Juan Guaido, leader of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly, declares himself interim president during a rally in Caracas against President Nicolas Maduro on Jan. 23. U.S. President Donald Trump quickly issued a statement recognizing Guaido as Venezuela's interim leader.
Venezuela is heading toward a chaotic, violent transition of power. The government is fighting a losing battle against declining oil output and its own voracious political elites. Low oil prices, high government spending and extreme corruption destroyed Venezuela's energy sector -- the country's sole source of export revenue. Without vast sums of oil money to line their pockets -- and fund populist social programs -- Venezuela's powerful political leaders have no choice but to compete for what's left of the revenue. And what's left will not be enough to keep all of them happy for long. Irreconcilable differences are fast emerging. Impelled by U.S. sanctions and more intense opposition protests, divisions among the country's rulers are widening. The key questions to ask at this stage are how will members of the Venezuelan government settle their differences -- and when....
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