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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: venezuela:le scenario du coup d’État etait presque trop parfait

by Cathy Dos Santos

Venezuela: coup d’État scenario too perfect

Translated Tuesday 5 March 2019, by Eoin Downey

National Assembly president aims to usurp executive power with backing from U.S and South America’s right-wing Governments.

How does a relatively unknown political figure receive global recognition after proclaiming himself Venezuelan President? There will be an endless supply of content for historians and political commentators to explore when examining the current events taking place in oil production, with some seeing a coup d’état as a violent solution. They will however be at a loss to explain the paroxysms with which Latin America is all too familiar since the Putsches in Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil and now Venezuela. January 23rd 2019 may have shown us the worst one yet. This is the day when Juan Guiado, the President of the National Assembly, illegally declared himself as Venezuelan head of state.

Does anyone really believe that Venezuela’s fragmented opposition could just take over without support from Washington?Admittedly, opposition supporters did protest en masse today: just like the tens of thousands of supporters of the socialist president Nicolas Maduro did on the anniversary of the Jimenez dictatorship, which fell in 1958. The timing speaks for itself.

Just four minutes after Guido’s announcement of a replacement government, the United States hurried to designate him as the “legitimate” president. Three minutes later, it was the turn of the Luis Almagro, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The made-to-measure body was created to defend American interests in the region, giving Guiado their blessing. Some may recall that Almagro was expelled from Uruguay’s Broad Front (centre-left) due to his repeated attacks on Venezuelan sovereignty. U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and then Donald Trump set the tone demanding that Nicolas Maduro abandon his post in the name of “democracy”

The line has been crossed

There has been a reactionary wave in Latin America. Unsurprisingly, the right-wing governments (Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and Guatemala) have immediately aligned themselves. As for the E.U, the European Commission President Donald Tusk, professed that “all of Europe” are united in “supporting democratic forces”.Tusk tweeted; ”Unlike Maduro, the parliamentary assembly understands that Juan Guaido has a democratic mandate of Venezuelan citizens”. Brussels is following in the footsteps of the Lima Group (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru). On January 4th, the group announced, in a declaration of war, that it would not recognise the new mandate of Nicolas Maduro, whose inauguration took place on January 10th.

The group, which the U.S is not a part of but participates via video conference, gave its “full recognition to the elected national assembly on December 6th, 2015”. This was an extraordinary coincidence as Juan Guiado was installed as president of the assembly on the previous day despite being majorly overlooked by La Masa Unidad Democratica (MUD), whose right-wing parties collapsed due to internal divisions on a strategy to remove the United Socialist Party (Psuv) from power in Venezuela. What is significant is whether or not this parliament was declared in contempt in March 2017, for having overstepped judicial and electoral powers which ordered a new election in the wake of the fraudulent election of three MPs. Following the Lima Group’s demand that Maduro “transfer executive power to the national assembly”, an emboldened Juan Guiado asked the army to leave Maduro’s side, even offering an amnesty to potential deserters.

In Paris, Emmanuel Macron followed suit. He tweeted in Spanish and French; “Following the illegitimate election of Nicolas Maduro in May 2018, Europe supports the restoration of democracy”. It is hard to believe that the Quai d’Orsay is not aware of events from 2017, including murderous violence initiated by the MUD. This unfortunate episode paved the way for dialogue to begin between the Chavist government and the opposition. More than 150 official and secret meetings have taken place to find a peaceful solution to the economic and political crisis.

Thanks to mediation from Dominican President Danilo Medina and former Spanish Prime Minister José Rodríguez Zapatero, a pre-agreement was reached in December 2017, which included a general election. Everything was ready to be signed until the former right-wing President of the National Assembly Julio Borges withdrew due to pressure from the now former U.S Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had begun a tour in Latin America. Todd Robinson, a former deputy to the U.S ambassador in Caracas, ordered Henry Ramos Allup, a right-wing precandidate for the May 20th 2018 general election, to withdraw to discredit the election’s outcome.

Despite these orders, three opposition parties took part in the election, in which 46.07% of the population voted. This low turnout is not unusual considering the public’s general exasperation, an economy in tatters and horrific inflation rates. Does this justify ousting Maduro who received more than 60% of the votes?Or rather, approval from 30.45% of registered voters. The chancellery would have to think twice because the right-wing Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was elected with support from 26.5% of the electorate. Whereas Mauricio Macri of Argentina was elected with 26.8% whilst the man in the white house only received 27.2%. As for Macron, his 18.19% from the first ballot is hardly worth bragging about.

Excluding some good intentions from the U.N, diplomacy seems to be tripping up in Washington’s interventionist strategy. Since 1999, Hugo Chavez’s first year in power, the U.S has multiplied its destabilisation campaigns in Venezuela, which is a country of unfathomable natural resources. Nicolas Maduro, the country’s elected president, ordered U.S diplomats to leave Venezuela. The U.S State Department fruitlessly retorted; ”The United States does not recognise the regime of Maduro(...) (they) do not consider that former President Nicolas Maduro has the legal authority to terminate diplomatic relations”. The department intends to manage their relations “with the government of the interim-president Guiado”.

“We never betray the will of the people. We are ratifying our absolute loyalty to the constitution and our commander in chief, Nicolas Maduro!” assured the Commanding General of the Bolivarian army, Jesus Suarez Chourio.

Apart from China and Russia, Maduro has received regional support from Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Uruguay and Mexico, who refused to sign the shared declaration of the Lima Group in the name of non-interference in the internal affairs of a foreign country. Moscow declared, “The duality of power, both intentional and well-planned (...) is a direct path towards chaos and the destruction of the bedrock of the Venezuelan state”. It also condemned “those who push society towards the abyss of a bloody conflict”.

French petrol giant Total have been in the Venezuelan territory for half a century. From Davos, Patrick Pouyanné (CEO of Total) has estimated that current events are “probably very good news for the Venezuelan people”, alluding to “security for (its) staff, difficulty in accessing water and electricity”......

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