These are the highlights of our Political Risk Report (PRR) published on Friday, April 17nd:
- Readers of political history and observers of authoritarian regimes know that it’s normal to see a constant change of faces and names within those structures—where intense inner competition is an essential part of the power dynamics. This will come to mind when reading the PRR’s section regarding the ascension of Admiral Remigio Ceballos Ichaso to a key position that, until recently, was considered to be exclusive for General Vladimir Padrino López. Ceballos Ichaso has become the focus of internal surveillance operations.
- The Guaidó administration has secured government funds abroad that will be used to help health professionals in Venezuela. The beneficiaries of this “health bonus” and the manner in which it will be transferred has caused tensions between key players in the G4. While some say the benefit should be extended to poor families, Guaidó believes they must focus on doctors, nurses, and other health personnel. Some groups inside the opposition are trying to broker meetings with Maduro & Co.
With more time as Defense Minister than anyone in modern Venezuela, General Padrino was supposed to be the center of the military coalition that supports Maduro, the career soldier who enjoyed a unique leadership amid all the weakened components of the Bolivarian Armed Forces, and who until some extent filled the void left by the death of Hugo Chávez, himself a soldier, and not the civilian heir in the Presidency. Padrino managed to stay in that position, even when he may have been involved in the failed attempt to remove Maduro at the end of April 2019, and continued to support the regime to the point of being targeted in the new list of wanted Venezuelans by the U.S. Department of Justice. However, it seems now that if Padrino isn’t willing to move against Maduro, the Commander of the Strategic Operational Command, Admiral Ceballos, should be the target of anyone who’s looking for regime change in Venezuela, and we’re seeing around him the same tense equilibrium that we described around Padrino last year: Maduro might not be happy with one man in uniform holding so much power over his future, but removing him might be the riskier move.
To read the entire Political Risk Report subscribe here. The PRR is a weekly, in-depth, forward-looking assessment of the state of political conflict in Venezuela, written by researchers in Caracas working with information gathered through an extensive network of contacts both inside the government and the opposition.