Geopolitics

And If Venezuela's Maduro Survives?

There is a concerted push underway to remove the Venezuelan leader from power. But there's no guarantee it'll work.

Army generals are keeping Maduro afloat
Marcos Peckel

-Analysis-

BOGOTÁ — A clash of titanic proportions for the control of Venezuela is taking place both out in the open and behind the scenes, between those seeking to topple President Nicolás Maduro and those who want him to remain in office. The struggle involves various local, regional and global actors. And the result could either be the socialist regime's downfall, its survival, a hybrid situation that will prolong the crisis, or negotiations that could lead to free elections.

On one side is a perfect storm to end the Maduro regime: a united opposition around National Assembly speaker Juan Guaidó, people on the streets, and diplomatic isolation promoted by the Lima Group and the United States. On the other is a wall of resilience that the Bolivarian regime has been building for years, precisely in anticipation of a day like this.

What if he keeps winning?

Washington's biggest weapon so far has been to strike at the Venezuelan treasury, blocking the accounts of the state oil firm PDVSA and its subsidiary CITGO in the United States, threatening governments and institutions engaging in financial transactions with Caracas, and sanctioning regime leaders. After that, there is still the option of military intervention, which is a leap into the unknown.

The strategy of economic strangulation has often worked, when it comes to overthrowing regimes. But in the meantime, Russia, Turkey and Cuba have mobilized to counter that measure, and reinforce the key pillar that keeps the regime from collapsing: the army generals. These must be receiving offers from all sides to stay with or abandon Maduro.

While it is impossible to imagine Maduro keeping power to the end of his current term, in 2025, every new day spent in the presidential palace of Miraflores is another little win for him. And what if he keeps winning? What if, with each little victory, he ultimately comes out on top in this power struggle? What would the consequences be?

For Venezuelans, it would mean prolonged impoverishment, misery, shortages, more infant deaths in hospitals, massive emigration and the extended ransacking of the nation's resources by the 21st-century socialists.

January clashes in Caracas — Photo: Rayner Pena/DPA/ZUMA

For the United States, Maduro's continuation would be a significant geopolitical defeat in its backyard, perhaps too costly to contemplate after declarations by Trump administration figures on the regime's certain end.

For Colombia, it would be a calamity. A reinvigorated Maduro will seek revenge against its neighbor and historic rival that has pulled out all the stops to assure his overthrow. He would fortify the rearguard bases provided to the Marxist ELN guerrillas and other criminal groups. He would foment mass migration, perhaps even of undesirable elements, and the long border between Venezuela and Colombia would become the setting of all types of scraps and clashes.

It would be a calamity.

And for Latin America it would mean a step back in the process of democratization that began in the 1990s.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin would show once more, as he did in Syria, that he does not abandon his allies. He allows budding dictators to catch their breath. Indeed, if Maduro holds on, it sends the message that one can still be a despot in the second decade of the 21st century, and not die in the process. Just the thought of it is overwhelming.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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