Shadow foreign policy

Over at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, I discuss the opposition’s new diplomatic offensive. The value added:

These trips are part of a new phase for the Venezuelan opposition. For the first time, they are embarking on a serious diplomatic offensive. The opposition believes that international pressure is the only thing the government will respond to, since dissenting Venezuelans clearly don’t count. Some experts believe that international pressure sometimes served as an influence on President Hugo Chávez. For example, during the 2000s, there was a widely held view in U.S. foreign policy circles that Brazil’s former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was a moderating factor in Venezuela, someone to whom Chávez listened.

More recently, after ignoring requests for an audit of this year’s election, the Maduro government originally changed its mind under pressure from South American governments represented by the umbrella group UNASUR (though it has since gone back on its word). The opposition thinks the only thing the Venezuelan rulers seem to fear is international pressure, particularly from Latin American governments, and they hope their lobbying will prompt the Maduro government into thoroughly auditing the election.

As the battle over Venezuela moves to the international arena, one is left wondering what other options the opposition is left with. As much as foreign opinion may count, the fight to topple a president many view as illegitimate is going to require oppositionists hitting the streets of their own country in protest.