A Coup in Venezuela? That Word Is Best Avoided in This Situation

(Bloomberg) -- As Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s National Assembly leader, calls soldiers and civilians to the streets today to back his push to take control of the country, the word coup is being tossed around freely.

But it’s a tricky one to use in a case like this. Look it up online and the most prominent definition that pops up is this, courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries: “a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.”

A Coup in Venezuela? That Word Is Best Avoided in This Situation

It’s the “illegal” part of the definition that’s problematic. More than 50 countries recognize Guaido, and not the autocrat Nicolas Maduro, as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. As a result, today’s actions can be viewed simply as an attempt to hand the reins of the country to that leader and, in the process, restore democracy. Maduro and his allies, of course, disagree with this characterization.

Bloomberg News has decided against using the term and opted instead for more neutral, albeit imperfect, words such as “uprising.”

(David Papadopoulos is a senior editor who oversees Bloomberg News’s coverage of the Venezuelan crisis.)

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