The Americas

Why is Venezuela's Maduro treating President Trump with kid gloves?

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela February 14, 2017.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela February 14, 2017.  (Reuters)

Even though United States continues to be Chavismo's favorite enemy, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is treating Trump’s White House with kid gloves — not even responding to some pretty mighty jabs.

When back in January the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned his handpicked vice president Tareck El Aissami for ties with drug trafficking, Maduro pledged to Trump "that he not perpetuate the errors of the old administration."

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Two days later, a second punch came via Twitter when the U.S. president received Lilian Tintori, the wife of Maduro’s top opponent, in the White House and demanded his “immediate release.”

Then too Maduro pulled his punches and provided advice: “Mr. Trump, open your eyes,” he said. “Don’t let yourself be manipulated and led to failed regime change policies against Venezuela.”

Three months into the new administration, many in the opposition are saying Maduro’s acquiescence responds to one thing only: fear.

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Political analyst Jesus Seguias said it would seem the Venezuelan president is trying to prevent a radicalization in U.S.’s policy toward the troubled nation.

“A radicalization could mean Trump directly promoting the request of the Organization of American States (OAS) to implement the Inter-American Democratic Charter [or else be suspended from the bloc],” Seguias said.

“It may also involve other sanctions against public officials or a sudden cut in the purchase of Venezuelan oil,” he added.

"Maduro wants [Trump] to keep a moderate and pragmatic position. An indifferent or neutral position of the United States over Venezuela benefits Maduro and harms the opposition,” he told Fox News.

According to the analyst, Maduro is also attempting to neutralize Trump through his ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, "mainly because of the assumption that Trump is going to get along very well with Putin during his presidency."

Venezuela is undergoing an acute economic crisis characterized by a severe shortage of food and medicines and an inflation that could reach 1,660 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Mariano de Alba, an international relations expert said that Maduro seems to be moving with extra caution given Trump’s unpredictability.

Maduro has chosen not to attack him personally, he said, to preserve the possibility that both governments reach some type of agreement in the medium term.

"Maduro acts from the recognition that just as Trump could take a picture with Tintori, he could take it with him if he considers at a certain time that it suits him. Part of the basis is that there’s no particular Venezuela policy coming from the new U.S. government.”

Alex Vasquez is a freelance reporter living in Caracas, Venezuela.