In our annual forecast, Stratfor said that the risk of political unrest in Venezuela will increase this year. And as the economic situation continued to deteriorate in the country, we noted in our third quarter forecast that there was a higher possibility of a coup. Though there are many unknowns surrounding the Aug. 4 supposed drone attack aimed at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, there is no doubt that the event serves as a signpost along the path to even more unrest.
On Aug. 5, Venezuela opposition parties A New Era and Justice First asked for an independent investigation in order to clarify the details of the Aug. 4 explosion near a military event in Caracas where President Nicolas Maduro was giving a speech. The Venezuelan government said on Aug. 4 that the disturbance was caused by drones carrying C4 explosives that were detonated close to Maduro's location.
Then, on Aug. 5, the government stated that it had arrested six people who were involved in the attack. One of the people arrested supposedly participated in protests against the government in 2014. An anonymous group called Soldados de Franelas, which the group says is made of military members and civilians, claimed responsibility for the attack.
After the Aug. 4 incident, the government cancelled the military event and evacuated Maduro and the participating members of the military. Maduro accused outgoing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, the United States and the Venezuelan opposition all of being behind an assassination attempt against him. However, there have been inconsistencies in the government's reports. For example, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that there were two drones, while Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez reported there were three. Meanwhile, people living in the building where a drone was supposedly detonated said that the time of the detonation was earlier than the time claimed by the government.
Why It Matters
The incident exposed Maduro's vulnerability within his country's deteriorating economic and political environment. Venezuela is in crisis as its economy crumbles and its politicians engage in ever more powerful crackdowns to contain unrest. The possible drone attack is yet another sign of the spiraling situation.
Millions of Venezuelans have left their country in the last couple of years, causing larger regional struggles as neighboring countries such as Colombia and Brazil try to accommodate the influx of immigrants.
What to Watch Next
This type of event may spur other groups and people to stage attacks against the government. It will be important to pay particular attention to signs of growing dissent within Venezuela's security forces, since the military has been President Maduro's main pillar of support as he strives to remain in power. Last year there were two attacks, one against a Venezuelan military base and one on the country's Supreme Court building, that were conducted by civilians and dissidents within the military.
Venezuela's economic situation will continue to deteriorate; inflation is expected to reach 1 million percent this year and oil production has dropped by half in the last few years. There is no sign that this situation will improve, so dissatisfaction with the government will likely increase. The Venezuelan government will likely increase its crackdown against members of the opposition as well as dissidents within its security forces.