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De Bruin Writes Washington Post Essay on Coups


 Erica De Bruin
Erica De Bruin

The Washington Post published Assistant Professor of Government Erica De Bruin’s essay analyzing the current political situation in Venezuela. The May 2 op-ed titled “Trump wants Venezuela’s military to remove its president. But Maduro has made that difficult” addressed the question, “Will Venezuela’s overlapping forces remain loyal?”

According to De Bruin, although Juan Guaidó, president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has called upon the military to join him in the effort to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power, Maduro has largely retained the support of the armed forces. She attributes this state of affairs to the fact that “Both Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, created new paramilitary and militia units to hedge against defection from the regular military.” She describes this “coup-proofing strategy,” referred to by scholars as “counterbalancing,” and points to other countries in which the strategy has been effective.

In an April 30 article that appeared in Quartz titled “Why it’s so hard to tell if we are seeing a coup in Venezuela,” De Bruin offers a definition of a coup. When asked “so, is Venezuela seeing a coup?” De Bruin says, “Yes, if only an attempted one, at this point. ‘It is the threat or use of force that distinguishes coups from voluntary resignations and other peaceful transfers of power.’”

On May 3 De Bruin appeared online on Penn State University’s Peace Science Society’s  40th Peace Science Colloquium discussing her paper,  “From Civil Wars to Coups d’état: How Peace Agreements Shape Post-Conflict Violence.” 

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