A sociologist writing in the Guardian shares my concerns about the situation taking shape in Venezuela, and the US involvement therein:
By declaring himself Venezuela’s president on Wednesday, Juan Guaidó has brought Venezuela to the edge of catastrophe. The hitherto unknown opposition leader’s actions, which appear to be closely coordinated with if not directed by the US, have set in motion a perilous chain of events.
The US recognized Guaidó as president minutes after his declaration. A number of Latin American nations, most with conservative governments backed by the US, have also done so. The growing list includes Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, and Paraguay. Canada and the Organization of American States have also recognized Guaidó. The European Union has reportedly considered such a step, but for now has instead issued a call for new elections.
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has responded to these actions by breaking relations with the US and ordering US diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours. Guaidó, in turn, told US and other diplomats to stay, a message also put forward by Republican US senator Marco Rubio, a leading opponent of Maduro. The Trump administration is ignoring Maduro’s order, which a senior official called “meaningless.” Another senior Trump official has declared, “All options are on the table,” reiterating a message Trump himself has put forward since 2017.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. But a US invasion feels like a real possibility.
This course of action must be firmly rejected. This is not because Maduro deserves anyone’s support or sympathy. It is because of the untold suffering and damage US military intervention would bring to Venezuela and the region, and the vanishingly small likelihood such action could bring the change Venezuela needs.
This is a big deal.
But even bigger things are yet to come.
Exclusive: The Bank of England has denied Maduro’s request to bring back $1.2 billion from its vaults, following requests from U.S. officials Pompeo and Bolton https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-25/u-k-said-to-deny-maduro-s-bid-to-pull-1-2-billion-of-gold …
12:48 PM – 25 Jan 2019
I wonder what those “bigger things” might be!
The problem, of course, is that Maduro is the guy who actually has the power in Venezuela, whether the US recognizes him or not. Thus we have this:
A standoff is developing at the U.S. Embassy in the Venezuelan capital after a top Socialist Party official threatened to shut off electricity to the complex amid a growing power dispute in the oil-rich nation.
“They say they don’t recognize Nicolas,” Cabello [a close Maduro ally] said late Wednesday on state television. “OK. Maybe the electricity will go out in that neighborhood, or the gas won’t arrive. If there are no diplomatic relations, no problems.”
The deadline Maduro gave for the U.S. to remove its staff would expire in the afternoon on Saturday, Jan. 26. A refusal to evacuate would test Maduro’s reaction and whether he’d be willing to use force to try to expel them from the country which could in turn trigger a strong reaction from the U.S. including tougher sanctions. The U.S. has been preparing possible oil sanctions, and Trump said on Wednesday that he wouldn’t even rule out military options.
Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, one of the key brokers to resolve the power struggle, publicly backed Maduro Thursday while welcoming dialogue with other governments to find solutions.
Here’s more about the secret maneuvering that led to the Juan Guaido’s self-appointment as leader of the South American nation of 32 million:
The coalition of Latin American governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president came together over weeks of secret diplomacy that included whispered messages to activists under constant surveillance and a high-risk foreign trip by the opposition leader challenging President Nicolas Maduro for power, those involved in the talks said.
In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.
To leave Venezuela, he sneaked across the lawless border with Colombia, so as not to raise suspicions among immigration officials who sometimes harass opposition figures at the airport and bar them from traveling abroad, said a different anti-government leader, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss security arrangements.
Another question: Who is this Juan Guaidó guy, anyway? Reuters provides some background. Amusingly, he was not one of the 10 “leading opposition figures” profiled by Americas Quarterly magazine last year.