I hesitate to write anything at all about Venezuela. I don’t speak Spanish (beyond dos cervesas por favor).I haven’t lived there. I have no inside informants.
In trying to sort out the confusion, I turn to an unlikely source – Franciscan priest Fr. Richard Rohr. Rohr’s speciality is religion, not international politics. But I have found his process for understanding Bible stories helpful in deciphering complex secular issues.
A story needs four levels of analysis, Rohr argues.
There is, first, the literal level. No interpretation, “just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday used to say.
In Venezuela’s case, the literal level is complex enough. President Nicolas Maduro, who succeeded former President Hugo Chavez, got re-elected in what many consider a fraudulent election. He consolidated his power by creating a constituent assembly, made up of his supporters, to replace the existing National Assembly, which is controlled by his opposition. In the absence of what it considers a legitimately elected president, the National Assembly declared its Speaker, Juan Guaido to be Maduro’s constitutional successor.
By analogy, imagine Donald Trump creating an alternative Congress composed of his fans, while the existing House of Representatives declares Nancy Pelosi to be the rightful president.