Opposition Lawmaker Says Maduro's End Is Near Despite Stalemate

(Bloomberg) -- The political stalemate in Venezuela masks signs that the end of President Nicolas Maduro’s rule is fast approaching, according to a senior opposition figure.

Julio Borges, a former head of the National Assembly living in exile in Colombia since early last year, says political change is closer than many expect. “I don’t see the possibility of Maduro remaining in power by the end of the year,” he said. “Objectively speaking it’s impossible for him to overcome all the internal and external difficulties he’s facing.”

Venezuela’s latest political crisis kicked off in January, when Juan Guaido, Borges’ successor as leader of the National Assembly, proclaimed himself president. While the U.S. and around 50 other nations have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s head of state, his protest movement has stalled in recent weeks as demonstrators struggle with day-to-day survival amid rolling blackouts, arrests of key allies and the military’s continued support for Maduro.

Opposition Lawmaker Says Maduro's End Is Near Despite Stalemate

But Borges, an adviser to Guaido and his ambassador to the Lima Group, argues that U.S. oil sanctions, international pressure and Venezuela’s economic collapse will soon force out the current regime. “Many invisible things are happening,” he said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in New York. “We are starting to see some very clear signs of concrete division or fractures within the political establishment and the armed forces.”

He ruled out the possibility of discussions with the regime over a transition.“Maduro is absolutely closed for negotiations and he is following the Cold War script from Cuba that says they just have to resist to in order to remain in power,” he said.

Elections This Year

In Caracas the National Assembly approved a proposal to change the nation’s electoral authorities and convene general elections within seven to nine months in an effort to keep up the pressure on the autocrat’s socialist regime. But with the legislative body stripped of its power, the move remains largely symbolic.

Borges supports the idea of elections without Maduro.“Free elections mean elections without him in power,” he said. The opposition will be able to organize a vote this year that would enjoy international support, including from some of the current government’s backers, he added. “I’m sure that Russia and China will be willing to join a process in which all interests will be respected.”

The emergence of Guaido and a road map for democratic restoration is still considered as "the most promising route" for political transition in the South American nation, according to a report by the Inter-American Dialogue’s Venezuela Working Group published this month.“At present, however, it appears far from inevitable,” the report noted.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.