DC Venezuela

Imperialist intervention in Venezuela is being followed by further developments. The imperialists are not having easy days. However, the imperialists and their Venezuelan collaborators are continuing with acts of provocation and belligerency while Nicolas Maduro, the constitutionally elected president of Venezuela, is extending moves for conciliation and peace. Following is the update based on media reports:

Maduro’s offer of dialogue stands

President Nicolas Maduro still hopes to establish communication and dialogue with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza told the UN Security Council on Saturday.

“It is our intention to establish communication and dialogue with the government of President Trump, that offer stands and is still on the table. That is what we have sought to do since the very first day of office,” Arreaza said in UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela requested by the U.S.

Arreaza labeled remarks by the US and its allies as “interventionist” “arrogant” and “artificial.”

These remarks came after Maduro on Saturday rejected the ultimatum to call elections and said opposition leader Juan Guaido had violated the country’s constitution by declaring himself as leader.

“What we have been saying from the first day of the revolution is that we are willing to sit down with our detractors, our political adversaries and, on the basis of the constitution, reach the necessary political accords,” said Arreaza. This statement reiterates president Maduro’s call for dialogue both with the opposition and also with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Arreaza repudiated the EU and said its declaration put them in the same camp as the US-backed coup that has been in progress, most forcefully since Jan. 23, but  which has been ongoing for years, since the Hugo Chavez administration:

“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela expresses its most forceful rejection of the declaration by the European Union of Jan. 26, through which it has demonstrated it’s signing on to the coup d’etat orchestrated by the United States government, and which has the intent of giving an ultimatum to the Venezuelan state, which is befitting of the old colonial powers it represents.”

He also accused them of helping create a dangerous situation in Venezuela by joining the United States and its allies in propping up an opposition that it would install as a puppet government, saying: “Venezuela laments that the European Union didn’t have the courage to withstand pressure from the United States, and has consequently decided to join it’s chorus of dependent satellites. We call for them to drop their recalcitrance and adopt instead a balanced and respectful position that doesn’t contribute to the damage of the constitutional order and violence.”

Eight days’ ultimatum

On Saturday, France, Germany and Spain announced their readiness to recognize the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela – unless the country holds snap presidential elections within eight days.

All of Europe Kneeling at Trump’s Feet: Maduro

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday rejected an international ultimatum to call elections within eight days and said opposition leader Juan Guaido had violated the country’s constitution by declaring himself leader.

“Europe has an insolent position, unsustainable, unpresentable. And it should withdraw its ultimatum. No one gives us ultimatums,” said President Maduro, in an interview with CNN Turk shot on Saturday and aired on Sunday, of European countries join the interventionist policy of the United States and its right-wing allies in Latin America.

“If they want to leave Venezuela, they should all go, and now. Venezuela will continue its path, fortunately, we don’t depend on Europe. And those arrogant, overbearing attitudes, looking down on us, because we are ‘sudacas’ (derogatory term for South Americans), inferior to them.”

He went on slam the leaders of Europe as “sycophants, kneeling behind the policies of Donald Trump. All of Europe is kneeling at the feet of Donald Trump, it’s as simple as that, and especially over Venezuela.”

“Now, I am not the organ of justice in the country. I am not the national attorney general. It will be up to the attorney general’s office, the civilian power, the main court of justice, the judicial power, to decide the steps to safeguard the constitution. And we will wait. These are matters that will sort themselves out according to justice.”

Maduro said he was open to dialogue and that meeting U.S. President Donald Trump was “improbable” but “not impossible.”

Simultaneously, the Venezuelan president said: “We will continue denouncing US lies, and I will continue to encourage national dialogue because I am up for a dialogue with all the political opposition, with the opposition media. I think dialogue should prevail.”

Maduro has called U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo “a warlord” who speaks with “a lot of despair and hate” in an interview with CNN-Turk on Saturday after the U.S. secretary spoke.

Hawk in Trump’s Venezuela team

Elliott Abrams, who oversaw Middle East policy in US President George W. Bush’s White House, and a hawk, has been included in the Trump team’s point person on Venezuela. Pompeo made the announcement.

Abrams pleaded guilty (and was later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress about the Reagan administration’s support for rebels seeking to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua.

In 2017, Abrams took issue with Trump’s White House stating that it was not seeking regime change in North Korea. “Why ever not?” Abrams wrote. Though he did not advocate invading, he wrote: “This is generally agreed to be the worst regime in the world. … OF COURSE we want a different regime there. The same goes for other countries ruled by horrendous tyrannies, such as Iran and Venezuela.”

The appointment is an attempt by the US to introduce a direct control of Venezuela as a “future regional vassal,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

Many US journalists and observers – even those supportive of regime change in Venezuela such as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes – were appalled by the news as well, recalling the former diplomat’s dark history in Latin America.

As the Reagan administration’s assistant secretary of state for human rights in the 1980s, Abrams supported the US-backed dictators in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in their campaigns of repression, including death squads. He was also involved in working with Iran to arming the US-backed rebels in Nicaragua, the infamous Iran-Contra scandal.

Abrams was eventually convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra, but was pardoned right away by President George H.W. Bush. In the 1990s, Abrams became a founding member of the Project for a New American Century, a hawkish neoconservative think-tank.

He returned to the corridors of power in 2001, as a director on the National Security Council for President George W. Bush. He played a key role in the 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez, and was one of the architects of the 2003 Iraq war.

In February 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner wanted to bring Abrams back to the State Department as deputy secretary, but Trump reportedly vetoed the proposal after reading what Abrams wrote about him during the 2016 presidential campaign, as part of the NeverTrump conservative camp.

Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “The naming of Elliot Abrams as Special Envoy on Venezuela is great news. He is a tough & experienced foreign policy expert with a long history of supporting democracy, liberty & the national interest of the United States.”

Israel and Australia recognize the self-proclaimed president

Israel has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement Sunday saying Israel was joining “the United States, Canada, countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela.”

However, unlike many of those who denounced President Maduro as a ‘dictator’ and ‘usurper’ and urged him to step aside, Netanyahu stopped short of openly calling for any action that might fuel internal conflict in Venezuela.

Tel Aviv initially seemed reluctant to take sides, but following reported discussions with US State Department officials and after hearing their passionate performance at a UN Security Council session on Saturday, Israel officially supported the Washington-led effort to recognize the opposition politician as the “legitimate” leader of Venezuela.

Venezuela severed diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009.

Australia’s government has announced it supports Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as his nation’s interim president.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement Monday that the government calls for a transition to democracy in Venezuela as soon as possible.


“Pick a side”

“It is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” Pompeo told the UN Security Council on Saturday during an emergency session called by the U.S.

Pompeo told the UN that the socialist Maduro must go.

Pompeo on Saturday urged countries to help isolate the Maduro regime economically, saying they should “assure that they disconnect their financial system from the Maduro regime.”

Opposition’s call to join protest

Guaido, who is challenging socialist President Maduro’s legitimacy as the country’s leader, is calling on people to take to the streets again.

In a live broadcast Sunday evening, Guaido urged Venezuelans to participate in two new mobilizations in the coming week.

He says that at midday, Wednesday people should exit their homes, offices or wherever they may be to participate in two-hour protests. For Saturday he is asking supporters to hold mass demonstrations in “every corner of Venezuela” and around the globe.

Guaido says the Saturday protest is timed to coincide with a European Union deadline for Maduro to call new elections.

Guaido is urging UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to visit Venezuela and witness the crisis herself.

Venezuela’s diplomatic outposts are more leverage Guaido would like to seize. At a Saturday morning rally in Caracas, he said that many diplomats were heeding his calls to stay in place in defiance of Maduro. “Remember all those consulates that were going to close?” Guaido asked the crowd. They’re going to stay open for a long while!”

Colonel Jose Luis Silva, Venezuela’s top military diplomat in the U.S., said in a video widely circulated on social media Saturday that he supports Guaido.

“The armed forces have a key role in restoring democracy in the country,” Silva said, calling on the government to “stop the usurpation of executive power.”

In a video shared on social media, Colonel José Luis Silva urged fellow members of the Venezuelan military to follow his lead by recognizing Guaido, the opposition leader backed by the United States government.

He accused the “top brass of the military and executive branch” of “holding the armed forces hostage,” and called on his “brothers in the armed forces of the nation to recognize President Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president.”


Responding to Silva’s defection, the Venezuelan Defense Ministry tweeted out photos of the military envoy stamped with the word “traidor” (traitor).

“Insubordination in the face of international interests is an act of treason and cowardice with the fatherland inherited from our liberator Simon Bolivar. As such, we reject the declarations made by Col. Jose Luis Silva, who was acting as military attaché in the United States,” the defense ministry wrote.

Silva, just like the entire Venezuelan diplomatic corps in the US, received orders from Caracas to return to the Bolivarian Republic within 72 hours, after President Nicolas Maduro severed relations with Washington.

Leaflets to soldiers

Opposition supporters have spent Sunday handing soldiers leaflets explaining a proposed law that would provide amnesty to anyone who helps them.

Guaido has renewed his calls for soldiers to abandon Maduro’s socialist government. He was speaking after a Mass.

Guaido was swarmed by television cameras as he stepped out of a Roman Catholic church on Sunday and said he’ll continue to press forward with plans to install a transitional government in Venezuela led by himself and members of the National Assembly.

Opposition supporters staged visits to military bases across Venezuela earlier in the day, handing soldiers copies of an amnesty law. Some military commanders ripped the handouts apart, but no violence was reported.

US accepts Guaido’s envoy

The U.S. State Department has accepted a new Venezuelan envoy in Washington who was appointed by Guaido.

In a statement, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that Carlos Alfredo Vecchio will now have authority over Venezuela’s diplomatic affairs in the United States.

Vecchio is a former aide to Leopoldo Lopez, another opposition leader who is under house arrest in Venezuela. Vecchio fled his homeland during anti-government unrest in 2014 fearing he would be arrested.

Pompeo’s statement says Vecchio met with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who reaffirmed the administration’s strong support for Guaido.

Bolton’s warning

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, sent a new warning to the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Bolton sent a tweet Sunday warning there would be “a significant response” to “any violence and intimidation against U.S. diplomatic personnel, Guiado, or the National Assembly itself.”

Pope’s call

Pope Francis is calling for a “just and peaceful solution” to Venezuela’s political crisis that respects human rights and works for the good of all people.

Francis said Sunday from Panama that he was feeling particularly close to Venezuelans in these days of crisis.

The Vatican hasn’t said if it would back opposition leader Juan Guaido in his claim for the presidency.

Several years ago, the Vatican was frustrated in its attempt to mediate between socialist President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela’s opposition, which has the backing of many Venezuelan bishops.

In his comments Sunday in Panama, Francis “asked the Lord to seek and find a just and peaceful solution to overcome the crisis, that respects human rights and exclusively seeks the good of all people.”

Venezuela defuses potential showdown

Venezuela has defused a potential showdown with the U.S. by suspending a demand that U.S. diplomats leave the country even as Washington called on the world to “pick a side” in the South American nation’s fast-moving crisis.

Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry says it has extended a deadline for U.S. diplomats to leave following it’s rupture in relations. It says it will provide a 30-day window for negotiating with U.S. officials about setting up a “U.S. interests office” in Venezuela and a similar Venezuelan office in the United States.

Maduro inspects troops ahead of military drills

Ahead of the grand military drills, President Maduro visited several bases to demonstrate that his legitimacy is backed by the army, which is ready to defend the nation from potential foreign interventions.

After the US pledged full support to the self-proclaimed “interim president” Guaido, and not ruling out a ‘humanitarian’ military intervention if need be, Maduro said the National Armed Forces must be prepared to defend Venezuela “in any scenario” and announced massive exercises between February 10 and 15. “We are preparing for the most important military exercises in our history,” Maduro reiterated on Sunday while inspecting preparations for the exercises.

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