Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will be removed from power or step down on his own accord within a year, said US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams.
Abrams does not think the Venezuelan conflict has the potential to drag on or to transition to an active phase as happened in Syria. He also stressed that Washington was initially not expecting a rapid change of government in Venezuela, and is now waiting for the situation to unfold.
“I highly doubt it [that Maduro will remain in power for long]. I doubt very much that in one year’s time we will be talking about this. Either Maduro will decide that his time has come, or the army will decide that it’s time for them to remove him from power,” Abrams said in a press conference broadcast on CNN.
The diplomat said that the conflict in Venezuela will not develop along the same lines as the Syrian conflict. “One of the factors that is concerning in the case of Syria, but not in the case of Venezuela, is the presence of thousands and thousands of foreign troops. In Syria there are thousands of Hezbollah and Iranian troops. In Venezuela you don’t see this,” Abrams observed, adding that without external intervention, an active conflict need not be expected.
The special envoy stressed that no one expected a rapid change of regime in Venezuela. “It will happen when the pressure [within the country] reaches a certain level,” he concluded.
On 23 January 2019, Juan Guiado, Chairman of the National Assembly of Venezuela, declared himself interim president during a rally in Caracas. His claims have been recognized by the US and numerous European countries.