Gloria La Riva to ST: US is engaged in covert military actions against Venezuela

Wednesday, 03 April 2019

Damascus,(ST)-Is the danger of US military intervention against Venezuela near? What is the best workable way to resolve Venezuela crisis peacefully? And what are the similarities between US war against Syria and what Washington is attempting against Venezuela? These questions are answered by Gloria La Riva, the American anti-war activist, who works at Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee.

La Riva told the Syria Times e-newspaper that the US administration at this time can’t afford politically to directly intervene with U.S. troops, but they are engaged in covert military actions, including the arming and training of paramilitaries for possible action in the near future.

Her article in Liberation News, https://www.liberationnews.org/terrorist-plot-in-venezuela-thwarted/ explains one of those plots that has just been exposed and is being dismantled.

“The U.S. tactics right now involve the degrading of Venezuela’s infrastructure. They are trying to not only continue the electricity sabotage, but to permanently damage the power system in order to create severe hardship and evoke civil strife in the population. This way it can claim to rescue a “humanitarian crisis,” as the situation develops, and then perhaps use more direct military means,” La Riva said.

She added: “At some point, if all else fails, they will due what they have always done, send in the troops. As you know from Syria’s experience, this is the pattern of U.S. regime change efforts, work to create internal strife, then introduce massive amounts of weapons, support terrorist organizations that intervene and carry out a proxy and direct war. In Venezuela there is a danger every day of more attacks, on the electricity system, on the Metro system of Caracas, on the continued seizing of Venezuela’s oil and other wealth to prevent its ability to provide for the population, and of assassination attempts.”

The anti-war activist, who has been in many countries representing social justice causes, affirmed that US imperialism is heading these efforts, and is supported by its European, Canadian and right-wing Latin American allies.

The situation is peaceful in Venezuela, despite the extreme difficulties caused since January with the growing U.S. aggression

She referred to the fact that the masses who support the Bolivarian Revolution are resisting valiantly along with their government, keeping mobilized in the streets on a permanent basis, organizing in their communal councils and communes, linked with the ministries to distribute the food boxes called CLAP to more than 6 million families, working to set up alternative sources of water when the electricity is downed, forming civilian militias that work together with the military, and defending their homeland.

La Riva believes that the crisis would be resolved if the Venezuelan people were left alone without U.S. interference, without U.S. sanctions.

“When you hear the Venezuelans who oppose the rightwing opposition inside the country and the U.S. role, they say, “Yes, we have problems like everyone else, but let us solve them ourselves.” It is remarkable how peaceful the situation is in Venezuela, despite the extreme difficulties caused since January with the growing U.S. aggression. I was in Venezuela for the almost 5 days of blackout from March 7 to 12, and it was generally calm,” she stated.

The activist stressed that he people did what they could to overcome the water shortage, because electricity is needed for the water system, but there were no major disturbances. And yet the U.S. and its opposition forces have continued attacking the power system. One thing for certain, the U.S. government is promoting the violence as they have in various periods of the last 20 years.

“Juan Guaidó’s party, for instance, Voluntad Popular, Popular Will, is a fascist organization that is financed and its leadership fully supported in the recent terror plots that were uncovered. If successful they would have carried out major violence. That danger still exists,” La Riva asserted.

In response to a question about how people in the US can get involved to prevent war on Venezuela, the activist said: “People in the United States are organizing against the U.S. aggression under the banner of “No Sanctions, No Coup, No War, Hands Off Venezuela.” Many anti-war and social justice organizations have rallied on an emergency basis in more than 20 U.S. cities since late January. On March 16, a coalition that the ANSWER Coalition initiated and included Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, various Bolivarian Circles, and prominent activists, held the largest action to date for Venezuela, in Washington DC, starting at the White House. The movement is early and our biggest challenge is overcoming the enormous U.S. media war that has demonized the Venezuelan leadership and paralyzed part of the U.S. liberal population from opposing this latest U.S. aggression. But we see a positive development in these months, especially with so many young people who oppose U.S. war, who are already active in many social causes and who are not falling for the U.S. lies. We believe the movement will grow.”

#HandsOffVenezuela #HandsOffSyria

La Riva, in addition, elaborated the similarities between the U.S. war in Syria and what they are attempting against Venezuela.

“First is the demonization of President Bashar Al-Assad and making invisible the Syrian people, while it arms and supports the terrorist organizations. That is what has taken place in Venezuela as well, not only the demonization of President Maduro but President Chávez, too. Second is the continued attempt by Washington to prevent peace in Syria. The U.S. is relentless in its openly-stated plans to overthrow President Maduro. The Russian government’s support of the Syrian government and people has caused great anger within the U.S. imperial establishment, and Russia is also engaged in an invaluable alliance with the Venezuelan government.”

The activist emphasized that the resistance of both peoples is the essential element in defense of their sovereignty and independence.

“We salute Syria for staying strong against the years-long terror war, and also stand side-by-side with the people of Venezuela. #HandsOffVenezuela #HandsOffSyria,” La Riva concluded.

Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour

 

Advertisements

Saving Venezuela

Darko Lazar

The Russians and the Americans chose a luxury hotel room in Rome for their discrete diplomatic exchange on Venezuela’s political crisis.

The March 19 meeting between US Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov came on the heels of a series of events that set off alarm bells in the Kremlin.

In late February, the US attempted to use humanitarian aid shipments to instigate a confrontation between Venezuelan security forces and opposition factions.

Almost simultaneously, American-backed, self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido called for a foreign intervention while the party line in Washington remained unchanged – all options were still on the table.

Finally, Venezuela was struck by the first of two massive blackouts, which many suspect are the result of US cyber attacks.

Although the details of the tete-a-tete between Abrams and Ryabkov remain a secret, the latter did reveal that he articulated Moscow’s ‘red lines’ during the Rome meeting.

Ryabkov said that the American side was warned “against any temptation to resort to military power” in Venezuela.

“We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously,” he added.

But the talks in Rome had clearly failed to compel Washington to change course, or as Abrams so eloquently put it, the two sides “did not come to a meeting of the minds”.

And so, just a few days later, Moscow offered proof that Ryabkov’s warnings were more than just a mere boasting exercise.

From Moscow to Caracas via Syria

On March 23, two Russian air force planes, carrying nearly a hundred troops and 35 tons of equipment, touched down in Venezuela’s capital Caracas.

Just like the details of the Ryabkov-Abrams meeting, the exact contents of the Russian shipment to Venezuela remain unknown to the public.

But the snippets of information released are meant to highlight the Kremlin’s readiness to confront the US-backed regime change operation against President Nicolas Maduro.

For starters, the man leading the Russian contingent in the Latin American state is the First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces, Colonel General Vasily Tonkoshkurov.

Interestingly, Tonkoshkurov and his team passed through Syria on route to Venezuela.

The passenger aircraft landed in Damascus, while the heavy transport plane, which was carrying the equipment, flew via the Russian military’s Khmeimim air base outpost.

A few hours later, the men getting off the planes on the tarmac in Caracas were photographed wearing desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those worn by Russian personnel in Syria.

Although Moscow claims the deployment is the result of existing “contracts on military and technical cooperation”, it is doubtful that the Russians traveled to the Bolivarian Republic just to school the Venezuelans on how to use armaments that have been in their possession for years.

Instead, Russia insiders maintain that the men dispatched to Venezuela have spent years fighting back American attacks in Syria, which includes the shooting down of Tomahawk missiles.

Their expertise is a key component in readying Venezuela for any potential American military adventure.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that the tons of cargo did not include weapons, but advanced technological equipment for data gathering and electronic warfare.

These are not only useful in direct military confrontations, but also in counterinsurgency warfare and in subverting so-called activism by the opposition.

Talking priorities

The arrival of the Russians in Venezuela may already be putting the wind in Maduro’s sails.

The Venezuelan leader, who exercised a great deal of restraint over the years when dealing with destabilizing forces in his country, now appears to be positioning himself to move against Guaido.

Earlier this week, Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly backed the nation’s Supreme Court request to strip Guaido of his immunity.

The decision paves the way for possible legal proceedings against the 35-year-old over charges of inciting violence and engaging in illicit financial activity.

Naturally the news prompted a fresh round of threats from Washington, where officials promised that the “US will not stand idly by”.

Similar warnings followed the Russian deployment, too.

The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said that foreign military assets in Venezuela would be treated “as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”

But beneath all the chest beating lies the realization that Washington’s options in Venezuela have become extremely limited.

The acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan has even openly hinted that the US is not considering military action as a way to resolve the Venezuelan crisis.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump – who initially told the Russians to “get out” – explained last Friday that his strategy involves “talking about a lot to a lot of people, perhaps President Putin.”

Whatever “priorities” Abrams ignored in Rome last month, he is sure to be listening now.

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

Source

February 20, 2019

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

Vesti Exclusive! Evo Morales Shares His Insight Into the Venezuelan CIA Coup Situation!

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

February 07, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

INTRODUCTION

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hude such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N.s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel though both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.” He noted “that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.” However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military. …

29. … Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization. …

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied]. …

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”. …

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means. …

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill. …

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”. …

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”. …

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America.

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures. …

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law. …

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment. …

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens”, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him. …

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup. …

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change. …

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed. …

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country. …

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under. …

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

(NOTE: Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the U.S. empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.)

(NOTE: Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter: https://documents-dds-ny.un.. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.)

(NOTE: On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined

“Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges”. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference”. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”)

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

Flagrant, Cynical, Public attempt at coup d’état – Venezuela

Flagrant, Cynical, Public attempt at coup d’état – Venezuela

January 27, 2019

by Chris Faure for The Saker Blog

(*This is accurate at the time of posting but the situation is still developing fast. Updated comments at the end.)

It came as no surprise this past week when the US Administration made good on their promises to attempt to Regime Change Venezuela, the third part of John Bolton’s Troika of Tyranny, the other parts being Cuba and Nicaragua.

But there were a few surprises.

Saker readers would be familiar with John Perkins’ The Economic Hitman where he explained how Latin American leaders compliant to Western hegemony are bought and non-compliant leaders are removed, frequently with extreme prejudice. In Perkins’ time, these adventures were hidden, because they are illegal.

The first surprise here is the open and flagrant manner in which this coup d’état is proceeding, as if it is a great accomplishment. The Regime Changers are proud and beating their chests like gorillas with their illegal action as if the accomplishment is already in the bag. But is it? Despite Venezuela being a socially divided country between poor and rich, I believe there has been enough knowledge transfer to the ordinary Venezuelan so that this time, the Regime Change is not yet ‘in the bag’.

The second surprise was the sheer theatrical component of this attempted coup d’état, and the script and the technology of regime change is openly visible. The ones that are supporting the coup d’état, acted in concert, as a bunch of bullies would, with each part nicely scripted down to the 5 minutes. This will become clearer as we continue.

The third surprise is that in the UNSC meeting yesterday (Saturday, January 26) there probably has never been a more thorough listing of regime-change operations in Latin America. This was listed both by the Russian Representative and the Venezuelan Foreign Minister. This history is now clear and public, for all to see.

So, what happened in Venezuela this past week and why now? Why is it so urgent that over 70 Experts immediately called for the US to Stop Interfering in Venezuela and what prompted, for example, Peter Koenig to immediately broadcast this appeal? Venezuela – An Appeal to Russia, China and all Unaligned Countries for Support of Sovereign Venezuela

Let’s look at the timeline, then some editorial comment and lastly we look at who stands in the proverbial corner as allies with Venezuela and possible outcomes.

This week, Vice President Mike Pence of the USA called on the people of Venezuela to take to the streets against their elected government and called for the security forces of Venezuela to back this barefaced regime change called for by the US. He even prepared this video addressing the People of Venezuela, replete with badly accented Spanish assuring the People of Venezuela that “we [the US] are with you.” ‘Estamos con ustedes’ in a fake accent that makes the language of Spanish blush! He even had the temerity to use the term “Libertad” after years of brutal US imposed sanctions and various attempts at regime change over many years in Venezuela. Then, he ends with a distinctly pecksniffian ‘Vaya con Dios’, i.e, ‘Go with God’, he tells the Venezuelans. Besides the fact that this phrase is not even used in common Latin American speech and belongs to the genre of bad old 1950’s soap operas, it is truly the only piece that I agreed with. The Venezuelans will be much better placed to ‘Go with God’ than to ‘Go with Pence’.

The very next day, in what later turned out to be a paid leader of one of the smaller opposition groups, a certain Juan Guaidó holds an opposition rally in Caracas and declares himself “interim president of Venezuela” while denouncing incumbent Nicolas Maduro as “usurper.” This was just after a phonecall with Pence.

Literally, just a few minutes later, the script runs and US President Trump by Tweet pronounced Guaidó as the legitimate interim president. Within about half an hour, more scripting as Canada follows suit as well as several right-wing South American governments allied with Washington. These declarations were written down in formulaic form, and the similarity of the words and the denouncements is clear.

This prompted Paul Craig Roberts to quip: Washington Has Appointed A President For Venezuela. He soon followed up with this piece “The Exceptional Nation Asserts Its Exceptionalism” and he asks:

How long will other powers tolerate Washington’s illegality and aggression? How long will Americans tolerate the shame that Washington heaps upon their shoulders?”

In a display of brass effrontery and audacity, French President Macron announces that he supports “the restoration of democracy” in Venezuela and salutes “the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans marching for their freedom”, while in his own country he deploys riot police against the gilets jaunes (yellow vests).

Can you see that this coup d’état was planned on a tight timeline with the focus on quickly gathering enough world leaders to support it? The group that was pulled together for the coup planning is named the Lima Group. This group does not have formal standing and may have been fabricated for the distinct purpose of coup planning. They are now quoted as if they have gravitas.

Saturday January 27th, just before the UNSC met to discuss this, we have almost identical threats from France, Germany & Spain issued almost at the same time, to recognize Venezuela’s self-appointed president. The Venezuelan envoy to the UN quite rightly mentioned that the speeches in the UNSC sounds scripted and they are. In circumstances like these, we always get the embarrassing faux pas. The British representative told with relish how Maduro won the previous election (May last year) by stuffing ballot boxes. Well, Venezuela does not use ballot boxes. (Would it be sporting to call him ‘Qué idiota!‘? Let’s not be so rude and stick to ‘La marioneta‘ for now).

So, the next step back in Venezuela on Thursday, was that President Maduro announces cutting off diplomatic ties with the US and orders American diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours. This has subsequently changed to something that is not clear at the time of writing.

And here is the fairytale theater: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that since Maduro is no longer the legitimate president he has no authority to sever diplomatic ties with Washington and Trump and Pompeo threaten that “all options are on the table” – meaning military action – “if US personnel are endangered.” Wait a moment, let’s parse this down. First, they say Maduro is no longer President. Second, despite being no longer President, they hold him accountable for acts of violence against protestors? So, mob protestors can run free and create mayhem, because Maduro is in any event responsible? Truly Alice-in-Wonderland ‘off with her head’ methodology.

The situation is prime for an escalation. The main demand from the Western stooges seems to be new elections within 8 days and the West will ‘pave the way for a brighter future for Venezuela’. One cannot help but ask where they were up to now? And, what about those years of sanctions? And what about the engineered scarcity by multinational organizations of basic household goods because there are price controls in Venezuela to avoid excessive profiteering and gouging?

Why now?

It certainly seems that Russia’s more visible alliance with Caracas may have triggered the timing for this coup. Last month, Maduro visited Vladimir Putin in Moskow, and they signed multi-billion-dollar partnerships for oil exploration, mining, agricultural and other trade ties.

Within days of Maduro’s visit to the Kremlin, two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers flew 10,000 kilometers to Venezuela in a political (certainly not a military) show of Moscow’s support for Venezuela.

Washington’s reaction to the Russian bombers landing in Caracas was one of rage, indignation and sheer apoplexy.

All of John Perkins’ financial warfare techniques are being employed, as well as a few new ones. The one is called lawfare where local laws and constitutions are twisted to the extent that the underpinnings of the legal basis that a country functions within, is reduced to shreds. We saw this technique used to good effect in Brazil in April 2016, with the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and the jailing of Lula da Silva.

All however is not rolling out as the Coup Planners figured and the scripted theater is obvious.

– Maduro is managing to keep Venezuela calm and the last few nights there was no violent protesting. He speeched on Friday to urge dialog.

– Caracas Reporter Says: ‘US Plot in Venezuela Failing

– Take a look at the meeting of the OAS (The Organization of American States), where the first proclamation in the constitution of this body is that American countries will not interfere internally in the affairs of one another. At this body, Pompeo tried to get other countries to knuckle under and agree with the US power grab. He failed. (I’m sure what helped him fail, is that he could not even pronounce the name of the Interim Puppet President that the US tried to elect. The beloved and oh so competent Gweedo indeed! He was also late to the meeting. The OAS is a formal mainly Spanish speaking organization and this did not go unnoticed). The OAS is now in disarray. https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14241

– The Coup Planners also failed in getting the Venezuelan people to revolt, to get the Venezuelan military to revolt and to overthrow Maduro, which was the plan.

– The last two days in Venezuela were calm days after a fiery speech by Maduro that Venezuelan’s do not harm other Venezuelans.

– On Friday, Maduro is still in charge of the palace and Guaido (Gwaido, not Gweedo, but I might change my mind here, he may indeed turn out to be a Gweedo) gave what Venezuelanalysis.com calls duelling speeches. Guaido is still calling on the Venezuela armed forces to rise up against the Government, but his speech was given in a wealthy part of Caracas and he is holding as bait, all the money that will come from the US if the armed forces will rise up. The Venezuelan people inherently do not trust money promises.

– Maduro held a full press conference in Miraflores Palace saying that the US has no say in Venezuelan affairs. Apart from the press, his address was attended by scores of public officials, including ministers and numerous representatives of the armed forces. He also announced military drills. https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14255

– Caricom is not supporting this external meddling.

– At the UNSC on Saturday morning, the Coup Planners again failed to prevail as many countries spoke against the illegality of the Coup. China, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Russia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Saint Vicent, the Grenadines, Barbados, and Suriname, were among the countries that expressed their recognition of the legitimate and constitutional Venezuelan government.

So, where are we now?

The Coup Planners believe in their coup and they are as busy as little mice staffing up to rule Venezuela via an erstwhile ”La marioneta Gweedo‘. Their first appointment is someone that you may recognize immediately, and the next appointment you will remember from a little further back in history.

1. The Dream Team writing up a new set of laws for Venezuela to “ensure Venezuela’s transition into a better future”: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will be bringing humanitarian aid, Donna Shalala will stop the arming of Maduro’s thugs with batons and tear gas, while (yes, this is no joke) Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets arguably the hardest task of them all – taking on Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. https://www.rt.com/op-ed/449686-debbie-schultz-fixing-venezuela/

2. The Arch Neocon of neoconsElliott Abrams, who played a central role in the Iran-Contra scandal, and oversaw US regime-change wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. His job is to “help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.” Abrams is expected to coordinate all diplomatic efforts to replace President Nicolas Maduro with the self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, recognized by the US, OAS and several EU members. https://www.rt.com/usa/449756-abrams-pompeo-venezuela-iran-contra/

Dr Jill Stein’s comments on the appointment of Abrams – Dr. Jill Stein?‏Verified account @DrJillStein

Trump’s Venezuela point man Elliott Abrams:

-Backed death squads in Latin America that murdered 1000s for right-wing dictators

-Lied to Congress to cover up treasonous Iran-Contra affair

-Led 2002 US coup d’état attempt in Venezuela

Still think this is about democracy & human rights?

Comments

It is clear that Venezuela is struggling for existence while living under debilitating sanctions. It is also clear that after the last elections, and with the help of Russia and China, they made progress. But how can one make progress if a coup plotter promises to pay the coup executor with Venezuelan assets that were previously confiscated under a sanctions regime? Also, the country’s gold is being held hostage by Britain.

There are many accusations against Venezuela, and some have merit.  One of the legitimate accusations against Venezuela is the level of migration. It is not well known that there is an active program inside Venezuela to bring the migrants home. Even that is interfered with. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Ecuador-Delays-Venezuelan-Planes-of-Return-to-Homeland-Plan-20190126-0008.html

The fact of the matter here is not that ‘Maduro is Bad’, or ‘Socialism is Evil’, or ‘Venezuela is an economic basket case‘ or any of those excuses that we see in the public domain from ‘too-quick-thinkers’ and expat Venezuelans. (Is it really an economic basket case if Venezuelan assets in the West are being held hostage as a result of sanctions?) The fact of the matter is that there is flagrant and illegal regime change being carried out in front of our eyes to the benefit of globalist sociopathic, mobsters.

To the average American that is supporting this overt and barefaced attempt to take over and control another country, you cannot further support the thinking that your current administration is fighting globalism. These are your globalists, the Pompous Pompeo’s and Brutal Boltons and Pious Pences, with Mr Trump twittering the threat chants like a cheer leader. The appointments mentioned above, the Dream Team, is a team from the Democratic party. What’s all the more inflammatory is the flagrant illegality of Washington’s actions.

The opposition figure whom the White House has anointed as “acting president” but is actually “acting stooge puppet” and the minor congressional body he is backed by inside of Venezuela has been declared in contempt of the constitution by Venezuela’s supreme court. They are carrying out the steps to globalism in front of our very eyes and right now. They could not overthrow Venezuela’s government, so, they are trying to split it by paying US$200,000 to a usurper, that did not even take part in the previous elections, and they paid him to declare himself Interim President. Furthermore, they are offering money, but this money is not new money, it is money that has been taken by seizures, from Venezuela, under sanctions regulations. So, they are offering to pay their imposed President/Stooge/Puppet money that they confiscated to split Venezuela even further.

Why does this Latin American, Caribbean country called Venezuela tug at our heartstrings? Is it because despite all headwinds, all previous attempts at fomenting revolution and fomenting regime change, they stood strong against the globalists and neocons? I would suggest it is. I would suggest Venezuela is in the mold of Syria who has been fighting a war for their own self-determination for years now. I would suggest Venezuela is in the mold of Russia, that is grimly holding on to their own self-determination and building. I would suggest that the people of Venezuela will not tumble as this regime change further unfolds. They have not tumbled up to now.

Which Venezuelans do you care about? More than 50% of the country is MestizoWhat is your problem if these social people want some form of socialism? What if they feel that income from Venezuelan Oil is to be used to increase living standards for the whole country and the poor? What about their type of Socialism? Do you really believe that Maduro is similar to Sadam Hussein as he is now being represented by the Coup Planners and he is killing and incarcerating his own people at a tremendous rate? Have you not heard this type of accusation before, usually to drum up pretext and de-legitimize a victim for a war? Let the Venezuelan people vote out Maduro if they do not like him. In reality, they do like him. Do you really think that Brazilians will act as a proxy military force to destabilize Venezuela? Will Colombia provide soldiers for feet on the ground in Venezuela?

Let’s take a look at some young Venezuelans and their grasp of what is happening.

This is what the young Venezuelans are saying: “Trump is a little out of touch. Why would he come and save us. He only wants our oil and our riches.”

What happened (in other Latin American countries), will not happen here, because of the consciousness of the people.”

https://twitter.com/EmpireFiles/status/998834055620706304

This is what the young Venezuelan soldiers are saying: (Offered with support from Colombia).

“Listen, yankee, to what I’m going to say! In my country, you will never invade! Get over here because a beating is coming your way! We will be your Latin American Vietnam!”

https://twitter.com/futb0livariano/status/1087125667551031297

Despite what Governments say, there is a real understanding at grassroots level among the Latin American people that what can happen to Venezuela today, can happen to them tomorrow. Living in a Latin American country, I heard this being expressed a few times during the course of yesterday alone. “Hoy Venezuela, mañana nosotros”. Today Venezuela, tomorrow it will be our turn. So, despite the right leaning governments in Latin America, it is fair to say that the people know what the real deal is.

The hegemon is calmly walking into a constitutional crisis or a war or a civil war in Venezuela that may eventually look like Moscow, Black October 1993. Today Venezuela may be an economically failed state, but with good support and guidance from Russia, China and their other friends, they can still get out of this. In terms of the strength of their people, there is no failure.

Let’s take a look at the larger allies of Venezuela.

First we have Russia. President Putin spoke to Maduro and gave him real solid help and support.

President Putin Stands Up For President Maduro – Washington Coup CAN Be Stopped if Right Moves Made!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=240&v=daY7RdIN5f4

China

Always muted with nuanced language, China has made investment in Venezuela and they buy Venezuelan oil. China will not just sit back here, but it is hard to see what they will do – probably some asymmetrical action. Bear in mind that there are more trade talks scheduled for the coming week and a supposed 2nd meeting with Kim JongUn of North Korea. I would expect nuanced action from China.

India

New Delhi: “Following the US recognition of Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela, India has refused Washington’s call to recognize the opposition leader, saying that crisis should be resolved by the “people of Venezuela” through “constructive dialogue”. https://www.thewire.in/diplomacy/india-backs-nicolas-maduro-refuses-to-recognise-guaido-as-venezuelas-interim-president

India will continue to buy Venezuelan crude. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/venezuela-will-continue-to-sell-oil-to-india-envoy/article24646263.ece

Mexico

Although standing strong in their non-aligned status, they have declared that they will work on regional strength and Venezuela is not outside of the scope of the region. Mexico, the Caricom countries and Russia have offered internal mediation and help to Venezuela.

So, if we count Russia, China, India and Mexico alone, we are looking at 4 countries that are on the list of having the highest populations in the world. https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats8.htm

I would certainly say it is a sizable opposition to the attempted Coup Planners.

Caricom – https://caricom.org/communications/view/statement-by-the-conference-of-heads-of-government-of-caricom-on-the-latest-developments-in-the-situation-in-the-bolivarian-republic-of-venezuela

So, what can we theorize could be the expected outcomes?

None of us has a crystal ball and it is too early to say.

I would suggest that this phase of the attempted coup itself will fail, although the damage to the country of Venezuela, its people and its existence will be vast. The coup will fail because it is hamfisted and with the expectation of a ‘quick win’, there is no plan B that does not include the option of violence. The Coup Planners expected immediate victory but this was not to be. If history is a guide, the Coup Planners will double down, and double down yet again. In the past, a coup like this would be hidden because it is illegal. This one is out in the open; it cannot be argued and the coup planners engage in chest beating and a clear strategy, although not very well executed. Venezuela and its friends must prepare for a long siege.

It is clear that the situation on the ground is not understood by the Coup Planners. The real sense of hamfisted Spanish in Pence’s video, the defeat at the OAS, The Caricom announcement, the inability to pronounce the name of the new supposed interim leader by Pompeo and such other things is not falling on deaf ears in the Latin American population. The will of the Venezuelan people and their demonstrated abilities to withstand regime change cannot be underestimated. Venezuelans are well experienced about withstanding coups, as they’ve lived through a number of them.

The proposed Interim Puppet President Gweedo is clearly not of the strength to push through a coup as he is mainly in hiding. Venezuela is not bursting out into violence. The military and defense forces stand with Maduro. This is a principled and strong position but, one must bear in mind, against a strong enemy.

Despite the various governments in Latin America that became right leaning and had their governments appointed by the Hegemon, the people in Latin America understand where their opposition comes from. I cannot see Brazil or Colombia sending troops on the ground. The Venezuelan right is not united. American troops? Trump will most probably lose his base. I cannot see this.

The most scary scenario (very unlikely at present) would be that NATO Troops may be called in via Colombia.

The most probable outcome is that we see a protracted doubling down from the Coup Planners and a long period of just continued hammering at Venezuela on all levels. She will need all her allies firmly in her corner.

We wait to see if anyone raises a word against this illegal attempted coup and the Coup Planners in the United Nations Security Council.

Judging from the comments in the UNSC just yesterday, we may see the Monroe Doctrine being seriously challenged.

……………………………..

Updates

The full UNSC meeting can be found here:

http://thesaker.is/statements-of-the-russian-federation-for-the-un-security-council-meeting-on-the-situation-in-venezuela/

  • The brilliant but casual speech by the Venezuelan representative (Arreaza) Saturday morning at the UN makes good listening. Some excerpts:

“The United States is the one that should be evaluated (and not Venezuela) for its permanent disrespect and interference in external political affairs.”

“How is it possible that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who militarily threatened Venezuela, has not been questioned by the world?”

“How can it be possible for a lawmaker to proclaim himself president and for international governments to recognize him?”

“Force is being imposed on the law. That is dangerous and we must stop it here from the United Nations.”

  • France, Britain and the United States sing the very same story, each of them calling for a self-proclaimed President if elections do not take place within 8 days.
  • Cuba, whose representative sought the floor for a 2nd time clearly called out Pompeo’s lies but he had left already and was not there so that she could do it to his face. She had clear facts to back up her statements, as well as highlighting the unrelenting economic and trade war against Venezuela that curtail the opportunity for the Venezuelan people to seek out their own opportunity for themselves and to undermine social cohesion. She said that the US must clarify what responsibility they are willing to bear if their current actions provoke instability in the entire region. She called the US attempts an undignified assault on truth and indicative of the lack of respect that Pompeo’s government displays to the United Nations and people everywhere. Venezuela will never be anyone’s satellite or lackey. The return to the Monroe doctrine, the bullying has the aim of looting, pillaging and stripping the oil reserves of that nation. Go back to your history books, Michael Pompeo, she says. (I was expecting her to toss a shoe at him. Cuba Viva! )

A recent history of the run-up to the current point in time can be found here: https://venezuelanalysis.com/audio/14251.

Despite using the name Gweedo for some comical effect, the man’s name is Juan Guaidó

There is a big number of independent writers and bloggers and formal and less formal analysts speaking out about this travesty of justice in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This is heartening to see. MoonofAlabama has a list of Media Claims About Venezuela Are Lies Or Misconceptions. #Venezuela hashtag on Twitter contains a number of opinons.

Why Would the US Want Venezuela’s Oil When It Already Buys 41% of Its Total Exports?

January 26, 2019

The prevailing Alt-Media narrative that Washington wants to impose a pro-US puppet regime on Venezuela in order to control all of the country’s oil doesn’t make much sense when considering that it already buys 41% of the Bolivarian Republic’s total exports, meaning that another more nuanced explanation needs to be offered in order to account for this narrative double-think.

The Alt-Media Community is full of commentary about how the US wants to impose a puppet regime on Venezuela in order to control the country’s oil, but that doesn’t make much sense because it already buys 41% of the Bolivarian Republic’s total exports as evidenced by the Energy Information Agency’s executive summary of the energy trade between the two as of 7 January, 2019. The US is Venezuela’s top customer whereas Venezuela is the US’ third-largest supplier of crude oil imports according to the report, so Washington is already getting all that it needs from Caracas as it is. Given this ironic dynamic between the two geopolitical and ideological foes, it could be expected that the US would also obtain access to the resources of the world’s largest oil reserves in the Orinoco Belt one day too, once again contradicting the simplistic narrative that Washington is only waging this Hybrid War for the oil.

Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that control over Venezuela’s oil is indeed one of the motivations behind this conflict, though not in the way that it’s being portrayed. Alongside ensuring full geopolitical control over the Caribbean Basin and ideologically confronting socialism, the US wants to obtain predominant influence over Venezuela in order to incorporate it into a parallel OPEC-like structure for challenging the joint Russian-Saudi OPEC+ arrangement per the author’s late-2016 prediction about the formation of a “North American-South American Petroleum Exporting Countries” (NASAPEC) cartel. This entity would function as “Fortress America’s” energy component and have the potential to exert powerful long-term pressure on the international oil market at Russia and Saudi Arabia’s expense. When coupled with the US and Qatar’s joint LNG investment plans, it’s clear to see that the US is making a global power play for control over the world’s energy industry, which could very adversely affect Russia.

The multipolar Eurasian Great Power relies on its energy exports to advance its financial and geopolitical interests, though that might be more difficult to do despite its oil and gas partnerships with Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively (which are part of the country’s “balancing” strategy) in the event that the US’ Western Hemispheric-wide NASAPEC and its LNG alliance with Qatar are able to potently compete with it across this domain. The potential risk is that Russia could stand to lose out on a lot of long-term revenue if the US is able to manipulatively keep oil and gas prices low, which could combine with the increased costs associated with the New Arms Race brought about by Washington’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty to put immense pressure on Moscow to “compromise” with its chief geopolitical rival per the stratagem described by the author in his April 2018 piece about “What The US Really Wants From Russia”.

President Putin’s ultimate legacy rests on his ability to deliver on the many socio-economic promises that he made to his compatriots during his re-election campaign last year, though these were all predicated on the assumption that the future oil and LNG markets would remain stable and largely under Russia’s controlling influence, as well as the expectation that the country’s hypersonic missile advancements could deter the onset of a costly New Arms Race. The US’ aforementioned energy and military moves shattered those presumptions and could throw the Russian leader’s carefully crafted plans to improve the overall livelihood of all of his countrymen (especially the majority of the population that lives outside of its most developed cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg) into jeopardy, though right now this worst-case scenario is still far from certain pending the outcome of the Venezuelan Crisis, thus explaining why Russia is so eager to “mediate” between the government and “opposition”.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Can Nicolas Maduro Ensure the Survival of Venezuela’s Socialist Government?

Darko Lazar

Venezuela’s slow-moving political crisis shifted into a new phase this week as the country’s opposition leader and President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, swore himself in as interim head of state.

Despite never having stood as a candidate in recent presidential elections, or ever receiving a single vote, Guaido’s maneuver was quickly given the seal of approval from Washington under the pretext of ‘restoring democracy’ to Venezuela.

In what appeared to be a well-coordinated campaign, dozens of US allies followed suit, while anti-government demonstrations flared up in the streets of Caracas, leaving scores dead.

For those working the Venezuela beat, labels like ‘colored revolution’ and ‘another Maiden’ were increasingly hard to resist.

Meanwhile, the country’s elected leader, Nicolas Maduro, called it what it was – a coup d’état.

Maduro’s point of view was shared by his counterparts in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Cuba, China, Bolivia and Russia – all of whom have denounced Washington’s policy of regime change.

These dramatic developments have sharply accelerated the Venezuelan crisis, giving it brand new domestic, regional and international dimensions.

And although Maduro has been weathering challenges to his leadership since the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, in 2013, the situation has never been quite so intense.

This suggests that the campaign to remove him from office has officially peaked.

The question now is whether Maduro is able to ensure the survival of the socialist government that over 9 million Venezuelans voted for in the last election – one that has sought to liberate the country from Washington’s iron grip.

According to the Director at the Center For Syncretic Studies, Joaquin Flores, the Venezuelan president is not going anywhere, anytime soon.

“You are not going to see a speech tomorrow or in ten days from now, declaring out of the blue that Maduro is stepping down. That just doesn’t seem like it’s on the cards,” Flores told Al-Ahed News.

In yet another crucial development on Thursday, the Venezuelan military took to the airwaves to vow loyalty to the embattled president, declaring that Maduro represents an independent country in the face of imperialist aggression.

Flores believes that such realities on the ground further limit options for the opponents of the Venezuelan leader.

“Maduro still enjoys support from broad segments of society and importantly the command of the military,” he added while ridiculing the foreign interpretation of the Venezuelan constitution, which is used to justify Guaido’s recognition as interim president.

“There is no vacancy of the presidency in the way that it is being ridiculously interpreted,” Flores explains. “The president would have to be missing not just declared a persona non grata by a foreign entity. Furthermore, that vacancy does not move over to the president of the National Assembly. It moves over to the vice president [of Venezuela]. In the event that there is no vice president – and there is a vice president – then it goes over to a new election.”

For his part, researcher in Latin American affairs, Hassan Al-Zein, shares Flores’ optimism about Maduro’s political future.

“There is a good possibility that Maduro will not be toppled,” Al-Zein said. “He can avoid it because the army is by his side. There is also popular support.”

Tough obstacles

A combination of harsh US sanctions, a subversive, foreign-backed opposition, and the collapse of oil prices have crippled Venezuela’s economy, fomenting years of unrest.

The country with the world’s largest known oil reserves is now plagued by skyrocketing inflation and a shortage of basic goods.

However, most of the mainstream coverage of the Venezuelan crisis will attribute these problems to the ‘incompetent’ and ‘widely unpopular’ Maduro government.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, other states that oppose and challenge US dominance appear to have a lot more confidence in Caracas.

During the two decades of Chavista rule, Venezuela has emerged as one of Iran’s most important strategic allies, with the two countries signing economic and military agreements valued in the billions of dollars.

Late last year, Maduro was hosted in Moscow by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, where the two inked multi-billion-dollar partnerships for oil exploration, mining and other trade ties.

Meanwhile, in the first nine months of 2018, Caracas exported over 23 tons of gold worth USD 900 million to Turkey, after Maduro decided to abandon gold refining from Switzerland over fears that his country’s assets may be seized in line with US sanctions.

And then there is China, which has given Venezuela USD 65 billion in loans, cash and investment over the last decade.

More importantly, China exerts a great deal of influence in the whole of Latin America, where it is the second largest trading partner.

As such, both Al-Zein and Flores agree that Washington’s efforts to remove the Maduro government are unlikely to go unchallenged by Venezuela’s powerful allies.

“Things aren’t going to happen in Venezuela that China perceives are contrary to its interests in the region,” Flores opined. “I think China likes Maduro and I think that China likes the present government in Venezuela. So that’s a very tough obstacle.”

Meanwhile, Al-Zein is convinced that another obstacle will come in the form of Russian troops on the ground.

“I believe that Russia considers that Venezuela resembles President Bashar al-Assad. It cannot allow the overthrow of this man no matter the price. This is clear from the strong statements, as well as the planes [Russian Tupolev Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers] it sent.”

It is difficult to ascertain how seriously these scenarios are being considered in Washington where US President Donald Trump refuses to rule out military action against Venezuela.

But with two men claiming the post of president, the Venezuelan crisis has the potential to quickly morph into another Syria-style bloodbath with far reaching geopolitical consequences.

Source: Al-Ahed News

Related Articles

%d bloggers like this: