2 February 2019 — Countercurrents
- Maduro: “I stand firm defending Venezuela’s sovereignty”
- UN rejects Guaido, favors dialogue with Maduro
- Italy rejects Guaido, says Venezuela is a sovereign state
- US rejects Uruguay and Mexico’s initiative for dialogue
- Chavista mobilizations
Vowing to resist imperialism is bold in Venezuela while imperialist intervention in the country is intensifying. Media reports from Europe and the Americas said:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reaffirmed his commitment to defending the people’s sovereignty of the country while visiting members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) carrying out military drills on Friday.
“As commander in chief of the FANB, I stand firm in defense of the people’s sovereignty, of the constitution and the rights of Venezuela,” said Maduro while supervising the drills.
Maduro said the Bolivarian Revolution is facing the greatest “political and economical battle that Venezuela has seen in 200 years,” adding Venezuela will win: “We’re the homeland of Bolivar, who doesn’t capitulate or bow to anyone.”
He also said the FANB are the spine of sovereignty against destabilizing attacks by the US government that generate violence in the country.
Maduro called for the FANB to maintain cohesion, loyalty to the Constitution and absolute unity in the military leadership.
UN rejects Guaido
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognized, Friday, the representation of the Venezuelan Government – led by its Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza – while rejecting the interests of deputy of the National Assembly (AN) Juan Guaido, who unconstitutionally proclaimed himself “president in charge” on January 23.
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, confirmed that Guterres responded to a letter, which was sent by Guaido asking the agency to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela.
Guterres reiterated his concern about the impact of the current Venezuelan crisis on the people.
However, regarding Guaido’s request, the secretary-general requested to communicate with the Government of Venezuela, which is headed by President Maduro.
Dujarric said the Guterres “underscores that recognizing governments is not a function for the Secretary but for member states.”
Guterres called for all relevant parties to commit to an inclusive and credible political dialogue.
Italy rejects Guaido
On Thursday the Italian Government withdrew from the position assumed by the European Parliament and informed that it does not recognize Guaido as “president in charge” of Venezuela.
“Italy does not recognize the self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido,” Italy’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs, Manlio Di Stefano, said.
The senior official explained that Italy is “totally against” that a country or a group of countries “can determine the internal policies” of a sovereign State.
He stressed that “this same mistake was made in Libya, and everyone today recognizes it. We must prevent the same thing happening in Venezuela.”
European Parliament supports Guaido
Violating international law, and adding to the U.S.-driven coup d’état, the European Parliament approved a non-binding statement on Thursday urging European Union governments to consider Guaido as “the only legitimate interim president.” However, the EU as a whole has yet to adopt this position.
US rejects Uruguay and Mexico’s initiative
The US has rejected a new initiative by Uruguay and Mexico to restart dialogue in a bid to de-escalate the political standoff in Venezuela.
A senior US official said that countries would “ultimately see it is in their interests to recognize” Guaido.
On Wednesday, the governments of Mexico and Uruguay announced an international conference set to take place in Montevideo on February 7.
According to a joint statement by both countries, the goal of the conference is to “establish a new dialogue mechanism” that will contribute to “peace and stability” in Venezuela.
“Both governments [Mexico and Uruguay] have adopted a non-interventionist position. […] For that reason they have decided to call for a inclusive dialogue to solve the delicate situation in Venezuela once and for all,” the statement continued, before adding that more than ten countries and international bodies have already signed up.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, who had previously expressed tentative support for the dialogue initiative, announced on Thursday that the EU would lead an international contact group with a 90-day time frame, with the aim of getting Venezuela to hold new elections. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain have signed up from the European side, while from Latin America, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Bolivia have confirmed their participation.
Earlier, Britain, France, Germany and Spain had threatened to recognize Guaido if new elections were not called within eight days. Venezuelan authorities have rejected the eight-day ultimatum from European countries, with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza stating that Caracas would not accept deadlines set by foreign powers.
Meanwhile a report in El Pais on Friday contained stark revelations regarding US influence over Spain’s Venezuela policy. According to the paper, the Trump administration pressured Spain not to move forward with dialogue initiatives and alerted Madrid of Guaido’s self-proclamation in advance.
The report also brought to light disagreements within the Spanish government over recognizing Guaido, with the Foreign Ministry reluctant to take such an unprecedented step while Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was eager to follow Washington’s lead in order to avoid attacks from right-wing Spanish parties. Spain’s eight-day ultimatum came after US Ambassador to Madrid Duke Buchan III met Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and demanded that his government immediately recognize Guaido and abandon any dialogue channel with the Maduro administration.
“We are under a lot of pressure – I’m not going to tell you from whom, but you can imagine – to vote against the creation of this [dialogue] group,” Borrell said in reference to the latest dialogue initiative.
“The US is convinced and has let us know that there is no more room for mediation,” he added.
However, Guaido’s recognition was stalled at both the Organization of American States and the UN Security Council while a host of other countries including China and Russia have expressed their support for the Maduro government and rejected what they termed “regime change efforts.”
Pressure on Venezuela’s economy
US National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that US sanctions would deprive the Venezuelan government of US $7 billion worth in assets and cost around $11 billion in lost export revenue in 2019. Torino Capital Chief Economist Francisco Rodriguez has predicted that Venezuela’s economy will contract by an additional 15 percentage points as a result of the new sanctions, on top of the 11 percent decline already anticipated.
Left Coalition in Europe
A left-wing coalition in Europe has called to attention the mounting pressure from the US and Brazil, which have exploited the already tense relations between the Maduro government and the right-wing opposition in the country to push for a political outcome, which benefits their own agenda for the region.
“The far-right governments of Trump and Bolsonaro offer no hope to Venezuela or to the majority of people in Latin America,” stated a communiqué sent out by 16 high ranking British officials, representatives of 24 labor and political movements, six academics, as well as the journalist and campaigner, Owen Jones; writer and playwright Tariq Ali, rapper Lowkey, poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, and actor Andy de la Tour, among many others, in support of Venezuelan sovereignty to decide their own matters.
Corbyn supports Mexico’s position
Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour leader, expressed dismay at Guaido’s position, siding instead with his friend Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, president of Mexico, and criticized the British foreign secretary for calling for further sanctions.
“The future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans. Jeremy Hunt’s call for more sanctions on Venezuela is wrong. We oppose outside interference in Venezuela, whether from the US or anywhere else.
“There needs to be dialogue and a negotiated settlement to overcome the crisis.”
“This is no time for dialogue”, tells Pence
Mike Pence, the US vice president, has said that Venezuela needs “action” rather than dialogue, rallying Venezuelan exiles in Miami to the cause of Guaido and demanding that President Nicolas Maduro step down.
Pence told a Florida gathering, “all options are on the table”, and warned Maduro “not to test the resolve of the US”.
“This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action,” he said.
Colombia bans singer
Some 200 people are banned from entering Colombia due to their “close relationship” with President Maduro.
The Colombian government has banned Venezuelan singer Omar Enrique, who was due to give a concert at the Barranquilla Carnival, from entering the country reportedly due to engagements with President Maduro administration, official sources said Friday.
Omar Enrique’s manager, however, explained that the Venezuelan artist has a 25-year career, during which he has sung throughout Venezuela.
“Omar Enrique was an artist before Chavez and after him. His life has revolved around his music and he is one of the artists who did not leave the country and continued working in his career… Artists are apolitical, without distinction of race, religion and political parties. He sings to the people and nothing else,” Omar Enrique’s manager said, according to El Heraldo, a Colombian newspaper.
The Colombian list is headed by Maduro and includes the head of the National Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello and the vice president Delcy Rodríguez.
Kruger affirmed that Venezuelan Ronald Ramirez, who arrived by airplane in Barranquilla to take over as the new president of a Venezuelan state petrochemical company, was also not admitted.
Colombia is supporting the US-backed coup against President Maduro.
Guaido gathers small gathering
Guaido’s call for fresh protests on Wednesday could gather only small gatherings in the traditional opposition stronghold of east Caracas.
Guaido headlined a “Plan for the country” (“Plan País”) conference held at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. Several parties of the Venezuelan opposition in late 2018 conceived the plan. The plan include dismantling of state regulations, accessing loans from multilateral bodies such as the IMF and allowing private capital to hold majority stakes in public companies and oil projects.
During his presentation, the opposition lawmaker claimed that members of the Bolivarian Police’s special forces division (FAES) had staked out his wife’s house to intimidate his family. However, FAES officials denied that any such operation had taken place. Independent journalist Roman Camacho reported that four individuals dressed in black identified themselves as FAES upon arriving, and left shortly afterwards.
The Venezuelan Supreme Court, following a request by Attorney General Tarek William Saab, had ordered a freeze of Guaido’s assets and a ban on leaving the country on Monday while probes into his recent actions take place.
Chavista popular movements and political parties have mobilized to reject attempts to overthrow the Maduro government.
Diosdado Cabello, vice-president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), has been leading rallies in a number of different states in recent days
A Chavista demonstration has been called for Saturday along Caracas’ iconic Avenida Bolivar.
Venezuela’s Interior Minister Nestor Reverol also announced on Thursday that security forces had captured several “mercenaries”.
According to Reverol, interrogations revealed links to the Venezuelan right wing and plans to assassinate selected political and military leaders. Some suspects were caught travelling in a vehicle with false FAES insignias. Retired Venezuelan military officials are among those arrested, including a retired colonel wanted for alleged involvement in the August 20 assassination attempt against Maduro.