maduro seems happy with Parra being elected. He (Parra) was expelled from the opposition party 'First Justice' due to 'allegedly helping burnish the reputation of a businessman associated with Maduro’s govt'
“Mike Pompeo and Elliott Abrams should explain to Donald Trump why they lost the leadership of the National Assembly, one more failure by the gringos in Venezuela,” Maduro said, referring to the Secretary of State and the U.S. special representative for Venezuela.
Bottom line, all seems to be the same for Maduro and the opposition are split even more.
 
Luis Parra, the new leader of Venezuela's Nation Assembly says that 150 out of 167 MPs were present at the vote which elected him, and that 81 voted in his favour, including 30 opposition members. The figures given appear to be round numbers, as the vote was by show of hands.
Venezuela's new would-be congress leader shrugs off accusations
Parra, a previously unknown backbencher mired in accusations of bribe-taking, said the 150 lawmakers in attendance more than satisfied the quorum requirements in the 167-seat legislature. He said 81 of those present voted for him, including 30 members of the opposition, in a stunning rebuke of Guaido, who had expected to easily win re-election.
Meanwhile 100 MPs attended a rival session at the offices of a newspaper where the vote was in favour of Guaido. It's not clear from the news story how many of the 100 (which also looks suspiciously like a round number) voted for Guaido.
But in rambling comments to journalists who challenged his every assertion, Parra acknowledged he didn't know who exactly had voted for him during the chaotic session, in which a handful of socialist lawmakers stormed the dais in a rushed show of hands. Nor could he square the apparent results with the 100 lawmakers who elected Guaido in a roll call vote held later in the day at an emergency session at a Caracas newspaper.

"We're seeking the list," he said, insisting the tally would be provided in the coming hours.
Parra held a press conference in which he criticised both Maduro and Guaido. He blamed Maduro for the collapse of the economy, and also blamed Guaido for putting his personal political ambitions ahead of the interests of the country. I'm going to take a guess that Parra plans to try to establish himself a position as being independent of either of two sides while not directly challenging Maduro's government.
Parra, in a press conference from the floor of the legislature, tried to project an image of independence, saying he never had been nor would ever be a Chavista — as supporters of the late leader Hugo Chavez are known. But while blasting Maduro for the oil-rich nation's collapse, he also took repeated aim at Guaido, saying he had put his own political ambitions ahead of Venezuelans' urgent needs.

"The two extremes aren't good for the country," he said.
He said he would deal with Venezuela's economic problems, but there were no details in the news story.
As the head of congress, he said he would focus on practical initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for Venezuelans beset by hyperinflation, power outages and widespread food and medicine shortages.
An analyst from the International Crisis Group said that while Guaido may have support from foreign governments, he does not have control of parliament or the backing of protestors and so now has little bargaining power.
While Guaido enjoys the full support of the U.S., and even leftist governments like Argentina and Mexico condemned the government's actions, there's no indication Maduro's grip on power — especially the armed forces — is weakening. Nor do analysts expect mass protests like the ones that a year ago accompanied Guaido's bold challenge to Maduro to resume anytime soon.

"Without protests or control of parliament, Guaido has little bargaining power," said Phil Gunson, a Caracas-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Regardless of who thinks he's in charge, the essential problems remain the same. There can be no economic recovery while price controls combined with inflation remain in place, and none of the would be leaders has offered any viable plan for dealing with this.
 
Parra has been nominated as ‘Parliament chief’ by Maduro’s govt:
President Nicolas Maduro’s government announced Sunday that Luis Parra, who was expelled from the First Justice opposition party in late 2019 due to corruption allegations that he has denied, was now parliament chief.
Guaido and some of his supporters were denied entry to the Parliament by troops with riot shields during the ’election’:
He was installed after troops with riot shields blocked opposition leader Juan Guaido from entering parliament for what was expected to be his re-election as head of congress.
Parra’s first job is to appoint a new electoral council. He also states he is an opponent of Maduro and wants to end the ‘politics of polarisation’:
Parra, who has said he is still an opponent of Maduro, told reporters the first step toward ending the South American country’s “politics of polarization” was to appoint a new electoral council. The current council is made up of five main directors and three alternates, some of whom have been dismissed by opposition leaders as biased in Maduro’s favor.
Parra doesn’t say who will be in this council, nor how he will manage the first session on Tuesday that Guaido will also attend, if he is allowed access of course. Guaido has said he will try to preside over the proceedings:
He did not provide details about when the new electoral authorities could be named. He also did not provide details about how he planned to manage the first legislative session on Tuesday. Guaido has pledged to attend the session and said he will attempt to preside over the proceedings.
Guaido knows he is heading for a possible confrontation, but seems confident:
“Risking our skin? Well, of course,” Guaido told reporters on Monday, referring to possible confrontations at the upcoming session.
Moscow supports the ‘election’ of Parra which Guaido calls interfering:
Russia, one of Maduro’s key international backers, said the election of a new parliament leader in Venezuela was the result of democratic procedure.

Guaido said Moscow was “interfering in our affairs.”
 
A bit more in addition to the above about the rise of Parra. According to this article its similar tactics that used by Maduro in the last election, by using state institutions and creating 'pseudo opposition'. In 2018 he prevented opposition parties from running apart from Henri Falcon, which effectively blocked the opposition's boycott of the vote:
Parra’s rise reflects Maduro’s frequent tactic of using state institutions to sideline adversaries and then designating politicians of ambiguous allegiance as true opposition leaders - a group Maduro’s critics describe as “pseudo-opposition.”

Many denounced the divide-and-conquer strategy in the 2018 presidential vote, when authorities blocked Venezuela’s main opposition leaders from running but allowed the candidacy of Henri Falcon, who described himself as a Maduro adversary despite breaking the opposition’s boycott of the vote.
Maduro seems pleased with Parra's 'election':
“We could tell a change was coming in the National Assembly, a rebellion within the opposition legislators,” Maduro said.
There's also some doubt still on the actual names who voted for Parra. Initially 86, then reduced to 81, a full list of those who voted normally released on the same day has reportedly still not been provided, nor has a timescale been given:
He initially said he had received 86 votes, but later cut this number down to 81. The legislature has 167 seats.

When asked by reporters for the full list of the legislators who voted for his leadership, Parra said the official tally - which is typically released the same day - was not available. He has declined to provide a time frame for when it will be released.
Guaido has apparently provided the 100 names who voted for him:
On Sunday evening, Guaido held a rival vote that was broadcast over the internet in which 100 legislators identified by name backed him for re-election.
E2A: Venezuelan security forces block Guaido from entering congressional palace
Guaido refused entry to Parliament:
Venezuelan security forces on Tuesday blocked legislative chief Juan Guaido from entering the congressional palace, after a confused melee on Sunday allowed the ruling Socialist Party to install new parliamentary leadership.
Maduro's socialist party approved candidate will run with his new electoral council to 'preside over free and fair elections'. He'll also debate proposals to tackle the shortages of petrol and increase workers salaries. He will also apparently look at the freedom of political prisoners:
Parra said on Monday his priority was to set up a new electoral council to preside over free and fair elections.

Tuesday’s session, he said, would debate proposals to tackle widespread shortages of gasoline, the freedom of political prisoners, and increases to workers’ salaries. The session began around 10 a.m. local time (1400 GMT)
 
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Guaido and a group of allies marched into the National Assembly today, and engaged in a shouting match with Parra and his allies over who was the real leader of the assembly. Not much of substance appears to have resulted from this at the time of posting.
Venezuela's opposition leader Guaido enters legislative palace after troops allow him to pass

Juan Guaido, Venezuela's opposition leader and National Assembly president, and a group of allied lawmakers entered the legislative palace on Tuesday following a half-hour standoff with security forces who were blocking the entrance.

Guaido had pledged to attempt to preside over Tuesday's session. Local television images showed him arguing with troops blocking the entrance to the legislative building before being let in.

Allies of President Nicolas Maduro swore in Luis Parra as parliament chief on Sunday, seizing the one major state institution outside Maduro's control.

Parra, who was elected to congress in 2015, had been expelled from the First Justice opposition party in late 2019 due to corruption allegations, which he has denied.

Local television images on Tuesday morning showed Parra and his allies seated in the leadership posts within the congressional chamber, while a handful of lawmakers allied to Guaido within the chamber screamed at him and referred to the situation as a "coup."
 
Time works for pres.Maduro. The last parliamentary elections took place December 2015. So at the end of this year the legislators will become just private citizens.
We know that
There 167 PMs in Venezuela
It is claimed that Maduro's creature Parra got 81 votes and
mr.Guaido claims that he got 100 votes.
So 14 MPs voted for both candidates that complicates the situation.
Guaido considers Parra a weak opposition figure. He was kicked out of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, a coalition of parties opposed to PSUV. Guaido and allies called Parra’s victory a “coup.”
The following note, I think, describes political landscape in Venezuela in the best way.
Note: Every day there is a new coup in Venezuela, according to just about every Venezuelan politician.
 
Time works for pres.Maduro. The last parliamentary elections took place December 2015. So at the end of this year the legislators will become just private citizens. (...)
As I noted in this previous post, Maduro hopes to win control of the National Assembly during the elections later this year.
Maduro, who took over after the 2013 death of former President Hugo Chavez, had called Guaido is "a puppet of the United States." Maduro said he was determined to win control of the National Assembly in elections later this year.
It's not hard to predict however that the parties centred around Guaido will not accept any result which does not return them with a majority. The official vote tally will very likely show Maduro's supporters with a majority while Guaido's supporters will declare the result to be fraudulent. It is conceivable that the Guaido supporting parties could win a majority and Maduro gracefully accept the result, but I wouldn't be willing to place any money on that. The stand off will therefore continue, just with different window dressing.

The only thing that will really resolve the situation is for the government, whomever that may be, to address the economic problems (price controls and inflation) without exacerbating the deep social class divisions in Venezuela and so touching off a rebellion, but I have yet to see anyone in Venezuela who would give me any confidence in being able to do that.

If I had to speculate, it would be that there will be no genuine solution to Venezuela's problems for some time to come regardless of who sits in the seat of power there.
 

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