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Trump’s Efforts to Oust Maduro Are Illegal

The U.S. "national security state" lost its influence in Latin America during the 21st century, and want it back

Feb 02


If Russia, China and North Korea decided to recognize Nancy Pelosi as the president of the United States, would Americans go along with that?

But Trump, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton all think that the United States should be able to choose a new president for Venezuela. So does "ouster in chief" – as the New York Times recently described him – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

And this sordid bunch has just recruited Elliot Abrams, who many believe should have been convicted as a war criminal in the 1980s, to help make their dream come true. How could this go wrong?

Well the United States do have some 21st century experience with U.S.-sponsored "regime change" and it has ranged from murderous to horrific. 

Iraq, Syria, Libya, Honduras – all have led to a lot of killing and suffering, mostly of civilians including children.

Evidence has since come to light to show that the White House and local hard-right groups had been planning it well in advance, and that the coup was discussed with numerous governments in the region, including Brazil and Colombia.

The objective? Remove the elected president Nicolas Maduro and replace him with Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself "interim president" on January 23 and promises to be more sympathetic to US interests in the region.

Since, patriotic and revolutionary forces in Venezuela have been mobilising to firstly defend national sovereignty and the country's right to self-determination in the face of the illegal imperialist intervention, but also to prepare themselves for future battles. Mainstream media, which frequently loops images of opposition supporters, often overlooks such groups and activites.

Many of the migrants fleeing Honduras in the caravans that Trump has recently demonized and manipulated politically were escaping from misery caused by the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup in that country.

Not to mention the much larger wave of migrants upending European politics, most of them escaping from the mess that the U.S. government created with its regime change wars in the Middle East.

We can put aside the fanciful notion that the Trump regime change operation in Venezuela has something to do with promoting democracy. Trump is still good buddies with MBS in Saudi Arabia – that's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman or Mister Bone Saw, as he was called after his underlings killed and chopped up a Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident.

But President Nicolas Maduro has to go, they say. So Juan Guaido, a little-known Venezuelan congressman, anointed himself after a phone call from Mike Pence the night before. What do the Trump administration and its allies want in Venezuela, besides the world's largest oil reserves for American oil companies?

Mostly they want power in the region, where just a few years ago left governments who were quite friendly with Venezuela presided over the majority of the region. The U.S. "national security state" lost a lot of influence in Latin America during the first decade or so of the 21st century, and now they are taking it back.

To be sure, a large majority of Venezuelans want a new government, and there are good reasons that they would, but they want  the constitution to be respected.

The economy has shrunk by a record 50 percent in the last five years, and inflation is over a million percent annually.

It's a record-breaking depression combined with hyperinflation, and it's mostly the fault of the current government. But the U.S. has imposed harsh sanctions to make that depression worse and make it nearly impossible to fix the hyperinflation.

These sanctions, which are illegal under international and probably U.S. law, have killed many Venezuelans by worsening the scarcities of life-saving medicines. New sanctions announced this week will take more billions of dollars of revenue and assets from the government, severely deepening the depression. More Venezuelans will die and others will flee the country, exacerbating the Venezuelan refugee crisis.

A worse scenario may unfold if the regime change operation pushes Venezuela, which is still a politically polarized country, into civil war. Isn't it time we stopped trying to choose other people's governments and focused on trying to clean up our own mess at home?

In the mean time, the self-proclaimed “interim president” Juan Guaido named a number of “diplomatic representatives” to those countries which have recognised him during the past week.

Fellow high-profile opposition members Julio Borges and Carlos Vecchio were designated as Guaido’s representatives before the Lima Group and Washington respectively. Both have been associated with violent attempts against the Maduro government in recent years, with Borges implicated by authorities in the August drone terrorist attack and Vecchio having fled charges including arson and instigation of violence in 2014. Elisa Trotta was stationed in Argentina, Orlando Viera in Canada, Humberto Berti in Colombia, and Rene de Sola in Ecuador.

Following the appointments, US Vice President Mike Pence held an hour-long meeting with Vecchio and Borges in Washington, after which another call for the Venezuelan armed forces to rebel the Maduro government was made. Despite the naming of “diplomatic representatives” by the National Assembly president, the international skirmishes surrounding Guaido’s recognition as Venezuela’s head of state have continued.

New Zealand announced its refusal to go along with Australia and other western countries in recognising Guaido and reaffirmed it’s backing of President Maduro, while despite repeated appeals by the Venezuelan opposition, Pope Francis likewise refused to recognise the opposition leader, warning of his fears of “bloodshed.”

Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez revealed that EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini called him Monday to discuss the possibility of Uruguay hosting an international dialogue summit to resolve the political crisis.

Uruguay’s reported that “According to the President, Mogherini told him that ‘it is certain’ that Europe will not have the necessary majority to recognise Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.”

Meanwhile, pressure is growing on Guaido in Venezuela, with the country's Supreme Court issuing a travel restriction on the National Assembly Deputy following a request from Attorney General Tarek William Saab, as well as ordering the freezing of his local bank accounts whilst an investigation continues into his recent actions.