OK, so there is the situation.
A regime controlled by an army corroded deeply by corruption and narcotic activities whose sole purpose at this point is to keep alive the agonizing Cuban regime, is digging its heels into a repressive mode that is getting worse by the day and that relies increasingly on paramilitary groups to make the killings, least the army officers get finger pointed in international courts someday. They read headlines, you know. Add to this that we are going to run out of food soon.
The question is: can we find a way out without much cost?
The answer is NO. Of course. But that should not stop us from trying.
There are a few possible outcomes based on what has happened in past months. All have some advantages but many problems, though all have a common thread: the Army in the end, narco-controlled and what not, is the one that will decide. Not Maduro, not Cuba, not Capriles, not X.... It is going to be the army at some point that will force the solution. This is a military regime and in Venezuela's political tradition it is the army that "solves" crisis. In 1945 it was the army that allowed AD to reach office. It removed it 3 years alter and allow its return in 1958. It was the army that propped up AD and COPEI through the guerrilla years and the early social unrest. It was the army that accepted that a military felon be sworn in as president. It was the army that took him out for 48 hours in 2002 and put him back. It was the army that allowed him to infiltrate the sate with Cuban agents and drug traffickers. It is up to the army, unfortunately, to find a way out of that mess. I am writing this just to remind the reader that democratic protests may not be enough to effect regime change.
We have one very simple and legal solution. It can be reached through two options: declare Maduro to be Colombian or declare that there was indeed fraud in April 2013. In each case Maduro is forced to resign and due to the novelty of the situation that is not quite contemplated in the constitution we can have a ruling for the high court, TSJ, to violate the Constitution and establish a transitional regime controlled by chavismo and the military, bypassing the mandate that there is a need for an immediate election within weeks of evacuating a presidential chair. After all, the TSJ has violated the constitution so often that this should not be a problem is there is political will.
The advantage is that it is the most "legal" way to effect the regime change, giving chavismo control of the transition, namely time to hide its stolen riches and find secure heaven before surrendering power to whomever, with a broken country as a present. A departure of Maduro could even calm down instantly the opposition in the streets. Further, since the elections of 2013 is voided then there is no need to proclaim Capriles the winner. The inconvenient is that it does not solve anything, that such transition cannot take the necessary economic measure if it wants to have an electoral winner at some point, that the corrupts will have a chance to escape justice, that Cuba may not agree and start some internal guerrilla of its own for which it has proven with the "colectivos" it has the man power for, etc...
Still, this the option with the least trauma though I can tell you that it will come with at the very least significant looting, at least a few dozen more killed, and increased crime, kidnapping and what not until eventually some order starts. Amen of the economic distress.
Other options are kind'a far-fetched. It is indeed possible that the regime decides to truly negotiate something. But for this to be possible the regime need to 1) free all political prisoners, including Lopez, including the exiles to be allowed to return; 2) accept that it loses control of the electoral system and that new elections will be organized by neutral parties with fairer conditions; 3) loose its grip on the judiciary. Without these three measures the opposition has ABSOLUTELY NO REASON to sit down and negotiate and those that would dare to do so will be immediately disowned by the street. In other words, you do not negotiate with a dictatorship unless the intention is to move away from the dictatorship into democracy. It is for the regime to prove itself, not the opposition. Period.
Unfortunately we are not a time where such an exit is possible. As long as the ex chavistas do not stop attending the protest marches in Altamira and instead start organizing their own food riots in Catia the regime is going to keep saying that it has support and the idiots will keep relying that info as truthful. But the time will come.
Otherwise, the only remaining option is that the marches get a sudden surge and that someone inside the regime makes a major faux-pas and then we have a revolution. I let your imagination follow through.
We must thus be afraid that the way out of the crisis is that the regime will try to deepen repression and assume the dictatorship as the norm. It may succeed or not. It all remains in what price the army is willing to pay. And trust me, there are plenty inside that have no qualms in footing a huge bill. The problem is that all indicates that Maduro has decided to go the repression way, because he has no political floor left, because he is an idiot and cannot come up with a better idea, because he is the son of Castro, not the one of Chavez. The question is how many are following him, the more so when bellies start going hungry even if they are devout chavista.