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Global Left Midweek - Venezuela Coup Threat

Reports on the threatened coup in Venezuela have mostly overlooked the gross belligerence of the Trump administration. Global Left Midweek brings you news and opinion from the left press, including translations from Spanish by Portside.

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, AFP
  1. International Declaration: Against Imperial Intervention, For a Democratic Solution
  2. The US Continues International Offensive
  3. Guaidó and the Genuflecting Governments
  4. Venezuela at Another Crossroads
  5. A Failed Coup
  6. American Left Divides Over Trump’s Venezuela Intervention

Stop the Escalation of the Political Conflict in Venezuela

Against Imperial Intervention, For a Democratic Solution From and For the People

See original Spanish text and signatories at Rebelión (Madrid)
 

International Declaration

Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented crisis, which has been gradually worsening in recent years, to the point of dramatically affecting all aspects of the life of a nation. The collapse of public services, the collapse of the oil industry and the extraordinary fall of GDP, hyperinflation, the vertiginous increase of poverty, the migration of millions of people define this crisis, among other factors. Political unrest has escalated to very dangerous levels, undermining the rule of law, the framework of social coexistence and the health of institutions. The country's population is in a state of absolute vulnerability.

The Government of Nicolás Maduro has advanced towards authoritarianism, suppressing de facto numerous forms of popular participation that had been established since the beginning of the Bolivarian process. Repression has increased in the face of numerous protests and demonstrations of social discontent; he has hijacked the electoral route as a collective decision-making mechanism and has shown himself intransigent in his goal of holding on to power at any cost; and has ruled outside the Constitution, applying a permanent state of exception. Meanwhile, progress is being made in the deepening of extractivism and in the application of economic adjustment policies that favor transnational corporations, and have a negative impact on society and nature.

In parallel, the extremist sectors of the opposition bloc that managed to lead different mobilizations, have prompted several calls for a forced and radical departure from the Maduro government (in 2014 and 2017), which has generated serious violent confrontations and attacks on infrastructure. This has contributed to the strangulation of the daily life of millions of people, and to a severe affectation to the frameworks of peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, within the framework of a boom and alignment of the rights in Latin America, foreign intervention intensified, mainly from the Government of the United States, which since 2015 has assumed a much more aggressive position with Venezuela, through Executive Orders , threatening statements, creation of regional and international lobbies against the Government of Maduro and economic sanctions that impacted the national economy. Other international actors such as China and Russia have significantly influenced the course of events from their own expansionist interests and economic and energy appetites, configuring an extremely tense geopolitical situation.

The self-proclamation of the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as 'interim president' of Venezuela to head a transitional government, on January 23, 2019, has unleashed a new escalation of the crisis. This attempt to create a parallel State in the country found a quick recognition of the government of the United States, as well as other allied countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, among others.

The creation of a parallel State centered on the National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Justice in exile, supported by the US and the so-called Lima Group, opens the stage for the deepening of the crisis and the unleashing of an internal armed conflict, a Civil war with international participation. A devastating scenario for the population and for the Venezuelan Republic, which could be dismembered and be preyed upon by different international interests, as has happened in other regions of the world as a result of recent imperialist interventions.

The aggressive pressure of the Government of the United States, as well as the diplomatic confrontations between it and the Venezuelan Government, create very dangerous situations.

This situation no longer represents only a threat to the possibility of democracy, but to the lives of millions of Venezuelans and to stability in the region. In an armed confrontation, the people are affected the most, and even more so in the current situation in Venezuela, where the population already lives in great precariousness and violence in the context of territorial disputes.

In this sense, we the undersigned state,

· We reject the authoritarianism of the Government of Maduro, as well as the government repression in the face of growing protests throughout the country, for food, transportation, health, political participation, public services, living wages, among others. The Venezuelan people, who suffer the enormous precariousness and the current repression, have the right to protest without being criminalized for it.

· We reject the self-proclamation of Juan Guaidó and the creation of a parallel State in the country, which will only bring more conflict and does not solve the main problems facing the country.

· We repudiate any anti-democratic political shortcut that does not pay tribute to a peaceful solution decided by the people.

· We reject US interventionism, as well as any other form of foreign interference. Venezuela must not become an international battlefield. It is the Venezuelan people who must decide their destiny. We invite the peoples to support and stand by them in this regard.

· We urgently call for the convergence of political actors and social organizations to join forces in order to stop the escalation of the political conflict in Venezuela.

· We urge all to promote dialogue scenarios and find solutions in which the Venezuelan people can decide, democratically and from below, their next destination; to resume with the processes of democratization that the Bolivarian revolution had built in its beginnings. The fact that the Organization of American States (OAS) has not obtained the necessary votes to support the proclamation of Guaidó gives indications that there is still room for an international dialogue.

· We ask that the solution begins and is founded on the principles of the Constitution of the Republic. It is essential to reconstruct the social, political and institutional frameworks for understanding.

- We support the proposals from Venezuela, negotiating departures, either by way of meditation offered by the Governments of Uruguay and Mexico, and / or by holding a binding consultative referendum through which the Venezuelan people decide about the call for general elections.

· We invite national political actors to promote channels for an exit from the economic crisis that is suffocating the Venezuelan people. These channels should help to alleviate the basic needs of the population and boost the resurgence of an economy to enables the development of life and social welfare.

The way out of the deep crisis that Venezuelan society is going through must be peaceful, constitutional and restore sovereignty to the Venezuelan people.

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The US Continues International Offensive (excerpted)

Aram Aharonian / Estrategia.la (Montevideo)

Donald Trump, trapped in his own political crisis caused by multiple investigations of corruption, collusion with foreign interests and obstruction of justice that could call his legitimacy into question, intervened in the crisis in Venezuela through a plan developed in recent weeks with allied governments and the Venezuelan opposition, coordinated at the highest levels in Washington.

But while the coup escalation continues and Trump had to give up his bid for 5.7 million dollars to build "his" wall on the southern border with Mexico, Venezuela and the US will establish an Interest Office in each capital after the rupture of the bilateral relations, which may deal with immigration procedures and other issues of bilateral interest in compliance with international law.

With a view to this objective, Venezuela has authorized the permanence of remaining personnel of each mission, who during the agreed period (30 days) will continue to be protected by diplomatic prerogatives.

As a coup d'etat, two political events that occurred almost simultaneously - evidently previously agreed by their determining factors - prevent us from knowing which could be first, [would-be president] Guaidó's self-declaration or the guarantees of immediate recognition offered by U.S.

"Whether it is a new type of coup experienced by the US or a coup in development, what is also true is that it is a chucuto (incomplete) coup, since they failed to overthrow the legitimate and constitutional government of Maduro until 2025," says the director of (Caracas daily) Últimas Noticias, Eleazar Díaz Rangel.

If the agreement is not reached within the peremptory period of thirty days, both missions will cease activities and both States will proceed to designate the entity that each one will choose to entrust their respective interests, (then) the remaining personnel must leave the territory of each country within the following seventy-two hours after the expiration of said period.

Venezuela is experiencing times of uncertainty but also of outrage. Despite the calls and attempts at dialogue, in the short term this strategy is defeated. The virtual reality shown by the large cartelized hegemonic media (large marches, resistance to the government) is far from reality TV. The confrontation seems to have leaped to a delicate phase of violence (still contained), both for internal reasons and from external interference.

In such serious moments, no one can be indifferent, or practice passive indignation from a [vantage point of] critical superiority, or evade or deny their political responsibility, or the consequences of their actions, says sociologist Maryclean Stelling. The strategy of opposition political sectors that accept that "there is no alternative," irresponsibly betting on violence promoted from abroad is very serious; endorsing a coup d'état, promoting a civil war, longing for an invasion.

But it is also equally dangerous to comfortably dwell in the culture of indifference in relation to the public, and to make the banalization of politics a law of life or survival, based on contempt for the other and the supposed "losers." The enemy is not necessarily external or typed as the political adversary. The enemy is also at home and this has led to a deterioration in legitimacy, credibility, hope and confidence, adds the prestigious sociologist.

The crisis intentionally crosses national boundaries and reaches geopolitical dimensions, complicating the internal situation, leaving the feeling that it was left in the hands of foreign powers and not of Venezuelans to solve.

The Pompeo-Abrams Plan

To continue with this plan against the constitutional government of Caracas, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appointed as emissary a veteran of interventionism to restore democracy: Elliot Abrams, one of the central figures of the scandal known as Iran- contra during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, an official accused of hiding information from Congress of that illegal initiative to transfer funds from secret sales of arms to the contras in Nicaragua. (He received a presidential pardon.)

Abrams was also key in the interventionist policy of support to the regimes of El Salvador and Guatemala and their death squads, justifying or denying serious violations of human rights. Years later he held high foreign relations positions as an advisor to George W. Bush. During that period he knew and sent messages of support for the attempted coup against Hugo Chávez in 2002, the Observer reported that year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and other countries, denounced US policy towards Venezuela as so destructive that claims against it are obvious.... The calls for an uprising are open and public. They are unacceptable actions that undermine the principles of the UN Charter.

AP narrates the "epic" of the cowboy Guaidó, who traveled in mid-December "silently" to Washington, Colombia and Brazil - "he slipped across the border illegally into Colombia" - to inform officials on the strategy of the opposition, of mass demonstrations to coincide with the expected oath of Maduro for a second term on January 10, according to the former mayor of Caracas (escaped and exiled) Antonio Ledezma.

Long sessions of encrypted text messages became the norm, said Ledesma, a routine that was used to communicate with the political mentor of Guaidó,  Leopoldo López (under house arrest, accused of being the mastermind of several incidents of street terrorism of 2014).

"This is the first time in at least five years that the opposition has demonstrated its ability to unite in some meaningful way," said a senior Canadian official to the AP, who does not reveal his source (if any). The decision to confront Maduro directly was only possible thanks to the strong support of the Trump administration, which led a chorus of mostly conservative Latin American governments that immediately recognized Guaidó.

"Trump personally has caused a lot of this," said Fernando Cutz, former senior national security advisor in Latin America to both President Barack Obama and Trump and now to the Cohen Group, a consulting firm in Washington. "Literally, in every interaction he has had with Latin American leaders since taking office, he mentions Venezuela. That has forced many hands. "

Read the full report in Spanish here.

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Guaidó and the Genuflecting Governments (excerpted)

Aram Aharonian / Estrategio.la

The self-proclamation of the opposition Juan Guaidó as president in charge of Venezuela and his immediate recognition (by tweet) by the government of Donald Trump and other countries aligned with the policies of Washington, constitutes the beginning of a greater interference, aimed at provoking a confrontation of large scale among Venezuelans.

The government of Donald Trump serves as a smokescreen to make invisible the closure of the administration that has already served one month and left without salaries more than 800 thousand officials (Trump blackmails Congress to grant him the financing for his wall with Mexico) , and also as an excuse to appropriate Venezuelan oil.

The threads of a transitional government remain in the hands of someone who until January 5 was unknown, and assumed the presidency of the National Assembly by the chance of rotating parties. From where will this virtual president govern? Washington?

The US interventionist adventure was undoubtedly coordinated (or imposed) on governments totally aligned and dependent on Washington, such as those of Colombia, Brazil (two neighbors who already threatened to send troops to the border), and Argentina.

"We do not want a Bolivarian America as there was recently in Brazil with previous governments (...) The left will not prevail in this region, which is very good in my opinion, not only for South America, but also for the world," Brazilian ultra-rightist Jair Bolsonaro said at the Davos Forum.

To these complicit attitudes are added other threads, such as the positions of the European Union and of Mexico and Uruguay, and another hundred nations. The Mexican Foreign Ministry, in a joint action with Uruguay, exhorted the parties in dispute and the international community to reduce tensions, to avoid a scald of violence that could aggravate the situation and find a peaceful and democratic solution to the complex Venezuelan panorama. undertake a new process of inclusive and credible negotiation, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights.

It's Oil

Donald Trump's decision to recognize Guaidó may take away the assets of Venezuela in that country from the legitimate government of Maduro, and mean that the payment for the oil that could be exported would not be collected by PDVSA, say opposition economists Francisco Rodríguez and Luis Oliveros.

The control of Citgo, the company that the state oil company PDVSA has in the US, could pass into the hands of Guaidó, so Petróleos de Venezuela would have to look for where to place the crude it processes in its refineries in the US.Today, the USA is the best customer that PDVSA has.

Also, the Trump government could impose new sanctions, through a series of potential measures, including the restriction of Venezuelan oil imports or even a total ban.

Brothers of Blood

During the last months, beyond the formal consultations, the intelligence and security services of (the so-called secret diplomacy) of the US, Israel, Brazil and Argentina, coordinated the ways to fracture the Venezuelan government, through a concerted movement with the Lima Group. The goal was to force a transition that was paralyzed by the absence of an opposition leader that could face the government and erode its military front.

The plan was entrusted by Trump to Mauricio Clavier (of Cuban origin), member of the Security Council of the White House. Guaidó was the missing gear: son of the military, articulate, studied in Washington and belonging to a party (Popular Will) that in 2014 and 2017 proved to have the capacity to impose street terror and conduct an offensive against Maduro.

Today Maduro is studying how to respond to a domestic scenario that offers few variables: if he stops Guaidó bid, Trump can move his troops to Caracas. And if he leaves it open, he will acknowledge that he no longer controls all the variables of government and that his political destiny is within striking range of a military coup.

Meanwhile, the Lima Group, composed of governments aligned with Washington, is preparing a new diplomatic offensive to avoid a civil war boosted by the regional interests of the United States, China and Russia.

But the American plan was not completed, for now. Macri recognized Guaidó as interim president, but did not break relations with Venezuela, advised by the Foreign Ministry, and therefore continues to recognize Maduro. The strategy consists in maintaining the status quo (two presidents) and achieving that the military front breaks down and that it agrees to support a transition headed by Guaidó and endorsed by Trump, Bolsonaro and Argentina's Mauricio Macri.

Trump's Smokescreen 

The American president has a formidable internal political problem and seeks a smokescreen to hide his serious domestic crisis and, then, a low intensity war in Venezuela, would be ideal for Trump's diplomatic logic. Macri and Bolsonaro assume these intentions and have already reiterated that they will not support a military solution headed by the Pentagon.

No military faction marches on the Miraflores Palace to end 20 years of Bolivarianism. The truth is that there is hardly a single Latin American president who openly supports a coup against Maduro led by American Marines with express or secret orders from the Pentagon and the White House.

What Next?

Chavismo is faced with the question of how to confront this national and international advance, which seeks to break the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, promote conflict zones on the border to justify force actions - the Colombia factor is central - to collapse the economy, and push the population to civil confrontations.

Along with that there is a need not to fall for the provocations of the right that, unlike 2017, has begun to bring the conflict to the popular neighborhoods since the beginning of the escalation. It is expected a display of violence that will touch different points of the territory, an armed siege on towns and neighborhoods, presented as peaceful, via rumors through social networks.

As for the National Assembly, it has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Justice, but how to react to the declaration of the parallel government that amounts to a declaration of war? Venezuela has entered a phase that does not seem to have a point of return. The plan announced by Guaidó, directed from the United States, can only materialize through violence.

Can the right maintain a conflict of these characteristics for a long time at the national level? 2017 has shown that prolonged violence can lose legitimacy and isolate a coup. It is the third violent assault in five years and they think they can impose themselves with international support. It is the search for a Pinochet that inclines the armed forces to coup and repression.

We must not forget the wear and tear caused by the serious economic and social crisis, which Maduro has not been able to solve or mitigate. But you can not underestimate a Chavista people. To all this, what will we hear from the Holy Father who lives in Rome?

Read the full report in Spanish here.

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Venezuela at Another Crossroads

Rebecca Hanson and Tim Gill / NACLA Report (New York)

The largest elephant in the room is the prospect of U.S. military intervention. 

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A Failed Coup

Vijay Prashad / The Hindu (Chennai)

The country was once the heartbeat of leftist assertion. But with change in the Americas, matters are now complex.

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American Left Divides Over Trump’s Venezuela Intervention

Marina Catucci / Il Manifesto Global (Rome)

Only the Democratic Socialists of America put out an explicit statement condemning Trump’s move.