Published in l’Humanité on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Juan Guaido, the United States’ liege man, tried to rally the Venezuealn army to his “Operation Freedom”, but he did not succeed. Trump’s military threats are becoming clearer. The head of the presidential guard reiterated his support for President Nicolas Maduro.

The United States and its loyal agents on the southern cone of the American continent have decided to shift up a gear in an attempt to eradicate all those who represent an obstacle to their economic and political strategy. Starting with Venezuela. This is evidenced by the attempt by the self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido to carry out what amounts to a coup d’ Etat on Tuesday. At dawn, in a video shot from the military base in La Carlota, Guaido announced on social networks that he had the support of a group of “brave soldiers” for his “Operation Freedom”. He was surrounded by a small group of men in uniform but also by Leopoldo Lopez, his mentor, himself the author of a coup attempt against Hugo Chavez and who was under house arrest until then. It was a flop, transforming what was supposed to be yesterday’s triumphant march on May 1 into a simple demonstration of opponents, confronted by thousands of supporters of Nicolas Maduro, the country’s president.

The White House aims for regime change

“This is the time! The country’s 24 states are on the same path: there is no turning back. The future belongs to us: the people and the army united to stop the usurpation,” Guaido tweeted Tuesday morning. Thinking he could rally all the barracks, he had the support of only a few soldiers. Demonstrations took place in Caracas (where an armored vehicle rammed into a group of opposition demonstrators and a Loyalist soldier was shot) and other cities across the country, but they were far from the tidal wave expected by the opposition and its supporters in the United States. However, the latter have not spared any effort in recent hours. The Organization of American States (OAS), which Venezuela quit on April 27, has taken up the cause of Guaido. Donald Trump toughened his stance against Havana, threatening the Big Island with a “total embargo” if “Cuban troops and militias” did not immediately cease their military operations in Venezuela. At the same time, his security adviser, John Bolton, said that “key figures” of the Venezuelan regime had been secretly engaged in discussions with the opposition in recent weeks with a view to regime change, thereby giving them an ultimatum. “Your time has come. This is your last chance! ”he said to Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino, Chief of the Presidential Guard Ivan Hernandez and Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno. In response, Padrino, surrounded by his staff, publicly reiterated his support for Maduro. As for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he claimed that the same Maduro had tried to flee to Cuba but was prevented from doing so by the Russians! Hollywood writers only have to take notice!

Finally, the Venezuelan president appeared in great form on national television screens to mock the United States and remind us that he had the support of the highest military authorities. However, it is not clear where the self-proclaimed president is located. Leopoldo Lopez took refuge first at the Chilean embassy and then, finally, at the Spanish embassy, which attests to the failure of the coup.

“The radical opposition in Venezuela is once again using confrontation by force,” Moscow accused, calling for talks to avoid bloodshed. The European Union, for its part, called for “greater restraint”, stressing that “there can only be a political, peaceful and democratic solution”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged “all parties to avoid the use of violence”.

For years, Washington has been trying to bring down chavist power and has done everything in its power to do so. As early as August 2017, Donald Trump had already imposed severe economic sanctions. These had resulted in, inter alia, a restriction on Venezuela’ s access to international financial markets, thus aggravating the country’ s economic crisis. For good measure, he also mentioned a possible military intervention, attempting to poach, without success, Venezuelan military cadres.

Last January, the White House and the Pentagon undoubtedly considered that the arrival of Juan Guaido and his party Voluntad Popular (extreme right) at the head of Parliament (according to an agreement reached between the various opposition parties) was an opportunity not to be missed to turn the situation around once and for all, while neighbouring Brazil passed into the hands of the populist Jair Bolsonaro.

It is easier to understand, after Tuesday’s failed attempt, why Washington implemented an embargo on Sunday that prohibits any American company from buying oil from the public oil company PDVSA or one of its subsidiaries, and any foreign entity from using the American banking system to obtain Venezuelan black gold. Measures aimed at worsening the daily lives of Venezuelans at a time when the country is experiencing serious shortages of medicines and basic necessities. According to Nicolas Maduro, who has just announced the doubling of the minimum wage, economic sanctions have already caused $30 billion in damage to the economy, which derives 96% of its income from oil.

Shamelessly, the United States Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, last week promised “tens of billions of dollars” to boost the country’s economy, “when there will be an open government representing all Venezuelans”. And John Bolton said on Fox News: “Economically speaking, it would make a big difference for the United States if we could see American oil companies investing in Venezuela’s oil potential. ”Yesterday, Mike Pompeo said that “military intervention is possible. If necessary, that is what the United States will do.” This is probably what Trump calls “standing alongside the Venezuelan people”.

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