Key Chavistas Abandon Maduro as Crisis Intensifies

By Andrew Rosati and Fabiola Zerpa

Days of Disorder


March 29

Supreme court seizes powers of Congress—the only opposition- controlled institution—declaring the elected body invalid.

March 31

Luisa Ortega Díaz breaks ranks, saying supreme court decision “ruptured” constitutional order.


April 1

Supreme court reverses much of its decision to strip power from opposition-led Congress.

April 19

More than a million Venezuelans pack the streets of Caracas and other major cities in the “mother of all marches.”

April 26

Venezuela announces plans to pull out of the Organization of American States amid growing international condemnation.


April 30

Pope Francis speaks out against increasing unrest, calling for negotiated solution to end violence.

May 1

Maduro convenes constituent assembly to rewrite 1999 constitution, considered a hallmark of Chávez’s legacy.


May 18

Treasury Department slaps sanctions on members of Venezuela’s top court for “making a mockery” of separation of powers.


May 24

Ortega Diáz rails against authorities’ use of lethal force.

June 13

Some 70 lives have been lost as protests grow increasingly violent and volatile.


July 30

Voting to begin for representatives to rewrite the constitution.


Friends of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro are peeling away. As the nation's chaos grinds on, former allies are joining a mounting chorus of dissent, a wave of defections unprecedented since the 1999 dawn of the nation's socialist era. Many of the disenchanted are actively working to foil Maduro’s efforts, making his hold on power all the more tenuous.

For almost three months, the nation has been rocked by unrest that shows no signs of ebbing. Sputtering demonstrations against government overreach quickly became a nationwide movement against the country's dire state, with inflation in triple digits and crime and corruption rampant. Dozens have been killed and thousands more injured or jailed.

Yet rather than yield to mounting pressure to hold elections, Maduro has called for a constituent assembly that would rewrite the constitution—considered one of the greatest legacies of the late Hugo Chávez—stoking fears that the embattled president seeks do away with elections entirely. Ruling socialists have endured previous waves of criticism, broken ranks—even coup attempts—since Chávez rose to power almost two decades ago. But never in recent memory has a president been so unpopular and the state of the country so grim.

As Venezuela faces its fate, Maduro's coalition is showing cracks.