Will Guaidó Call for U.S. Military Intervention?

Venezuela’s Debate Over Article 187(11)

Venezuelan opposition leader and interim President Juan Guaidó at a rally in Cabimas, Venezuela, April 2019 Isaac Urrutia / Reuters

The Venezuelan political crisis has reached a familiar stalemate. In the two and a half months since it began, National Assembly president Juan Guaidó’s challenge to President Nicolás Maduro’s legitimacy has lost its momentum, stymied by the same mechanisms that have foiled opposition efforts in the past. On April 1, the government-controlled Constituent Assembly, acting on the instructions of the Supreme Court, stripped Guaidó of his parliamentary immunity, removing a legal barrier to his arrest. And the Venezuelan armed forces—the central pillar upon which government power rests—have remained loyal to Maduro throughout Guaidó’s challenge.

But there is still uncharted terrain into which the crisis could spiral. Increased international attention on Venezuela—particularly from the United States—has moved the threat of a military intervention to remove Maduro from power past the point of idle talk. Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton, have asserted that “all options” remain on the table, a turn of phrase familiar from previous administrations in the run-up to military interventions.  

In the case of Venezuela, the loudest calls for intervention are coming not from the White House and its media mouthpieces but from some members of the Venezuelan opposition and from residents of the country desperate for a solution—any solution—to their years-long plight. For many, that solution lies in the country’s constitution: article 187(11) grants the opposition-controlled legislature, the National Assembly, the power to authorize foreign military missions in the country. First launched into the sphere of public debate by a fringe parliamentary bloc just over a month ago, talk of invoking article 187(11) has become commonplace in the country.


Article 187 of the Venezuelan constitution sets out the powers of the National Assembly. Section 11 of the article grants the legislature the power to authorize not only Venezuelan military missions abroad but also foreign military missions inside the country.  

The article rose to prominence in the Venezuelan lexicon following the highly publicized

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