The U.S. has been intervening in oil-rich Venezuela since at least the early 2000. Several U.S. backed attempts to oust the elected socialist government, first under Chavez and then under Maduro, failed. But the economic sanctions by the U.S. and its lackeys have made the life for business and the people in Venezuela more difficult. With access to international financial markets cut off, the government did its best to work around the sanctions. It, for example, bartered gold for food from Turkey. But the Bank of England, which is custodian of some of Venezuela's gold, has now practically confiscated it.
The Trump administration is launching another attempt to kick the elected government led by President Maduro out of office. Today the usually hapless opposition in Venezuela is set to launch another period of street riots against the government. It calls on the military to take over:
Opposition leaders are also urging Venezuela's powerful armed forces to withdraw their support for Maduro. And they are taking their campaign abroad by lobbying foreign governments to cut diplomatic and economic ties with Caracas.
On Tuesday, U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said that Washington would support any effort by the opposition to form a provisional government to replace Maduro. Addressing average Venezuelans, Pence added: "We stand with you and we will stay with you until democracy is restored."
President Trump is now expected to recognize the opposition leader in the National Congress Juan Guaidó, who does not have a majority in the country, as the nations president.
But the National Congress no longer has legal power. In 2017 that role was taken over by the elected Constitutional Assembly, which supports the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan Supreme Court ratified the change. That Guaidó may be called president by Trump does not make him such.
Juan Guaidó, the self declared 'opposition leader', is just a telegenic stand in for the right wing leader Leopold Lopez, who in 2014 was jailed after inciting violent protests during which several people died. Lopez, now under house arrest, is a Princeton and Harvard educated son of the political and financial nobility of Venezuela, which lost its position when the people elected a socialist government. Lopez is the man the U.S. wants to put in charge even while he is much disliked. A U.S. diplomatic cable, published by Wikileaks, remarks that he "is often described as arrogant, vindictive, and power-hungry".
The poor were the winner of the socialist changes. The socialists, first under President Hugo Chavez and now under Nicolas Maduro, used the profits from oil exports to build housing for the poor and to generally lower their plight. These masses will be called upon to protect their government and gains.
The military, which the U.S. already secretly tried to instigate stage a coup, is unlikely to do so. It does well under the socialists and has no interest in changing that. The U.S. also tried to incite Brazil and Columbia to invade their neighbor. But neither country is capable of doing such. The U.S. itself is also unlikely to invade. At the United Nation Venezuela has Russia's and China's support.
Like in 2017 we can expect several weeks of violent protests in Caracas, during which tens or hundreds of police and protester may die. There will also be a lot of howling from the U.S. aligned media. But unless there is some massive change in the political and power configuration, the demonstrations are likely to petter out.
Has the Trump administration a consistent game plan to achieve such a change in the balance of power? I for one doubt that.
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