Countercurrents.org | January 25, 2019
- Maduro endorses dialogue call by Mexico, Uruguay
- China and Russia extend support to Maduro
- Regional allies Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua reiterate support Maduro and reject US-led intervention
- Over 70 Experts call for US to stop interfering in Venezuela
On-going imperialist intervention in Venezuela is making situation tense. Imperialism is organizing provocative hostile acts to deteriorate situation in Venezuela. Following update has been prepared based on media reports:
In the face of on-going imperialist intervention and unlawful acts of the United States, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered Thursday the closing of the embassy and consulates of his country in the United States, a day after breaking diplomatic relations with Donald Trump’s government.
Speaking from the Supreme Justice Court (TSJ), Maduro said that the international strategy’s objective is to intervene in Venezuela through a puppet president.
“There’s a great provocation, led by the U.S. empire, happening now in Venezuela. There’s no doubt in the world that it’s President Donald Trump who wants to impose a de facto, unconstitutional government. It’s a coup in Venezuela against the people and democracy,” said Maduro.
The crisis between the two governments escalated this week when the White House backed the swearing in of opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as “interim president” against the constitution and international law. The Venezuelan president also gave the U.S. delegation until Sunday to leave the country.
Following Guaido’s self-swearing in, President Maduro called on the Venezuelan people to defeat what he termed a “coup attempt.”
“They want to break the republic, the nation, they want to declare an unconstitutional president … Their imperial lord Mike Pompeo organized this, it was him who gave the order,” Maduro said speaking of the attempted parliamentary coup against his elected progressive government.
He also explained that problems that the two countries had should have been resolved through diplomacy, without having to interfere in foreign countries issues.
“Imperialism was playing ahead. Since January 2018 it said: We won’t recognize any presidential election called in Venezuela,” he said.
Maduro said to be in favor of the call for dialogue made to the country as a whole by the governments of Uruguay and Mexico. “I can face the worst difficulties because I know I have the strength of the people.”
He also congratulated the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) for their support and recognition to the Bolivarian government
“The military power has spoken and it’s sticking to the Constitution, the homeland and the people. What the opposition right wing did was a false move, improvised, full of manipulation and lies. They can’t deal with the legitimate government,” he said.
Putin’s support to Maduro
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin pledged his support for the elected government of Venezuela during a phone call with President Maduro.
Putin criticized the “destructive external meddling” to which Venezuela has been exposed.
The Russian president has expressed his support to the legitimate authorities of Venezuela in this time of political crisis, which he said was caused by a “destructive external interference that grossly violates the most basic norms of the international law.”
Putin and Maduro also agreed to continue cooperation between the countries “in various fields.”
Russia, China, Iran and NATO-member Turkey condemned US interference in Venezuela’s domestic crisis, however, saying it could further complicate the situation.
France and Britain joined the US-led chorus on Thursday. London claimed that Maduro is “not a legitimate leader” of Venezuela while Paris said that Maduro’s election was “illegal” and “Europe supports the restoration of democracy.”
Venezuela has endured a prolonged period of economic instability and hyperinflation, worsened by the gradually mounting external pressure. Maduro’s opponents blame the crisis on the socialist government, which, for its part, claims that the dissent is deliberately stirred up by the US and other foreign powers.
The US has greatly expanded its economic sanctions against Venezuela. The sanctions, however, have mainly hit the country’s citizens, many analysts argue.
The White House said on Thursday that it was ready to provide more than $20 million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, but Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said the money should go to the “legitimate” Guaido-led government, despite the fact that Guaido was not elected by the Venezuelan people and assumed the role of interim president in what his critics say was an unconstitutional act. Bolton said the Trump administration was focused on cutting Maduro off from all sources of revenue.
Imperialists waging economic war
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino accused the United States of waging “economic war” on his country and warned a coup was underway after the US recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.
In a televised message on Thursday, Padrino insisted that elected president Nicolas Maduro was the only “legitimate” president. “I warn the people that there is a coup underway against our democracy and our president Nicolas Maduro,” he said.
Padrino recalled a failed coup attempt by the Bush administration in 2002, saying, “those of us who lived through the coup of 2002 have it etched into our minds, we never thought we’d see that again, but we saw it yesterday.”
The capital city of Caracas and several other Venezuelan cities saw scenes of violence Wednesday night, with reports of explosions and gunfire in multiple locations.
Clashes took place in the Jose Felix Ribas sector of Petare, the largest popular neighborhood of Caracas, with armed groups taking on different state security organs in close quarters. Local residents reported heavy gunfire and detonations, while a journalist for Colombian NTN24 reported that protesters launched a grenade under a bridge connecting Petare to Palo Verde in eastern Caracas.
There were likewise reports of barricades being set up, and clashes between armed groups and security forces in several neighborhoods of Caracas. Footage circulating on Twitter showed a group of masked youths hijacking and trying to take down a police truck in San Martin, which was later reportedly burned.
Graphic footage also appeared on social media showing a youth killed in the working class neighborhood of San Agustin, also in Caracas. The victim has been identified as 25-year-old Frank Correa, with local witnesses pointing the finger at FAES, the special forces of the Bolivarian National Police.
Clashes between protesters who set up barricades and security forces, who responded with water tanks, lasted into the early hours of Thursday. But it is unclear whether Correa’s death was related to these clashes or not.
Linares argues that there is a concerted effort to generate violence in popular neighborhoods, as opposed to the middle-class areas of Caracas where the “guarimba” protests mostly took place in 2014 and 2017.
The goal is to have these mercenary commando types, backed by the right-wing, generating chaos in popular neighborhoods.
Clashes between authorities and armed groups were also reported in the western Caracas sector of Boqueron in Sucre Parish, with special forces being deployed after police and National Guard personnel were forced to retreat.
Violence was also reported in other parts of the country, with witnesses denouncing attacks against public institutions in Anzoategui and Portuguesa States. In Yaracuy, 18-year-old Daniel Veliz was killed by a gunshot during an opposition protest, but no more details are known at this time.
In the central state of Barinas, local residents reported the murder of 30-year-old Gustavo Ramirez, nephew of former higher education minister Edgardo Ramirez, who was struck by a bullet to the head. Ramirez reportedly was not taking part in any demonstration but walked near an armed confrontation between opposition groups and security forces. Two other people have been reported dead in Barinas as a result of these clashes.
In the western state of Merida, reports emerged that a government supporter was shot dead and burned by masked people following an anti-government march. Witnesses identified the victim as Cohen German, who allegedly had a mental disability. A press conference to offer further details on the investigation has been set for Friday.
Different NGOs have put the number of casualties so far between 14 and 26, but several cases have yet to be confirmed and responsibilities ascertained.
Armed forces stand by Maduro
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez issued a statement Wednesday evening voicing support for President Nicolas Maduro as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
On Thursday morning, the top general gave a press conference, vowing, “The events of 2002 will never be repeated,” referring to the short-lived US-backed coup against former President Hugo Chavez in April 2002.
Padrino went on to reaffirm the National Bolivarian Armed Forces’ commitment to upholding the constitution in opposition to foreign meddling.
A few minutes earlier, the commanders of the eight Integral Strategic Defense Regions (REDI), responsible for the deployment of troops in each region of the country, also hosted a press conference from different locations, declaring “loyalty and absolute subordination” to President Maduro.
Guaido under pressure
On Wednesday evening, high-ranking Chavista figure and President of the National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello revealed on his TV show “Con el mazo dando” that he had held a meeting with Guaido the day before.
“Guaido asked for a meeting yesterday, and I went because I’ll meet with anyone for the peace of this country,” Cabello stated.
Cabello claimed that Guaido had pledged to do one thing but had done the complete opposite and that the opposition lawmaker had sent him a message claiming he was “under pressure” to proclaim himself president. Despite not presenting any evidence, Cabello challenged Guaido to deny the events.
Former U.N. expert: U.S. attempted coup is against international laws
Alfred de Zayas, a former United Nations expert who visited Venezuela in 2017 as a U.N. representative, said that the United States is conducting an illegal coup in the country, which is against international laws.
“It is an attempted coup d’état. Now, we all believe in democracy… Now, there’s nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état, and also boycotting elections,” Zayas commented.
“The mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. … This reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003,” the U.N. expert told Democracy Now.
When Zayas visited Venezuela as a rapporteur, he told the opposition members “you simply cannot topple the government, and Maduro is not simply going to roll over. I mean, there are 7, 8, 9 million Venezuelans who are committed Chavistas, and you have to take them into account. What are you going to do with them if you topple the government through a coup d’état?”
The U.N. expert also took a dig at the mainstream media who through fake news made the people believe that the U.S. intervention in Venezuela is good for the people of the country. He denounced the media campaign against the South American country, which has been termed to have a humanitarian crisis. “And, of course, there was no humanitarian crisis,” said Zayas.
He also compared the current situation with Chile’s Salvador Allende. An economic war was waged against Allende for three years. When the economic war was not successful in ousting Allende, a coup d’état by General Augusto Pinochet toppled Allende’s regime bringing 17 years of dictatorship.
“If the opposition really considers itself democratic, it has to play the democratic game, and it has to participate in the elections. They have chosen to boycott the elections over the last years,” he commented.
Stop Interfering in Venezuela: Experts say to US
Noam Chomsky, Alfred de Zayas, Sujatha Fernandes, Boots Riley, John Pilger and many others oppose US interventionism in Venezuela. The statement is worth the read.
The United States government must cease interfering in Venezuela’s internal politics, especially for the purpose of overthrowing the country’s government. Actions by the Trump administration and its allies in the hemisphere are almost certain to make the situation in Venezuela worse, leading to unnecessary human suffering, violence, and instability.
Venezuela’s political polarization is not new; the country has long been divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. But the polarization has deepened in recent years. This is partly due to US support for an opposition strategy aimed at removing the government of Nicolás Maduro through extra-electoral means. While the opposition has been divided on this strategy, US support has backed hardline opposition sectors in their goal of ousting the Maduro government through often violent protests, a military coup d’etat, or other avenues that sidestep the ballot box.
Under the Trump administration, aggressive rhetoric against the Venezuelan government has ratcheted up to a more extreme and threatening level, with Trump administration officials talking of “military action” and condemning Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, as part of a “troika of tyranny.” Problems resulting from Venezuelan government policy have been worsened by US economic sanctions, illegal under the Organization of American States and the United Nations ― as well as US law and other international treaties and conventions. These sanctions have cut off the means by which the Venezuelan government could escape from its economic recession, while causing a dramatic falloff in oil production and worsening the economic crisis, and causing many people to die because they can’t get access to life-saving medicines. Meanwhile, the US and other governments continue to blame the Venezuelan government ― solely ― for the economic damage, even that caused by the US sanctions.
Now the US and its allies, including OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, have pushed Venezuela to the precipice. By recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the new president of Venezuela ― something illegal under the OAS Charter ― the Trump administration has sharply accelerated Venezuela’s political crisis in the hopes of dividing the Venezuelan military and further polarizing the populace, forcing them to choose sides. The obvious, and sometimes stated goal, is to force Maduro out via a coup d’etat.
The reality is that despite hyperinflation, shortages, and a deep depression, Venezuela remains a politically polarized country. The US and its allies must cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change. If the Trump administration and its allies continue to pursue their reckless course in Venezuela, the most likely result will be bloodshed, chaos, and instability. The US should have learned something from its regime change ventures in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and its long, violent history of sponsoring regime change in Latin America.
Neither side in Venezuela can simply vanquish the other. The military, for example, has at least 235,000 frontline members, and there are at least 1.6 million in militias. Many of these people will fight, not only on the basis of a belief in national sovereignty that is widely held in Latin America ― in the face of what increasingly appears to be a US-led intervention ― but also to protect themselves from likely repression if the opposition topples the government by force.
In such situations, the only solution is a negotiated settlement, as has happened in the past in Latin American countries when politically polarized societies were unable to resolve their differences through elections. There have been efforts, such as those led by the Vatican in the fall of 2016, that had potential, but they received no support from Washington and its allies who favored regime change. This strategy must change if there is to be any viable solution to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela.
For the sake of the Venezuelan people, the region, and for the principle of national sovereignty, these international actors should instead support negotiations between the Venezuelan government and its opponents that will allow the country to finally emerge from its political and economic crisis.
US orders non-essential diplomatic staff: Leave Venezuela
The US has ordered all of its “non-essential” diplomats and embassy staff to leave Venezuela “for security reasons”.
The US has also warned US citizens in Venezuela that they should “strongly consider” leaving the country, after Maduro said the US should pull their staff out of Caracas “if they had any sense.”
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has accused the US – and President Donald Trump personally – of fomenting a coup in Caracas while Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino accused it of waging “economic war” on his country.
Washington is setting dangerous precedent: Correa
Washington’s reckless push for regime change in Venezuela might set a dangerous precedent, former president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa told RT.
A situation, in which a man “declares himself an ‘interim’ president” and immediately gets recognition from 11 Latin American countries and the US, is “unseen,” Correa said, commenting on the latest developments in the crisis-ridden Venezuela and referring to the opposition head Juan Guaido.
Correa also said that the opposition head “ignored the constriction, laws, election … procedures” in his self-manifestation as “nothing of this sort is in the constitution.”
However, those pushing for the coup were apparently not very much concerned about the legal formalities but were instead focused on their own interests, according to Correa, who said the development set a dangerous precedent for such an approach to be extended on any other country, whose “government the US does not like,” regardless of whether it is democratic or not.
One can talk about a new Operation Condor now,” Correa said, referring to the infamous campaign of state terror and purges of alleged Communists conducted by US-backed South American dictatorships beginning in 1975.
“This is an impressive blow,” the ex-president said, referring to the development in Venezuela. “They avoid resorting to the military [action], assassinations or kidnappings for now because they do not need it. One cannot rule out that they could still resort to such methods” in the future, Correa warned.
The US President’s decision to recognize Guaido as the county’s “interim president” may set off a “possible civil war” in the oil-rich nation, WikiLeaks has warned.
Trump’s move on recognizing Guaido as the “interim president” of Venezuela might prove disastrous for the country, which has endured years of instability, and spark an open full-blown conflict, the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks tweeted.
It could lead to a “possible civil war in the country with the largest proven oil reserves,” it said.