Since Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim leader, the world has been split as to whether to support the relatively unknown politician. The feud has risked enhancing tensions between the US and Russia, who have taken opposing sides in the domestic dispute. Donald Trump has thrown his weight behind Mr Guaido, while Putin supports the incumbent Nicolas Maduro.
The split has led to Moscow issuing a stern warning to Washington that military intervention would be a “path to lawlessness and bloodshed”.
Following the fast-moving international feud, former Venezuelan minister Moises Naim said: “There is no doubt that the behaviour of guys with guns will define much of what will happen in the coming days and shape politics in Venezuela.”
Mr Naim said his country was overrun with local and transnational gangs which were “maybe even more lethal and more dangerous” than the military.
He warned they would play a large part in deciding what would happen in the weeks and months ahead.
The military has a central role in Venezuelan politics and for Mr Guaido have a chance of becoming president he would need to secure their backing.
With so much international support for the opposition leader, some political analysts believe the military could switch there alliance away from the incumbent Mr Maduro.
Speaking of the potential of the military swapping their support, Gabriele Saade, a research and project coordinator with La Mejor Venezuela Foro said: “One month ago, I would have said this was not possible.
US President Donald Trump (Image: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“But it feels different this time.
“I think the costs of supporting the government are higher and higher every day.”
However, if gangs spread across the country were to back Mr Maduro for leader, it could cause a civil war to break out throughout the South American country.
Countries from across the globe then risk being drawn into the conflict.
In giving his backing to Mr Guaido, the US president pledged he would use "the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy”.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin (Image: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Trump then went one step further by refusing to rule out military action.
In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “We warn against that.
“We consider that would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model which we see in Latin America.