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Op-Ed: US offers ongoing support for Guaido attempted coup in Venezuela

Guaido assumes the presidency of Venezuela

The election of Maduro in early January of 2019 was regarded as illegitimate by many. Guaido seized the opportunity to declare himself acting president as described in Wikipedia: “After what he and critics of the Maduro administration described as the “illegitimate” inauguration of Maduro on 10 January 2019, Guaidó challenged Maduro’s claim to the presidency.[60] The National Assembly declared Guaidó was willing to assume the responsibilities of the presidency,[61][62] and continued to plan to remove Maduro. Guaidó told the Wall Street Journal that “It’s not about twisting arms, breaking kneecaps, but rather holding out a hand” and offered “amnesty to military officers who joined efforts for a transition in power”.[20] They called for demonstrations on 23 January,[63][64] the 61st anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.[65] Large numbers of demonstrators came out in cities throughout Venezuela and across the world.[65][66] Guaidó declared he was acting president and took the presidential oath at a rally in Caracas.[67]”

The US recognized Guaido as president just minutes after he declared himself president and shortly after Canada which has been active in supporting the coup followed suit. Russia, China, Cuba, and Turkey are among those countries that recognize Maduro. As of June 2019, 54 countries have recognized Guaido as the president of Venezuela.

Maduro accused the US of backing a coup. In December of 2018 Guaido had gone to Washington DC where he met the Organisation of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro. The OAS rejects the presidency of Maduro. On 14 of January he also went to a meeting in Colombia for a meeting of the Lima Group at which Maduro’s presidency was rejected. Canada has been active in the Lima Group to which the US does not belong.

Attempts to force Maduro out

It is now a year since what is in effect a coup attempt by Guaido supported by the US and others began. In spite of large demonstrations, attempts to gain support from the military, buy the populace off with aid and the implementation of sanctions that have ruined the economy, the Maduro regime has managed to survive.

The US uses sanctions and other methods to virtually destroy the economy and make life miserable for Venezuelans. Some sanctions date back to the Obama era but have become more extensive during the Trump administration: “U.S. sanctions have become increasingly aggressive since they were first announced by former US President Barack Obama in 2015. Under pressure from the United States, foreign companies stopped doing business with the country. Citibank closed Venezuela’s foreign accounts.President Donald Trump intensified sanctions in 2017 and this year imposed an oil embargo that blocked the purchase of petroleum from Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA. It also confiscated Venezuela’s US subsidiary CITGO, worth $8 billion. It was a huge blow for Venezuela, which received 90% of government revenue from the oil industry.The U.S. government has also frozen $5.5 billion of Venezuelan funds in international accounts in at least 50 banks and financial institutions. Even if Venezuela could get money abroad, the United States has long blocked international trade by threatening sanctions on foreign companies for doing business with the country.”” The US is willing to try to starve Venezuelans to death and actions that have led to many fleeing the miserable conditions all in order to help bring what it calls democracy to Venezuela. No doubt regime change would bring back US supported international oil companies to Venezuelan oil fields as well.

US pledges continued support for Guaido

Guaido support has weakened dramatically: “By the end of 2019, support for Guaidó dropped, with protests organized by his movement resulting with low participation.[18][19][23][252] Pollster Datanalisis published figures showing that support for Guaidó decreased from 61% in February to 42% in November 2019.[23] According to Jesús Seguías, the head of the Venezuelan analysis firm Datincorp, “For years Washington and the Venezuelan opposition have said that Nicolás Maduro, and before him Hugo Chávez, were weak and about to fall … but it’s clear that’s not the case”.[253] Analyst Carlos Pina stated “The military support to President Maduro remains intact … the opposition will need to rethink its strategy” and that “Guaido has also been very limited in suggesting or proposing a strategy that could change the current [status quo]”.[19]”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insists that the US has not given up on Guaido. Even though he offered no specifics, Pompeo claimed that the US is not done and more efforts to support Guaiido would be coming from the Trump administration.
On his part, Guaido is trying to drum up international support with a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos. It is possible he could meet with President Trump there although nothing has been announced as yet.

The US negative actions against Venezuela have provided an opportunity for countries such as China and Russia to invest in Venezuelan oil and other parts of the economy. Chinese investment may be slowing down partly because of US sanctions but Venezuela is becoming even more dependent on Russia.

The Maduro government appears to frightened of US reaction if it were to jail Guaido for treason as would no doubt happen in most countries. Guaido is subject to a travel ban but feels quite safe it would seem in violating it to fly off to Davos to garner international support for his coup. If he is arrested when he returns as he should be under the law there will be a huge international outcry about the dictatorial action of the Maduro government.

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