Venezuela crisis

Read this blog to see the future. Back in November, I noted a media report that Colombian president Ivan Duque had agreed to support Brazil or the US if they decided to invade Venezuela to overthrow the country’s socialist government. (Columbia and Brazil denied the report.)

Well, two months later (Jan 2) we learned that the US was laying the groundwork for some sort of intervention in coordination with Brazil and Colombia:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is pledging to support allies in South America as they respond to the crisis in Venezuela.

In remarks Wednesday in Brazil, Pompeo said he and Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo discussed their “deep desire to return democracy” to Venezuela.

Later in Colombia, Pompeo said he discussed with President Ivan Duque how their nations might collaborate to help people in Venezuela while also responding to the flood of migrants fleeing that country’s economic collapse, though he provided few details on what was discussed.

And then on Wednesday, this happened:

Amid widespread protests on the streets of Venezuela, the newly elected chief of the country’s National Assembly declared himself “interim president” on Wednesday, prompting an immediate endorsement from US President Donald Trump.

“Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela,” Trump said in a statement from the White House.

“In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” the statement continued.

President Nicolas Maduro rejected this action, which he described as a US-backed coup, and gave US diplomatic personnel 72 hours to leave the country. The US responded by saying it stands with Guaido and “will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.” Quoth Senator Marco Rubio:

President @jguaido has asked us to remain. The United States should NOT comply with this illegitimate order from Maduro.

It should be made clear that we are prepared to take all actions necessary to guarantee the safety of our diplomats in #Venezuela.

I sense another Grenada coming.

Ok, so I can’t claim to have predicted all this in my November blog post. But I did make this comment, which I continue to stand by:

Caution is needed here. The American public does not want another foreign war, and a major intervention in South America is guaranteed to be a multi-faceted disaster.

Invasion of Venezuela in the works?

Things may be heating up in South America:

A top Colombian official told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that its government will support Brazilian’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro if he wants to overthrow the socialist government of Venezuela.

According to Folha, a top diplomatic official said that “if [President-elect] Bolsonaro wants to help overthrow Maduro with a military intervention, he will have the support of Colombia.”

According to the anonymous source, Colombian President Ivan Duque and his political patron, the hard-right former President Alvaro Uribe, would agree with a military intervention.

“If it is [United States President Donald] Trump or Bolsonaro are the first to set foot in Venezuela, Colombia will follow suit without hesitation,” the diplomat told Folha. […]

Ivan Duque Colombia

Colombian president Ivan Duque

Colombia’s conservative President Ivan Duque, who is supported by the far-right in his own divided country, considers Maduro a “dictator” and has refused to rule out military intervention.

“Duque is confident that if such an operation is underway, with the involvement of Brazil, Colombia and perhaps the US, they will participate. The region can no longer bear a worsening of the Venezuelan diaspora,” said the source.

Regarding that diaspora, the Miami Herald reported in June:

Almost 1 million people from Venezuela are thought to have poured into neighboring Colombia in the last two years, amid a grinding economic, social and political crisis that has rattled the region.

On Wednesday, Colombian authorities said a nationwide census found that 442,462 Venezuelans are living in the country without proper documentation and 376,572 Venezuelans are in the country legally — for a total of 819,034. […]

The Venezuelan exodus is being felt throughout the hemisphere. According to the International Organization on Migration, there were at least 1.6 million Venezuelans living abroad in 2017 — up from 698,000 in 2015.

Venezuela exodus Columbia

Venezuelans looking for a better life in Colombia (Source)

On a possibly related note, the “Axis of Evil” has a successor in the Western Hemisphere:

Now the Trump administration has coined the term “Troika of Tyranny” to describe the group of oppressive Latin American dictators it is pledging to confront. The administration is right to call out the crimes of the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. But it remains to be seen whether the White House can deliver a comprehensive strategy to go along with the rhetoric.

National security adviser John Bolton gave a speech Thursday afternoon at the Freedom Tower in Miami to a crowd filled with people who fled Cuba and Venezuela to escape the cruelty and oppression of the Castro and Maduro regimes. Linking those situations with the escalating repression of the Daniel Ortega government in Nicaragua, Bolton promised a new, comprehensive U.S. approach that will ramp up U.S. involvement in pushing back against what the administration sees as a leftist, anti-democratic resurgence in the region.

Caution is needed here. The American public does not want another foreign war, and a major intervention in South America is guaranteed to be a multi-faceted disaster.

Daniel Ortega Nicolás Maduro

Nicolás Maduro and Daniel Ortega