The Trump administration’s relentless economic and political pressure on Venezuela government over the past two years is rattling Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Despite his braggadocio – putting on a brave face – Maduro is feeling the pressure. He is extremely worried that Trump will take or engineer some form of military action to remove him from power. Trump’s bellicose rhetoric and the constant pressure being put on governments in the hemisphere by U.S. government officials increase Maduro’s isolation. In light of U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation, the prospects of military action against Venezuela are now more likely than ever. Considered to be the only remaining constraint on Trump’s reckless use of military force, Mattis leaves a void and his role in the Trump administration is not expected to be replicated by his eventual replacement.
In addition to the external economic implications of Venezuela’s problems, additional impact is felt more broadly in the region. Venezuela’s problems are not contained within the country’s borders. Neighboring countries are particularly impacted by a stream of refugees which are creating humanitarian burdens for these governments. Anti-Venezuelan immigrant sentiments are bubbling up to a boiling point in neighboring countries, and support for Maduro’s regime has all but disappeared. If the current trend continues unabated, the problems will get worse for Maduro.