Venezuela's foreign minister on 'failed' coup and new Non-Aligned Movement.


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Humanitarian Fakery Fails its Big Test in Venezuela. [Republished]

By Maximilian Forte
Zero Anthropology, 24th February, 2019

There it is: Saturday, February 23, 2019, has now come and gone—and it’s not to say that “nothing has changed”. In fact, some important changes did occur, none of which were the ones hoped for by either the self-declared “president” of Venezuela, Juán Guaidó, nor the ones commanded by the President of the US, Donald “Can I have my Nobel Peace Prize now?!” Trump. US options have thus narrowed, as we enter a protracted and potentially more dangerous phase where possible US military intervention draws closer. So let’s quickly review some of the changes introduced by yesterday’s events.

First, the unelected, self-declared “president” of Venezuela is no longer even in Venezuela. He used the opportunity of the US AID stunt to spirit himself across the border to Colombia, with the apparent well-wishes of ushers in the Venezuelan military (he should have been suspicious, unless he really intended to flee), and Guaidó now finds himself as a tourist in Colombia. Second, the military which Guaidó presumed to order, completely ignored him and remained loyal to the established government, the only legal and legitimate one. Indeed, the third point is that in failing the credibility test, Guaidó also failed the legitimacy test: how can he be viewed as a legitimate leader, without anything to lead, and with none of the state machinery following him? That is not a leader; at best, Guaidó can be defined an aspirant to power. He is a legitimate aspirant. Some in the opposition are already speaking of an alternative deal with the Maduro government. Having failed the credibility and legitimacy tests, a frustrated Guaidó had no option other than to invite foreign military intervention—if his own military won’t listen to him, surely other nations’ militaries will? And what about Richard Branson’s much vaunted aid concert? That takes us to the fourth point: that concert was drowned out, not just by a competing concert on the Venezuelan side of the border, and not just because it failed to draw any major international acts (perhaps thanks to Roger Waters), but the events of the day itself meant that not even a word was mentioned about the concert. It was like it had never happened. The fifth development is probably the most significant: US AID via Colombia, and similar “aid” intrusions from Brazil and Puerto Rico, were a resounding failure. The frustration that had been building up for days about the lack of a viable plan, was well warranted, as was Maduro’s optimism. Not well warranted were the raised expectations.

(Note, while the headline in the The New York Times claims that aid came in via Brazil, its source on the ground instead said, “The whole thing has failed” and the trucks “remained stranded on the border”. The story is misleadingly playing on a technicality: the aid left the Brazilian side of the border, but did not pass the Venezuelan checkpoint.)

What’s Next?

This takes us back to the central question of the previous article: what is the US’ next move? Simply insulting the Venezuelan armed forces, in what some called an “irresponsible speech,” by suggesting they are guilty of dereliction of duty, then insulting them further by saying Cuba directly controls the Venezuelan military, and then insulting them yet again by assuming that they should instead take their orders directly from Washington—will not work, and that much has been proven. The US, speaking the language of “democracy promotion,” has been openly hoping for a palace coup—no such movement is in evidence however. All we know is that Vice President Mike Pence (who is likely leading the Venezuelan intervention to shield Trump) will be meeting with aspirant Guaidó at his new lodgings in Colombia. That, and more sanctions, as if Venezuela’s government expected anything else.

Clearly the obese billionaire in the Oval Office relished the prospect of one day (soon) boasting that he had toppled a “regime” by just throwing some scraps of dog food at the feet of “desperate and starving” Venezuelans. (They just have to be desperate and starving, because their place in the natural order of things is that they are citizens of a “shit hole country”.) It would have pleased him immensely, he would have smiled slyly, to know that a well fed American can dangle a MRE pack in front of “hungry” eyes, and then sit back and listen to them scamper and scuffle. Such images enforce the evolutionist paradigm of progress, development, and global dictatorship. Trump would have told his friends: “You should have seen what happened, I just sent in crap like TV dinners to that shit hole country, and those pathetic losers fell all over themselves to get it, and the regime collapsed. Poof! Beautiful. Then I took their oil”. (The last point is important, because Trump has the ethics of a looter, and his foreign policy is a projection of his business practice: theft, scams, and all sorts of other wrongdoing enough to warrant hiding many years of tax returns behind some old yarn about an audit that is apparently eternal.)

Particularly important about the day’s events was the fact that two partners in an intended coup each failed their respective tests. The US and its regional allies showed that they could not even spirit in some boxes of junk “aid” and that they held no sway over the Venezuelan military. Guaidó failed to show that he commanded any support that mattered. He didn’t even have a few miserable boxes of US aid to selectively hand out to build up a patron-client network. Having auditioned for the role of CIA tool, he only demonstrated he was not worthy of the investment. He then fled. Then the government shut down his rumoured base of operations in Caracas: the Colombian embassy. The US could not have achieved less had it picked up any random person off the streets of Caracas.

Regime Survival Got a Boost

The unintended by-product of the US’ inability to command change, is a recipe for regime survival: everything that Venezuelans suffer from now on can be appropriately and rightly blamed on US intervention; opponents of President Nicolás Maduro can be labelled traitors, CIA proxies, and puppets of Washington, with considerable justification—thanks to US intervention; Venezuela will adapt and survive US sanctions like multiple other states have done; US oil refineries, shipping companies, insurance firms and banks—the other side of Venezuelan exports of oil to the US—will now suffer irreversible loss, and the US thus also loses its chokehold on Venezuela. Rather than American hegemony, it’s multipolarity that is advancing, with Venezuela moving closer into the orbits of Russia, China, and India. (India itself is completely unafraid of US sanctions, according to Indian analysts.) The US, especially under Trump, has responded to almost everything and everyone with either sanctions or their twin, tariffs, to the extent that there is virtually not a nation left on earth that is not subject to some sort of tariff or sanction from the US. The US is sanctioning itself into irrelevance, as the rest of the world devises ways of learning to live without it.

What Did We Not See?

What was strangely absent from the day, in all the live television footage and numerous photographs of the events, were at least two things: one was that however many showed up to back Guaidó, it certainly was not the 700,000 to a million people he had promised. The other was the bizarre absence of any Venezuelan soldiers from virtually all of the photographs and live television coverage. How they could maintain a forceful presence, yet remain invisible to the media, is quite an achievement—one that denies the media any coup-worthy moments of manufactured, orchestrated outrage. Of course what was also absent—and we knew this would be—was any evidence of these supposedly starving Venezuelans. Having grown up in a society saturated with media images of the now classic “starving Ethiopian,” emaciated bodies with distended bellies, it’s noteworthy that the coup media cannot pull off such a display with Venezuela—that would be the same Venezuela with the supermarkets stuffed with goods.

Beware of Alternative “Fake News”

These postscripts are intended as memoranda to RT, CNN, and others: please check your sources for the claim that former US Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams was involved in actually smuggling in weapons in the guise of humanitarian aid. However appealing that image may be, it is a dorky and corny tale that arouses suspicion. It generally does not pass the smell test—check the last two links for further insight, and also see the Wikipedia page. Abrams was, after all, a State Department official, and not a field operative. In addition, he is being blamed for the operations that were conducted by Lt. Col. Oliver North and the CIA. The “humanitarian aid” disguise was aimed at the US Congress: Congress appropriated funds for humanitarian aid, and some of the funds were misused to arm the Contras illegally. It was no secret that the US was arming the Contras either—they were backed by the US, and they were armed. Most of that aid went to US bases in El Salvador and Honduras (US allies), where there was no need to “disguise” the aid, and it went to the Contras, a military force—again no need to disguise the aid. It’s not like Abrams called Contra leaders and surprised them: “We’re sending you some bags of rice. Or are we? Wink, wink”. They certainly were not fooling Nicaragua’s government, nor did Nicaragua allow in any such “aid” only to somehow find out it was not real humanitarian aid at all—that never happened. Nicaraguan authorities did capture a US pilot, after an illegal flight resulted in a crash inside Nicaragua, revealing the contents of what the US was sending the Contras: weapons, when Congress had banned military aid to the Contras. Abrams was just one figure among many in the story, and not the most directly involved.

The “Trojan Horse” charge is thus being misinterpreted and turned into something laughable. No serious person thinks the US was trying to smuggle in weapons in US AID boxes, in front of thousands of cameras in the plain light of day. That’s why not-so-secret flights exist instead. The “Trojan Horse” idea instead seems to be a little too complicated for the media which prefers a cartoonish rendition. The serious argument is that the aid was intended to shore up Guaidó’s power, since the aid was going directly to the opposition; and, the aid expressly bypassed the legal and legitimate government authorities of Venezuela, and was thus meant to undermine their authority. Furthermore, Guaidó spoke of the “aid” effort as being one that would create a “humanitarian corridor”—echoing terminology used by the US in Syria—and which would have meant wresting territory from the hands of the Venezuelan state, thus allowing the US free passage in and out at will. In addition, the hoped-for clash (which did not materialize to the extent that was feared) could have served as a pretext for warming up international opinion in favour of a US military “rescue”. That’s the extent of the Trojan Horse in this case—it’s not about grenades inside bags of rice. Otherwise President Nicolás Maduro did not “reject” any so-called “aid” from the US, because none had been given to him. The only thing the Venezuelan government did was to block its borders from being used for illegal purposes by foreign powers—its sovereign right. It did so, and it won.

Also tenuous is the story, repeated on RT several times now, that seems to take great joy in upbraiding rivals like CNN for reporting that Venezuelan authorities had “closed” the Tienditas bridge, built in 2016 and supposedly never opened (a bridge to nowhere?). Venezuelan authorities did in fact move containers to block that bridge, and were recorded doing so by Colombian authorities on February 5, of this year. Moreover, and this is the more important point: Maduro repeatedly said any attempt to move the aid into Venezuelan would be blocked. There was never even the slightest hint that Maduro would just stand aside and let it pass. It seems that some foreign journalists are divided by their partisan loyalties and create the appearance of wanting to have their cake and eat it too: the humanitarian aid is not for humanitarian purposes, and has been denounced by several of the leading international humanitarian aid agencies, but it’s not like Venezuela shut down a bridge to prevent aid from reaching suffering masses—this seems to be their odd narrative, designed to satisfy multiple competing constituencies. The events of February 23 will hopefully clarify any lingering misinterpretations, on any side.

Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America's War on Venezuela.


Sanctions of Mass Destruction: America’s War on Venezuela.
By Garikai Chengu | Canadian Dimension | February 4, 2019.

"American economic sanctions have been the worst crime against humanity since World War Two. America’s economic sanctions have killed more innocent people than all of the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ever used in the history of mankind.

The fact that for America the issue in Venezuela is oil, not democracy, will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore history. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves on the planet.

America seeks control of Venezuela because it sits atop the strategic intersection of the Caribbean, South and Central American worlds. Control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

From the first moment Hugo Chavez took office, the United States has been trying to overthrow Venezuela’s socialist movement by using sanctions, coup attempts, and funding the opposition parties. After all, there is nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état.

United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, recommended, just a few days ago, that the International Criminal Court investigate economic sanctions against Venezuela as a possible crime against humanity perpetrated by America." Read more...

Venezuela: The next Move and the final Word. [Republished]


Venezuela: The Next Move and the Final Word.
By Maximilian Forte
Zero Anthropology, 17th February, 2019.

Almost a month after Donald Trump recognized Juán Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, and the imperial media started to label Nicolás Maduro as the “disputed” president of Venezuela (as if that were a universally accepted statement of fact), nothing has happened to unseat Maduro. The intended coup does not appear to be advancing. Meanwhile the US continues its sanctions, only now they are sanctioning a country they claim is led by someone who is not Maduro. If one mistook rhetoric for reality, US foreign policy would appear to have been conceived in some sort of Twilight Zone. Back in the real world, the US tacitly recognizes that Maduro is in fact the head of government and state in Venezuela, and both the threats of US military intervention and the sanctions themselves prove that point.

Far from a wave of popular condemnation of the Maduro government, Venezuela instead experiences something of a “slow coup,” mostly based on support from foreign right-wing governments. Following ZA’s sketch of the models used for this intended coup, ranging from Ukraine to Libya and Syria, others warned that we should look out for the “7 rules of regime change” that typically constitute the US’ campaigns of foreign destabilization. Libya was actually an appropriate analogy in some key regards, one of them being that the US was actively inciting chaos by trying to create a situation where more than one government claimed legitimacy. As for Ukraine, it was the Ukrainian Foreign Minister himself who drew the analogy between the Maidan protests and events in Venezuela. Also indicative of this approach is the fact that Trump hired the infamous Elliot Abrams (an ardent “Never Trumper” but an even bigger opportunist), one of the original neocons who played a role not just in the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela—and has now been called back for an encore—but was also tied to the covert war against Nicaragua, lying to Congress, and providing cover for the notorious death squads in El Salvador during the 1980s. In the US Congress, Democrats in charge of the House Foreign Affairs Committee put together a “team” to deal with Venezuela, including one Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was guilty of rigging electoral processes within the DNC to the disadvantage of Bernie Sanders in 2016—worthy coup experience. (Yet, on that same committee there have been some outstanding exceptions, namely Ilhan Omar.)

Venezuela and the Problem for Trump’s White House


Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela

However the problem is that the “slow coup” approach seems to be increasing frustration in the ranks of both the Venezuelan opposition and the White House. How much longer can the US government tolerate its commands being ignored and “defied”? The longer this goes on, the greater the chance that Trump will lose face, at a delicate political time of upcoming US presidential elections and when he has lost so much face already. This is a person who has long boasted that his administration would always be “winning,” winning so much that his supporters would tire of all the winning. What has Trump won with Venezuela? If Trump just lets things continue, Venezuela could learn to survive sanctions the way several other states have also learned to survive them. Venezuela still has some powerful friends: China, India, and Russia chief among them. Venezuela is not under a UN-approved international sanctions regime, the kind imposed on Iraq, North Korea, and Iran. Venezuela still has room for manoeuvre, and even an IOU can carry a lot of weight if it based on possession of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. In addition, Venezuela’s armed forces declared their loyalty to President Maduro. The opposition made feeble, legalistic efforts to win over the military’s support (basically promising only to not “prosecute” the military for supporting the legitimate government), but this failed from the outset. Meanwhile the military held prominent exercises under the direction of Maduro’s government. The military continued to hold extensive exercises from February the 10th to the 15th, in practice for a counter-invasion. At this rate, Trump could enter the 2020 electoral campaign with Maduro still in power in Venezuela, and Trump’s opponents lampooning him as a failure: all sound and fury and nothing more than promises made of hot air.

The other option of course, the one that Trump frequently repeats is always “on the table,” is US military intervention in Venezuela. This would then be Trump’s first new war added to the list of the US’ current wars. There now appears to be a straight line of seamless continuity running from George W. Bush to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, especially where regime change in Venezuela is concerned. Trump, who sometimes feigns awful annoyance at the “Obama legacy,” which he pretends to want to destroy, is only too keen to shore it up in Venezuela. The one “national emergency” about which no one is threatening to sue the White House, a “national emergency” decreed by Obama and still in force, is the one that classes Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. On his way out the door, Obama renewed and extended that same “national emergency”—and Trump loyally picked up the baton. Yet Venezuela has never threatened the US, and the US Congress has not authorized any military action in Venezuela. Will Trump be reticent about usurping authority by continuing to expand the executive power of the imperial presidency? If he does, another charge will then stick during the 2020 campaign: that he is authoritarian. Not just authoritarian, but one also responsible for starting a new, unpopular and costly war, an illegal war. Far from ending the US’ “foreign entanglements” and “nation building” crusades, Trump will have added to them. This would then become the final word on the Trump presidency.

Trailing a long line of failures and broken promises, Trump would be entering the 2020 presidential campaign (if his administration can survive that long), with a brand new war to place on the shoulders of Americans. Tired of all the “winning” yet?

Trump has engineered quite the situation for himself. If he does nothing more, and Maduro survives, Trump loses face. More than that, he has already lost Venezuelan oil for a whole range of US-based oil refineries and transnational shipping firms, not to mention countless billions bypassing the US financial system, and there is already talk of tapping the national oil reserve. It would be a situation where Trump ends up with less than if he had said nothing at all about the Maduro presidency—an indisputable defeat. On the other hand, if Trump chooses the military option, besides the US facing eventual defeat like it has done regularly since Vietnam, the political backlash at home would be devastating. So which is the way out for Trump?

Trump’s Next Move

 

There are two significant clues that suggest Trump will choose to go to war with Venezuela. One is a foreign clue, and the other is domestic. The first clue is that February 23 is likely to be the turning point. The US and its Venezuelan force multipliers are constructing a situation that could be used to provoke armed intervention by the US: an innocent humanitarian aid convoy, embraced by democracy-loving innocent civilians in Venezuela, fired upon mercilessly by the forces of the “brutal dictatorship”. Not only is the US ready to sacrifice Venezuelan lives, it is likely ready to sacrifice the lives of the US AID personnel currently in Cucuta, Colombia (poor saps, they had better get their life insurance policies in order). It has to be the kind of event that makes most Americans gasp in shock, and demand immediate justice. I don’t know if this can work, or will happen, especially because the Venezuelan government has so far excelled at playing it cool, and outsmarting the opposition.

The second clue, domestic in focus, is that Trump has recently decided to declare a war on socialism at home, with the aid of Fox News, Breitbart, and various alternative right-wing media. The only way for Trump to sell his war in Venezuela is by simultaneously linking it to a war at home. That way Trump can parade himself among diminished groups of supporters and pretend that his policy in Venezuela is what they want, and what they need: a world free of socialism.

The image of “Venezuela” is thus being instrumentalized for use against “domestic enemies,” suggestively linking the two, and the evidence for that comes directly from Trump himself. In his “State of the Union” speech of February 5, 2019, Trump stated the following about Venezuela just before turning back to the US:
Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela—(applause)—and its new President, Juan Guaidó. (Applause.) We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom, and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair. (Applause.)
Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country….”


When one heard the speech, the flow from Venezuela to socialism in the US was both smooth and rapid—it was unmistakable that the suggestive link between the two was deliberately planned. To further applause, including from some Democrats, Trump added: “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country”. What they did not hear, and they should have if they truly listened, was Trump’s declaration of war on Venezuela.


Venezuela: The Final Word on Trump

In reviewing Trump’s foreign policy positions over the past three decades, there was one vital piece of evidence that I either overlooked or whose significance I simply did not realize (and since I have not seen the analysis that follows anywhere else, it seems everyone missed this too). While Trump may sound like he is against “endless wars,” “foreign entanglements,” “nation building” and the overthrow of foreign regimes that involves the US in affairs that do not concern it, and while he preaches respect for “sovereignty” and vows not to impose “American values” on other nations—all seemingly exceptional positions for an American president, enough to get him branded an “isolationist”—all of this is conditional on one key factor: distance/proximity.

If a potential target nation is “far away”—for example, Afghanistan and Syria—then it is wrong for the US to get involved. However, if the nation is “close” to the US—i.e., all the nations of the Western Hemisphere—then it is right for the US to intervene because in areas close to home, the US has a “special responsibility”. It’s a claim to ownership, and it’s a return to the classic neocolonial geopolitics of the Monroe Doctrine (and Trump formally cited Monroe in his 2018 address to the UN General Assembly).

The evidence for this notion of a “special responsibility” tied to proximity, comes from Trump himself. While at a golf course in August of 2017, Trump told reporters:
We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbor. We’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary”.

Vice President Mike Pence reiterated this explanation to Fox News, answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela:
President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere…He’s long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that’s a longstanding tradition”.

Not speaking out of turn (for a change), national security adviser John Bolton offered further confirmation: “The fact is Venezuela is in our hemisphere. I think we have a special responsibility here, and I think the president feels very strongly about it”.

Trump views Latin America as the US’ “backyard,” sovereignty thus does not apply to the Western Hemisphere’s states. But if Trump does not respect the sovereignty of Latin Americans, then why should they in turn respect the sovereign borders of the US? If sovereignty does not apply in relations between states in the Americas, then Latin Americans should dismiss US sovereignty, and freely pour across the US’ southern border. Where there is no equality and reciprocity, then invasion and counter-invasion will have to do.

If distance/proximity is one factor limiting, even reversing the scope of Trump’s putative anti-interventionism, civilization is another. On a trip to Poland in July of 2017, Trump delivered a controversial speech that many justifiably understood to be a classic defence of “White, Western, Christian civilization”:
“….we will never forget who we are….Americans will never forget. The nations of Europe will never forget. We are the fastest and the greatest community. There is nothing like our community of nations. The world has never known anything like our community of nations. We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers. We reward brilliance. We strive for excellence, and cherish inspiring works of art that honor God. We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression….That is who we are. Those are the priceless ties that bind us together as nations, as allies, and as a civilization”.

Reflecting on this, I argued elsewhere that “Trump respects sovereignty only for those who are qualified to possess it: White Western Christian nations, in loose terms”. I noted that Trump evidenced the most respect for nations that are linked to the US through cultural parentage—“but where cultural affinity is lacking, Trump chooses the American materialist’s preferred substitute for culture: money, and lots of it”. Trump thus has respect for European nations plus Israel (i.e., Euro-America in the Middle East), but also China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia—that is the map of Trump’s world of sovereign states. The rest of the world is inhabited by what he freely calls “animals,” and “monsters,” shit-hole nations usually ruled by “brutal dictators”—this is the wild neocolonial frontier: it is the world beyond the pale, and beyond the pallid.

It is outside of the domain of Trump logic where we find Trump’s supposed anti-interventionist stance on Syria and Afghanistan directly collides with his actions against Venezuela and Iran, a fact noted by many others besides myself. (Except Iran does not fit within Trump’s logic as described above, which shows that it’s not much of a logic at all.) In the world of the critically rational, where people struggle to understand reality and not deny it, where contradictions need to be explained even if they cannot be reconciled, then this is how Venezuela will be the final word on Trump, especially if a war happens—read each sentence on the left, and then interject the word on the right as a corrective:

Donald Trump’s Explicit Position (Myth) (Reality)
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world”… Venezuela
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone”… Venezuela
each nation of the world must decide for itself what kind of future it wants to build for its people”… Venezuela
America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination”… Venezuela
I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship”… Venezuela
Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination”… Venezuela
Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers”… Venezuela
Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all”… Venezuela
Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect”… Venezuela
“…you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first”… Venezuela
The United States of America has been among…the greatest defenders of sovereignty”… Venezuela
We are going to have to stop being the policemen of the world”… Venezuela
the United States cannot continue to be the policeman of the world. We don’t want to do that”… Venezuela
it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!”… Venezuela


Before being elected president, Trump spoke specifically about Venezuela and Hugo Chávez in brief comments to the Miami Herald, saying: “Their leaders are not very friendly to our leaders. But, of course, our leaders don’t get along with too many people….” On Chávez he said, “He had some feelings, some very strong feelings, and he did represent a lot of people, and he represented a lot of people that had been left behind”. However, even then, Trump made comments that suggested he wanted to become involved in Venezuela’s affairs. His wish has come true, but it’s Venezuela that will have the final word.

Canadian Reporter In Venezuela Contradicts U.S. News Coverage.

 
Uploaded by The Jimmy Dore Show | 17th February, 2019

"U.S. Plot In Venezuela FAILING" Says Caracas Reporter. [Video]


Uploaded by The Jimmy Dore Show | Jan 27, 2019.

The real Venezuela: From Caracas, Prof. Aline Piva explains US coup attempt.


Uploaded by Moderate Rebels | Feb 1, 2019.

What You’re Not Being Told About Venezuela Crisis. w/Abby Martin [Video]


Uploaded by The Jimmy Dore Show | Jun 21, 2018.

Danny Glover on the Conflict over Venezuela. [Video]

 
Uploaded by The Real News Network | Feb 12, 2019.

Venezuela Propaganda Debunked - People Are Against Coup. [Video]

 
Uploaded by The Jimmy Dore Show | 27th January, 2019

George Galloway on Venezuela. [Video]

 
Uploaded by George Galloway | Feb 11, 2019

George Galloway live-streamed this address on 31 January 2019. Hereby the subtitled version. Contact George Galloway on Twitter @georgegalloway or by email: info@georgegalloway.com

The Coup in Venezuela, Explained. [Video]

 
Uploaded by Novara Media | Feb 5, 2019

Fiction + Coercion = Reality: Illegitimacy of the US-led Coup in Venezuela.

Fiction Plus Coercion Makes Reality: The Illegitimacy of the US-led Coup in Venezuela. [Republished]
By Maximilian Forte
Zero Anthropology, 14th February, 2019.

After considering the economic foundation [A War for Oil: The US Economic War on Venezuela - https://zeroanthropology.net/2019/02/12/a-war-for-oil-the-us-economic-war-on-venezuela/] of current US intervention, designed to erase Venezuela’s economic sovereignty, the purpose here is to focus more on the political side of the equation, not that we can neatly divide the politics from the economics of either the intervention or the defence of sovereignty. What we find is a situation where the anti-government opposition inside Venezuela is limited on three fronts:

(a) it has a narrow base of support among the public, and is thus incapable of producing a “popular uprising,” nor does it command the state machinery;

(b) it relies heavily on foreign support, in other words, the opposite of legitimacy in a democracy—having gone the route of seeking foreign intervention, their real foundation is coercion, not authority; and,

(c) in the absence of any real authority, the leadership is suspended in a web of fiction, which means that it spins fictions of its own power and authority.

Also undermining the legitimacy of the opposition is the US, imposing itself as a supreme tribunal that has arrogated to itself the right to decide on the course of Venezuela’s political future. Right now what we are witnessing is not so much an attempted coup (not yet at least), as much as an intended coup.

Since there is little movement on the ground that would seem to promise anything like an impending removal of the Maduro administration by local forces and by peaceful means, this heightens the possibility of both escalating local violence combined with foreign military intervention. This is especially true since, following the Americans, the opposition rejects dialogue with the government. When claims are exposed as fictions that lack substance, the only way to force them into the domain of reality is through violence.

“Maduro Must Go”: The US as the Ultimate Elector in Venezuela

On February 1 in Miami, in a brazen act of bellicosity that violated international law, US Vice President Mike Pence publicly declared that, “Nicolas Maduro must go,” smearing Maduro as “a dictator with no claim to power” (language oddly reminiscent of the domestic opponents of his own boss). More than that, Pence proceeded to directly threaten Venezuela’s government if it should continue to defy US wishes, in language redolent of classic imperialism:
Let’s be clear: this is no time for dialogue. This is time for action. And the time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all…. The United States will continue to assert all diplomatic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy…. But those looking on should know this: All options are on the table…. And Nicolas Maduro would do well not to test the resolve of the United States”.

The resolve of the United States”; a US Vice President deciding on whether a foreign leader has the right to stay in power, regardless of those who voted him into power—these examples clearly establish that the real line of conflict here is between the US and Venezuela, and not between Guaidó and Maduro.

Speaking as an official of a rogue state, John Bolton uttered a ridiculously crass threat against President Maduro, in a display of naked imperialism gone wild:
I wish him [Maduro] a long, quiet retirement on a pretty beach far from Venezuela. And the sooner he takes advantage of that, the sooner he’s likely to have a nice, quiet retirement on a pretty beach rather than being in some other beach area like Guantanamo”.

Interestingly, this is precisely the language of dictatorship: commanding, threatening, abducting, disappearing opponents. The US has a history of not just deposing foreign leaders, but even kidnapping them, when not executing them outright. It is also the speech of a rogue state—no state that respects international law allows its officials to routinely and casually threaten others in this manner. After expressing desires to loot Venezuela’s wealth, they now publicly entertain fantasies of abducting Venezuela’s elected president.

These were not the only times that the Trump administration directly threatened the government of Venezuela with regime change. In July of 2017, then CIA director Mike Pompeo spoke at the Aspen Security Forum about working with Colombia, the Venezuelan opposition, and the CIA in developing “options” for regime change, just a month after Colombia joined NATO as a “Global Partner”. Then on August 5, 2018, an attempted assassination against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took place. Soon after that, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN at the time, went on a tour to Colombia’s border with Venezuela, covered exclusively by Fox News, in which she advocated for the illegal overthrow of Venezuela’s government. Outside of the UN building in New York, US ambassador Nikki Haley chose to violate the UN Charter itself by openly advocating for the overthrow of a foreign government and hinting loudly that it would happen thanks to strong US intervention. On Thursday, September 27, 2018, Haley shouted into a megaphone in front of demonstrators: “We are going to fight for Venezuela and we are going to continue doing it until Maduro is gone!… We need your voices to be loud, and I will tell you, the US voice is going to be loud”.

I will tell you, the US voice is going to be loud,” said Haley in reprising George W. Bush’s threat prior to invading Afghanistan (America’s 18-year tale of “success” in Central Asia). The fact of the matter is that the US never imagined that the removal of Maduro’s party from power could ever happen organically and thanks purely to local dynamics. It was always to be something artificial, a fiction brought to life through American violence. The threat of military intervention, which itself flouts international law, was made in the first months of the Trump administration.

From as early as August of 2017 Trump was already suggesting the possibility of a US military coup to overthrow Venezuela’s government. This was before the elections it would discount were even announced. Then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson repeated the suggestion in February 2018, and said Maduro should leave the country altogether and retire in Cuba, much like Bolton above would later do. (The suggestion that Tillerson was among those “pushing back” against Trump’s move to military conflict with Venezuela, is thus pure fantasy. It’s part of the liberal “resistance” veneration of transnationalist oligarchs like Tillerson as representing one of the “adults in the room”.) Again, even before elections had been called in Venezuela, Trump threatened Venezuela with US military intervention.

Venezuela’s government made it clear that one thing that would never be “discussed” with the US (which wants to discuss nothing) would be Venezuela’s sovereignty, and Maduro announced that the military was ready to fight back against US intervention. As for Trump’s repeated threat that military options are “on the table,” Maduro simply replied: “There will be no war or military intervention”. In the meantime, however, Venezuela is preparing to make any US military escalation as costly as possible to the US—something which several forces in the world have successfully done, starting with Vietnam, and then especially since 2001. In addition, Maduro in a letter to Trump asked if politicians in Washington were ready to send their country’s “sons and daughters to die in an absurd war” (unfortunately, we already know the answer to that question).

However, underlining the illegitimacy of the intended coup, the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans are very far from supporting either Guaidó or the US when it comes to US military intervention and economic sanctions. Even before Trump threw his support behind Guaidó, local polling data from Venezuela showed that 86% of Venezuelans were against any foreign military intervention, and 81% opposed the US’ sanctions. With respect to seeking US intervention, Guaidó represents the 14%. In addition, recently launched was a largely symbolic, political campaign to get 10 million signatures of Venezuelans denouncing US intervention; a large rally came out in support to start the process. Should foreign military intervention happen, done in the name of “helping Venezuelans,” it should be remembered that such intervention has virtually no support in Venezuela itself.

The “Early Elections” Ruse

Call new presidential elections—this has been one of the key commands coming from the Venezuelan opposition’s foreign backers. Before 2019 the command was call early elections. Yet when the US and their Venezuelan force multipliers previously pressed the Venezuelan government to hold early elections—just as their EU counterparts would do again in January 2019—they then turned around and condemned the announcement of early elections. Now once again the demand is for new, early elections: states like Spain instructed the Venezuelan government to declare, within eight days, that new elections would be held, or else Spain and others would recognize Guaidó—an ultimatum on how Venezuela should conduct its domestic politics. Venezuela’s government of course rejected this demand outright.

This then raises a key question: if these outside interests did not accept the last elections, why would they accept the results of the next ones? All previous elections had been widely recognized as free and fair, and it was the same system which produced the opposition’s victory in the now defunct National Assembly. Indeed, as recently as August of 2017, the opposition itself accepted the new Constituent Assembly’s call for gubernatorial elections. It was the same system in which Maduro won his re-election, and would be the same for any new elections. Yet the same governments that oppose Maduro, falsely claim that he “stole” the election—and if he had stolen it, it wasn’t from Guaidó, who did not run as a candidate. Clearly the ultimatum, unacceptable as it was shockingly arrogant, was meant as bait to trigger even further intervention: EU-supervised and EU-designed elections perhaps (and let’s not forget the Haitian elections that were rigged under UN auspices). Those EU states which then officially recognized Guaidó were rightly denounced by Russia for engaging in brazen intervention in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs.

In order to denounce past elections while calling for new ones, the US had to fabricate the myth of illegitimate elections in Venezuela. Thus the Trump administration directly threatened with targeted sanctions a leading opposition candidate, Henri Falcón, who was considering launching a presidential campaign, warning him not to do so. The US’ top diplomat in Venezuela even met with Falcón, to persuade him not to run. Widely reported polls showed that he had a good chance of winning the election too. The Venezuelan opposition was instructed by the US to boycott the election, in order to produce what could then be called a “sham”. Mike Pence thus decided in advance that the elections would be a sham, without a shred of evidence provided. The same argument was made by some of the opposition, that Maduro’s election was illegitimate—an election held using the very same system that won the opposition their own seats. There is no evidence to deny that Maduro’s election followed all of the proper legal procedures, and though the turnout was low, Maduro’s share of eligible voters was higher than that of Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012.

Now here is where myth-making has taken a new turn. Those states which now recognize Guaidó as the president of Venezuela, cannot very well press the demand for new elections on Maduro. To do so would be to continue legitimizing Maduro as the President. So it is now up to Guaidó to call for early elections. Has he done so? After all, if he really believed he was the interim president, with all of the rights and duties of an interim president, then it was his job to call new elections in 30 days. Guaidó has not done so, and this violates the very Constitution which he claims to be defending. The defunct National Assembly has instead invented some new parts of the Constitution—because they simply do not exist in that document—about “technical conditions” that give Guaidó the right to be interim president not just for 30 days, but for a whole year now. Talk about dictatorship. The idea is to deny Maduro and his whole government any legitimacy, an argument that also fails, and it backfired on the opposition with all of its petty, selective, and inventive legalisms about “the Constitution” (which they themselves violate).

The legitimacy of Maduro’s government was rarely respected by his domestic opposition, and almost never by the more powerful extraterritorial opposition represented by US power. And as Maduro clearly pointed out, Venezuela has had no deficit of elections (six occurred in the past 18 months alone, at different levels of government)—so elections themselves are neither the root of the problem, nor can they be a solution.

The Venezuelan government repeated that it was open to holding talks with the opposition, which the opposition continues to publicly refuse. President Maduro also held out the offer of early elections for the legally constituted Constituent Assembly. That offer has also been rejected.


“No Dialogue” Means Violence, No Democracy

Imagine you claim to be interested in defending democracy. Then imagine you reject any dialogue whatsoever with fellow citizens who have views that differ from yours. Are you really interested in democracy then? Imagine you believe yourself to represent the majority, but still the opposing side represents a significant minority, and yet you refuse to deal with the other side. Does that advance democracy?

The US claims that it is seeking peaceful and diplomatic means of securing regime change in Venezuela, a goal which is neither peaceful nor diplomatic. Unable to reconcile this harebrained contradiction, the US inevitably rejects any dialogue with the government of Venezuela, dismissing an offer of mediation by Mexico and Uruguay. This underscores the perverse definition of “diplomacy” that the US has adopted. For successive US regimes, “diplomacy” is merely a default position—it means everything that is not outright “shock and awe”. Saying there can be no dialogue whatsoever, narrows the avenue of peaceful solutions. Moreover, whatever the US seeks, by seeking it in Venezuela its actions can only go against democracy—Venezuelans did not elect the US government, and did not elect to have it involved in their affairs, let alone usurp the authority of Venezuelans.

Guaidó has dutifully echoed the US line in consistently dismissing dialogue, while Maduro has been just as consistent in offering it. Meanwhile, other top opposition leaders in the country—for example, the two former presidential candidates of the two main traditional parties, Claudio Fermín and Eduardo Fernández—have instead favoured “electoral participation and recognition of the legitimacy of the Maduro government”. Not all of the opposition has chosen the avenue of treason that beckons violence.

One thing is certain, this time Venezuela has reached a turning point and there is no going back. The most tragic and extreme steps have been taken, precisely the kinds which should never have been taken. A number of actors are going to have to pay a very high price for their decisions. On the opposition’s side, those who actively involved a foreign imperial power in the domestic affairs of Venezuela, who behave as if it were natural and normal for the US to have a say in Venezuelan politics, and who proceed like they have the full support of US military power authorizing their actions—the price they will need to pay will have to be the maximum one. On the government’s side, those whose decisions and whose many errors of omission and commission have helped to fan the flames of crisis, may find their own future is not assured.

Temir Porras Ponceleón, who served as chief of staff to Nicolás Maduro from 2007 to 2013, and is now a visiting professor at Sciences Po in Paris, has shared a series of important observations and questions about the election issue and the civil war issue, in a hypothetical post-Maduro Venezuela. In a recent interview, he raised these questions:
We can imagine the crisis getting deeper. Probably the government collapsing, but what about the day after? What about the military of Venezuela? What about the divisions within the military? What I am concerned is, to have a stable and democratic country the day after. And that requires not provoking each other, political dialogue and understanding”.

About the opposition, if it came to power, he asks:
Do they have a plan to guarantee that this country remains stable and democratic? The day after, do they guarantee that they will not allow, for instance, the US government or the US troops to enter Venezuela? Do they have a plan to deal with the Venezuelan military?

Then there is the real possibility of a civil war erupting if Maduro leaves or is forced from power:
And what guarantees that the departure of Maduro doesn’t create a civil war, for instance? The reality of Venezuela is that it is a very polarized country. It is totally unrealistic or irresponsible to think or to assume that there are all the guarantees for Venezuela to be in a peaceful situation. In order to be an election, you have to agree on the terms of that election. When will the election be held? Who can be allowed to run for those elections? And that’s exactly the problem—saying there will be elections is assuming that the problem is solved before even addressing it”.

Ponceleón thinks that it is “highly likely” that the situation will escalate into a civil war in Venezuela. On one point at least, we can already address his question: the opposition cannot guarantee a democratic Venezuela, because it has chosen the most undemocratic means available to it: foreign military intervention. It would be useful to remember that one of the principal ways of conceiving democracy, that came out of many formerly colonized nations, was that democracy meant freedom from alien domination. Any time a foreign power exercises its might in determining the affairs of another people, no matter what those people produce cannot be democratic because the context in which they operate itself stands against democracy.

US intervention, by definition, cancels out self-determination and that means democracy is impossible under such circumstances.

Fictions: Delusions of Authority

There is a serious problem with the person who was appointed and announced himself as the “interim president” of Venezuela, Juán Guaidó. The problem might be diagnosed as megalomania—having serious delusions of authority. In just the last three weeks, Guaidó has gone on record with the following positions:


With the possible exception of the third point, there is a definite pattern here. It involves a realty-denial problem, that is prone to spin fictions. It is what one can expect from someone, unknown to the vast majority of Venezuelans and whose party controlled only 14 seats of the 167 in the defunct National Assembly. It is the posture of a person who was not elected to be president, claiming that the elected president is a sham. The only thing authorizing Guaidó’s fabrications is the power of the US standing behind him. From not having dialogue with Venezuelans, to not having a dialogue with reality, the program represented by Guaidó is that of a fiction waiting—wanting—to become reality. The only chance it has of becoming reality is that it has to be forced through, with massive violence. Why? Because it is artificial; because it is not a program that arises from its grounding in facts. It is pure ideology, at its worst; it is the kind of ideological stance that leads one to foolishly engage in comical stunts on the one hand, while begging for war on the other hand.

Fictions: Movement on the Ground

“What’s going on within Venezuela itself?” asks Paul Dobson—“The answer, however, is not much”. With all the media noise about governments backing the opposition’s claim to presidential authority (in a transparent violation of international law), there is little to show for the opposition making any headway inside Venezuela itself. In fact, most of the hum-drum of everyday life continues, with a few isolated protests, and no public disorder—“conspicuously absent are any of the tell-tale signs of a genuine power shift that might indicate that the government is about to fall”. As Dobson observes, “the man whose name 81 percent of Venezuelans didn’t even know one month ago has not managed to spur the country into the sort of popular action at all levels of society which he probably needs to make this attempted coup a reality”. Guaidó’s primary base of power is his foreign backing, primarily that of the US; his only claim to authority is acting as a gatekeeper of foreign aid allegedly smuggled into the country. As a real president, little would be different, having vowed to sell off Venezuela’s oil facilities to foreign private interests. Guaidó’s greatest achievement would be to become Venezuela’s version of Ashraf Ghani—a figurehead, propped up by foreign aid, overseeing a badly divided country. The only way for a fiction of authority to become a reality is through massive force (violence), and then it only becomes a farcical reality whose life will be short.

On Saturday, February 2, Guaidó’s loudly touted opposition protests occurred, passing without changing anything in the country and even receiving minimal international media coverage. Loudly denounced as a “brutal dictatorship,” the government did absolutely nothing to “repress” the demonstrations, and nobody was reported as hurt or killed. At the same time, a pro-government march countered the opposition protest, and according to some reports, was much larger. In fact, footage of the pro-government demonstration was dishonestly used by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto as he spoke of the opposition rally—when the screen behind him showed a huge mass of people wearing red, the governing party’s colour, along with members of militias. The BBC was at least able to tell the two apart. The opposition protesters were said to number in the “tens of thousands,” which falls far short of the millions who attended pro-government rallies in the past, or a number rivalling the opposition that turned out for Maduro on the same day. Guaidó clearly lacked faith in the possibility of a popular uprising materializing, and he thus continued to call for high-level military defections and for US intervention (though some of the so-called “defectors” were revealed to be fakers)—and the US was reportedly making direct contacts to persuade Venezuelan officers to “defect”. The Saturday protests followed from those held earlier, on Wednesday, January 30, which were reported to be very small and largely confined to the traditional opposition stronghold. Guaidó called for new opposition protests to be held on February 12, clearly not confident that any change would happen anytime soon. The protests came and went, without incident, and without any change. So now the opposition invented a new milestone: February 23, when they said they would push to unblock “aid” sent by the US, which would indeed be using such aid to provoke a violent confrontation, which is likely one of the US’ original objectives in sending the “aid” against the wishes of the legitimate government. (Meanwhile even Colombia’s International Red Cross views the “aid” as a US ploy and said it would have no part in distributing it.)

Indicative of Guaidó’s own lack of confidence, which stems from his lack of legitimacy and the opposition’s over-reliance on foreign support, he made the absurd declaration that he was not ruling out “authorizing” US military intervention. Apparently he was usurping power in the US too now. Responding appropriately, US Representative Ro Khanna stated: “Mr. Guaido, you can proclaim yourself leader of Venezuela but you don’t get to authorize US military interventions”. Khanna added that US legislators would authorize no such action. In a further attempt to pretend he has authority, Guaidó then “ordered” Venezuela’s military to let in “aid” sent by the US—with no sign whatsoever that the military intends to “obey” him.

The Question of International Recognition

In North America, most of the media instruct us on the names and/or numbers of countries that have called on Maduro to step down, and which have recognized Guaidó’s interim presidency. They say little or nothing about all of the countries which have not done so; instead, they occasionally select a certain few that have been the loudest in denouncing the intended coup. The fact of the matter, however, is that the overwhelming majority of the United Nations’ member states continue to acknowledge President Maduro as the legal and legitimate head of government and state in Venezuela—they have made no move whatsoever to withdraw that recognition.

Note that the US took its attempt to shore up support for its force multipliers—the opposition “led” by Guaidó—to the UN Security Council, and not the UN General Assembly which would have meant allowing all member states a vote. The proportion of those supporting the US is greater in the UNSC than in the UNGA. Americans, great tellers of tall tales and ardent fans of impression management, believe that “optics matter”—any performer of magic tricks would immediately agree.

The US failed in its effort to get the United Nations Security Council to support its coup initiative of delegitimizing Maduro and recognizing Guaidó. China, Russia, Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa were some of the countries that expressed support for the Maduro government at the UNSC on January 26, and blocked the US from passing its resolution. China was in fact one of the countries that sent an official delegation to Maduro’s inauguration earlier in the month. Venezuela’s foreign minister, also speaking at the UNSC, declared: “The United States is not behind the coup d’état, it is in the vanguard”. He also blasted a European ultimatum demanding new elections: “Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not”. Russia’s position at the UNSC was not just correct, it was absolutely correct: Venezuela’s internal affairs should never have been brought to the Security Council for discussion in the first place. As Russia’s foreign minister explained, Venezuela “does not represent a threat to the international community, but Washington’s actions do”. This has apparently not stopped the US from returning to the UNSC with a proposed resolution asking it to intervene in Venezuela’s domestic politics, by demanding a new presidential election. Meanwhile, Guaidó’s imagination knows no limits when it comes time to assuming authority: he reportedly told RT that the UNSC has endorsed his side and its attempted coup, not the only “fake news” which he tried to manufacture in that interview.

The UN has since said it would support, not the “Lima Group,” but the Montevideo dialogue, of which Caribbean states have been a key source of momentum (also in opposition to the OAS’ head). The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also explicitly condemned any move toward foreign military intervention in Venezuela: “The time for an era of foreign intervention passed long ago”. As for the Lima Group, the main outcome of its Ottawa meeting to discuss ways to screw Venezuela, was essentially to call on the military to engage in a coup—so much for “liberal democracy”. Maduro has rejected all EU intervention and also affirmed his support for the Montevideo dialogue instead. That dialogue, however, had thus far only produced a European-backed resolution which Bolivia opposed. The first meeting thus ended with a non-unanimous statement—the obstacle being the Europeans pressing for new presidential elections.

While about 48 governments have recognized Guaidó (usually not in consultation with their electorates), 141 countries, that is, the vast majority of UN members did not heed the US’ call to recognize him. No wonder the US never took its case to the UN General Assembly, where its defeat would have been even more humiliating, and instructive, than it was at the Security Council. Yet, some of the propagandistic North American media, such as Bloomberg, essentially whited out most of the world in order to claim that “global leaders” have backed Guaidó. The rest simply do not exist on their map. They count as those opposing recognition of Guaidó only those that have openly said they would not do so—dismissing those who also have not offered recognition, but who have stayed quiet on Maduro (which is what actual non-intervention looks like). In addition, Bloomberg’s graphic is suitably small enough that we cannot see more than a dozen Caribbean states that have explicitly rejected foreign intervention and recognition of Guaidó. Bloomberg also fails to question the opposition’s fanciful imagining of Russia, China, and Turkey as being “neutral”—so even those countries’ opposition is rhetorically whitewashed. This is a reality-denial problem. Much better, though not perfect, are Venezuelanalysis’ accurate and up-to-date infographics which demonstrate one basic reality very starkly: the world is mostly divided between the “Global North,” made up mostly of former colonial and imperial powers, and the “Global South,” but even more than that it shows what an increasingly multipolar world looks like.

Among the countries that continue to recognize Maduro are the overwhelming majority of African states (with a single exception), Caribbean states (with a single exception), all of Asia, and the Middle East (with one exception).

As for Turkey, rather than the “neutrality” imagined by Venezuelan opposition spokespersons, we have the words of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apparently addressing the US, he recently asked:
Is Venezuela yours?… How do you oust a person who came to office through elections? How do you hand over presidential [powers] to someone who did not even get elected? Do you know what democracy is?

Earlier, Erdogan in a message to President Maduro exclaimed: “Maduro, brother, stand tall”. Turkey has developed close economic and political ties with Venezuela, and the two leaders have visited each other’s countries in recent years. As for any possible outreach to Russia, the Venezuelan opposition will find itself immediately blocked. Russia does not respect Guaidó as anything other than an instrument of a foreign power, and thus there is no point in holding talks directly with him.

The Venezuelan government promised to review its ties to states that recognized Guaidó, and also promised a symmetrical response to US sanctions and seizures of Venezuela’s assets. Nothing about Maduro suggested he was either intimidated or considered surrendering to US wishes. Maduro insisted he was still interested in good relations with the US, but explicitly not with its government, saying that relations in areas except diplomacy and politics were welcome. What else does one say to those who will not even speak to you?

Lastly, let’s consider those illustrious members of the US Congress: when interviewed on the subject of intervention in Venezuela, they displayed a remarkable degree of not just dishonesty and hypocrisy, but what could also be easily classed as gross intellectual incompetence and even cowardice. It is difficult to locate a better collection of buffoonery in which alcohol was ostensibly absent.

While on the right, figures like Senator Rand Paul stood out in their opposition to US foreign intervention, on the subject of Venezuela it is a small group of particularly bright and courageous young Democrats who have taken the right stand: Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna, and the unflappable Ilhan Omar, who recently interrogated Elliot Abrams. Abrams is the neoconservative Never Trumper whom Trump has appointed the US “special envoy” for Venezuela. Omar’s comments were not only accurate and on target, they were long overdue. Fox News could only express “shock” (eloquence usually has that effect on them), repeatedly calling the exchange between Omar and Abrams “stunning” (because facts are loathsome things)—but without ever offering a single substantive point to counter Omar’s presentation. They did, however, raise the issue of her identity.