Fears of US-Backed ‘Coup’ in Motion as Trump Recognizes Venezuela Opposition Lawmaker as ‘Interim President’

Yves here. An additional Venezuela factoid:

By Jon Queally, managing editor for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @jonqueally. Originally published at Common Dreams

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela officially cut off dipomatic ties with the U.S. government on Wednesday—and gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country—in response to President Donald Trump declaring formal recognition of an opposition lawmaker as the “Interim President” of Venezuela, despite not being elected by the nation’s people for that position.

“Before the people and nations of the world, and as constitutional president,” declared Maduro to a crowd of red-shirted supporters gathered outside the presidential residence in Caracas, “I’ve decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist U.S. government.”

According to the Associated Press:

Maduro said in his speech the U.S. was making a “grave mistake” by trying to impose a president on Venezuela and rattled off a long list of countries — Guatemala, Brazil, Chile and Argentina—that saw leftist governments toppled or come under military rule during the Cold War with U.S. support.

In a prepared White House statement earlier in the day, Trump declared he was “officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”

In addition to vowing to “use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power” to restore what he called “democracy” in the country, Trump also encouraged “other Western Hemisphere governments” to recognize Guaido. Shortly later, CBC News reported that Canada, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was making plans to follow Trump’s lead.

In his remarks from Caracas, Maduro told his supporters “the very existence of our Bolivarian republic” was under threat and urged them to resist “at all costs” what he explicitly described as a “coup” attempt by the “interventionist gringo empire” and the “fascist right” within his own country.

“They intend to govern Venezuela from Washington,” Maduro declared. “Do you want a puppet government controlled by Washington?”

Critics of U.S. imperialism and its long history of anti-democratic manuevers in Latin American expressed immediate alarm on Wednesday after Trump’s announcement. And what Trump identified as “democracy,” critics of the move instead used Maduro’s description: “coup.”

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), called the latest moves by the Trump administration a “disgrace.”

“It’s acceleration of the Trump administration’s efforts at regime change in Venezuela,” said Weisbrot. “We all know how well that strategy has worked out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria—not to mention that hundreds of thousands of people in Latin American have been killed by U.S.-sponsored regime change in Latin America since the 1970s.”

The announcement by the U.S. and Canada—one also backed by the newly-elected far-right Brazilian President Jair-Balsonaro—arrived on the same day that massive street protests in Caracas and elsewhere across Venezuela were held by opposition parties and those upset with Maduro’s leadership and just two days after the latest failed coup attempt by rogue military officials.

Following a call for progressive U.S. lawmakers to respond, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted:


Considering the U.S. political class has spent the last two years up in arms over the idea that the Russian government had the audacity to interfere in the 2016 elections, it stands to reason that the U.S. government simply deciding to “recognize” an un-elected opposition lawmaker as president of a foreign nation—regardless of affinity for the actual elected president—might be viewed as problematic:


While members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, including Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, embraced Trump’s move, more progressive-minded critics pushed back:

On Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence stirred outrage of his own by issuing a statement in support of the anti-government protest movement—a gesture critics similarly viewed as an explicit effort to undermine Maduro by fomenting the nation’s right-wing to stage a coup against the socialist government.

In Facebook post on Wednesday, Dr. Francisco Dominguez, secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, a U.K.-based campaign that backs the Bolivarian revolution and Venezuela’s right to self-determination, voiced loud objection to the U.S. vice president’s call.

“This is an outrageous violation of international law and an unacceptable interference into the affairs of a sovereign nation plus a grotesque aggression by openly calling on Venezuelans to rise up to oust the democratically elected [Maduro] government,” Dominguez said. “The U.S. has tried to oust the democratically elected government of Venezuela since 1998 and the brief April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez had Washington fingerprints all over.”

Pointing to the history of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, including the 1973 CIA-backed coup in Chile, Dominguez said the people of the region know all too well the “horrendous results” of anti-democratic interventions by the Americans.

Naming Pence, President Donald Trump, national security advisor John Bolton, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) as leaders of hawkish tendencies within the U.S. government, Dominguez characterized the recent history of U.S. aggression towards Venezuela—”20 years of golpismo, economic warfare, destabilization, violence, [and] financial blockade”—as a strategy that would allow U.S.-backed interests to get their hands on the country’s “oil, gold, coltan, thorium and many other lucrative raw materials.”

In a tweet on Tuesday, Rubio warned the Maduro government it was “about to cross a line & trigger a response that believe me you are not prepared to face,” a reference to violence predicted at Wednesday planned opposition protests.

According to CEPR’s Weisbrot, the economic sanction imposed on Venezuela by the U.S. and other nations are designed to destabilize the country and have helped fuel the economic anxieties that, in part, drive the street protests and social upheaval. “The Trump sanctions on Venezuela are illegal under U.S. and international law, and they have killed many people in that country,” he explained.

Weisbrot rejected the idea that members of the administration or others pushing for regime change in Venezuela are doing so on behalf of the Venezuelan people. “Of course it goes without saying,” he concluded, “that all of these crimes and threats of violence from Pence, Trump, Rubio, etc. have nothing to do with ‘democracy.'”

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78 comments

  1. Livius Drusus

    Sadly I expect Trump to get bipartisan support for this move. Another thought I had was that this is Trump trying to shore up support among the Republican foreign policy establishment after his withdrawal from Syria. It might also help Trump among conservative Hispanics who are more numerous than people think.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Durbin is a big fan of the coup. I guess he drew the short straw since Donnelly and McCaskill were sent packing. The mid-Atlantic Dems wouldn’t look too good calling for intervention during a shut down. My guess is he’s not running for reelection and will serve as the villain du jour.

      Reply
  2. Darius

    Venezuela is nowhere near US clients El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala in being a failed state, despite Herculean US efforts to make it so.

    Maduro critics deride his last election. My understanding is that international observers said it had few problems or incidents. It has much more legitimacy than last year’s fraud fest of a governor’s race in Georgia, made to order by a partisan corrupt Supreme Court.

    Reply
    1. Joe Well

      I would strongly hesitate to call Guatemala a “failed state” (absolutely apt for El Salvador and Honduras). Guatemala is still better off now than it was under the military dictatorships, and despite disappointments, this is a relative high point for democracy in the country. It’s just that Guatemala’s governments have always been awful.

      Maybe we need a new terms for states like Guatemala’s and Venezuela’s: “never succeeded states.”

      Reply
      1. worldblee

        Venezuela actually succeeded very well under Chavez (illiteracy reduced to nearly zero, poverty cut in half, the most equality in South America). Chavez’s untimely death, huge economic pressure from the US and its allies and support for a dangerous opposition, and the collapse of oil prices have brought it to its current state.

        Reply
    2. integer

      The reason the legitimacy of the 2018 election is questioned is because of the low turnout, however this was primarily due to supporters of the right-wing party, who knew they didn’t have the numbers to win, refusing to vote. All in all it’s a pretty effective way for a party that is sure it is going to lose to cast a cloud of illegitimacy over an election. FWIW 28% of eligible voters cast their vote for Maduro.

      Reply
    3. William Beyer

      You nailed it there, Darius. Our own voting system sucks, big time. This kind of meddling in other countries’ elections makes me ashamed to be an American.

      Reply
  3. David in Santa Cruz

    Another brilliant “Wag the Dog” move by our Caudillo!

    The U.S. government is shut down, 800,000 federal workers are not being paid, Lanny Davis is dropping hints that Michael Cohen wants his old boss as a cell-mate, and the Democrats control the House. “Hey! Look over there!”

    When (not if) the Articles of Impeachment are delivered to the Senate, you can bet that the Marines will be hitting the beaches of Lake Maracaibo that same day.

    Reply
    1. Skip intro

      The distraction may be useful, but I think it is also a great wedge to split neocon dems from progressives. And if Trump ‘botches’ it by, for example, making loud threats which seem likely to increase international support for the Venezuelan govt, then he has stumped the neocon interventionists on both sides, who have generally been his enemies.

      Reply
    2. Anon

      Not distraction. Obama said that Venezuela is a threat to “National Security” to the US. In Military terms it is of course ridiculous. Venezuela has one of the largest reserves of oil though and on top of that they have made life better for the poor during the Chavez years. Completely untolerable!

      Reply
        1. J.Fever

          Obedient Worker’s.
          My spelling sucks anymore.
          Along with my eyesight.
          And Google spell check.
          Get off my lawn.

          Matamoras strikes. NOTHING?

          Reply
  4. juliania

    I must also say that depending upon how Congress treats this situation, impeachment articles ought also to include all who have participated in this outrage, no matter how far down the chain of responsibility that would extend. We very much need swift indictments and the full force of legitimate leadership rapidly restored to our country. This cannot stand.

    Reply
  5. Carolinian

    M of A analysis was linked up by commenter tricia in Links this morning. B says as long as the army is with the government then a coup is unlikely.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/01/venezuela-us-again-tries-regime-change-it-is-likely-to-fail.html#more

    Of course there once was a US engineered coup against Chavez during the Dubya regime (and with the NYT giving its approval). That one only lasted a few days but clearly our financial overlords have it in for those Venezuelan socialists.

    Reply
    1. Michael

      Great article!

      One point made in that article was the plan put forth by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in the US Senate is to seize Venezuelan assets and give to the “Interim President” ( ie US stooge) to fund the coup.

      Classic imperial move!

      Reply
    2. liam

      The revolution will not be televised is an outstanding documentary covering this coup. It’s quite instructive on how hostile the corporate media is to democracy, and just how it can be used.

      Reply
  6. Steely Glint

    Neoliberal Atlas Network is probably celebrating
    https://www.atlasnetwork.org/news/article/venezuelas-continuing-nightmare
    “We’ve been working in Venezuela promoting free market ideas and research since 1984. We know that there’s a lot left to be done, and we’re not giving up anytime soon.”
    https://theintercept.com/2017/08/09/atlas-network-alejandro-chafuen-libertarian-think-tank-latin-america-brazil/
    “The Atlas Network spans dozens of other think tanks across the region, including prominent groups supporting right-wing forces behind the unfolding anti-government movement in Venezuela and the campaign of Sebastián Piñera, the right-of-center candidate leading the polls for this year’s presidential election in Chile.”

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      My B-I-L’s sister started teaching in Caracas in the late 70’s, it was a sweet gig for an American educator, she got about double the pay of a teacher back home and loved it…

      And then came Black Friday on February 18, 1983, the start of 35 years of unchecked hyperinflation, and within a few months she was back in the estados unidos for good.

      Reply
  7. Redlife2017

    Hmm. I feel like the US plan is missing some obvious steps here. Like they are saying, Maduro is out, new rich dude is in, yadda yadda, Democracy!

    I suspect that the next step is sending in the Boyz from Brazil. Have them flail about and then send in our own mercs (whatever Blackwater is called nowadays) that I presume Erik Prince has been busy getting ready for heavy urban and jungle warfare. Not sure if Trump has the heuvos to use non-merc soldiers. If he does have said heuvos, get ready for a glorious revolution. Like his beautiful wall, it will be amazing. I’m sure some excesses will happen (like in Libya), but it couldn’t be helped. All those people will just have to deal with being dead. As the great Judge Smails said: “I’ve sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t want to do it. I felt I owed it to them.

    “Freedom, Truth, Honour — you could rattle off a hundred such words and behind every one of them would gather a thousand punks, pompous little farts, waving the banner with one hand and reaching under the table with the other.” Dr. Hunter S Thompson, The Rum Diaries

    Edit: I’d like to think my anger over this turn of events is obvious with the massive amount of sarcasm…

    Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    At what point does our leadership throw down the Monroe Doctrine to save it from outside usurpers, as a reason for invasion of Venezuela?

    Reply
  9. voteforno6

    So, they’re restoring democracy in Venezuela, by recognizing a person who named himself president as head of the government? They’re not even trying anymore, are they?

    Reply
  10. Other JL

    What’s the deal with Canada? What possible reason would Trudeau have for following Trump here? Is there any evidence for this?

    Reply
    1. jonhoops

      I think we have Nazi spawn and regime change artist Chrystia Freeland to thank for Trudeau’s misguided support for this.

      Of course the big mining interests will be happy as well.

      Reply
      1. R. B. Boo

        Yup. Freeland never met a fascist inspired regime change she didn’t like, and Justin Sunnyways is too much of a selfie loving dilettante to know or care what’s going on in the Foreign Affairs department.

        Reply
    2. Unna

      Jonhoops is right. This has the fingers of Freeland all over it. So “woke” boy prime minister Justin Trudeau is standing tall with neoliberal “fascist” authoritarian Jair Balsonaro, Donald Trump the “Evil One”, and Freeland’s very own neo nazi militia dependent government in Kiev, all to bring Truth, Light, and woked feminist Democratic Freedom to the world. So what do Canadian liberals have to say about this disgrace of a prime minister now? Trudeau ought to give up the fake, high school drama teacher bad acting opposition to Trump and learn to love The Donald.

      And, his sublime worthlessness, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP seems to be no better. Here’s Singh’s tweet:

      “Venezuelans are facing a humanitarian crisis and Canada can play a positive role by working with its regional partners to provide support. No country should act unilaterally and we must all support a democratic Venezuela with free and fair elections.” https://twitter.com/theJagmeetSingh/status/1088241249763688448

      Which “regional partners”? Who? And what kind of support? The commentators to Jagmeet’s tweet are asking, hey, what does that tweet mean, Jagmeet? You’re the leader of the NDP. Take a stand.

      This tweet is the profile of a politician who is probably going nowhere. I hope that Jagmeet loses – he probably won’t – in the up coming by-election in BC, doesn’t get himself into parliament, gets ousted as leader, and sets the NDP free to choose a real leader who stands for something. We know now what Trudeau stands for, but what does Jagmeet stand for? Anything? As they say, sometimes political issues can be so clarifying.

      Reply
      1. Unna

        Here’s the statement of Niki Ashton, MP NDP who ran for leader last time, but, I think is still a bit young for the job. But maybe in due time. She certainly knows how to take a position:

        “PM Trudeau sides with Trump’s regime change agenda and Brazil’s fascist President in support of someone calling for a military coup in Venezuela. No! We cannot support an agenda of economic or military coups. #HandsOffVenezuela” https://twitter.com/nikiashton/status/1088303987248562176

        Or, say, this other political leader, Tulsi Gabbard, from a different country:

        “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders–so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.” https://twitter.com/TulsiGabbard/status/1088531713649713153

        Reply
  11. JohnnyGL

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/24/juan-guaido-venezuelas-opposition-leader-declares-himself-interim-president

    Turkey, China, Russia, Mexico, Iran all not happy with US actions. Visible statements of support.

    Maduro’s in a tougher spot, internationally, than Chavez was in 2002, because Brazil and Colombia are now run by hard-right loons, but he’s got enough support abroad to go with his domestic support from military and his electoral base to hang in there.

    Reply
  12. Expat2uruguay

    It hasn’t even been 5 months since Jimmy Dore aired this episode:

    https://youtu.be/1glTX3c8ttY about the Empire files and Venezuela Analysis being blocked and shut down by Twitter and Facebook… in advance of a coup attempt by the US state and corporations, as we see today. How convenient!

    Reply
  13. Pookah Harvey

    If Trump supports Juan Guaido in declaring himself President maybe Hillary should try the same, after all she did win the popular vote.
    Only kidding.

    Reply
    1. RUKidding

      Much as I dislike HRC, WHY NOT??

      Apparently it’s just open season to declare whoever the eff you want to the leader of a country.

      Of course, Team USA is notable for this type of maneuver.

      Just ask Gough Whitlam in Australia.
      Just ask Salvadore Allende in Chile.

      and the list goes on….

      Reply
        1. John Mc

          I am now officially banning daddy shark songs for the next decade (but must be installed in the elevators of the big six media companies) do do ta do…

          Reply
  14. voteforno6

    Where is the Resistance(TM), indeed. If the Democrats had any faith in the Constitution and the rule of law, they would file articles of impeachment against both Trump and Pence. If this Venezuela farce doesn’t constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, I don’t know what does.

    Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      They’re a little hampered by the fact that they stood by quietly for the last ~6 decades when our increasingly autocratic Commanders in Chief did things like this or worse. Trump wanted an ego-boosting distraction from his slow-lose on the government shut down. Bolton a/o Pompeo gave him one. There is no noticeable US national interest served in this media hogging stunt. But Congress has been letting Presidents get away with worse for decades, so they’re kind of helpless now.

      Reply
  15. Joe Well

    What is missing from almost every discussion of Venezuela that I’ve ever seen is that the country has always, going back to the days of the caudillos who overthrew Bolívar himself, had extremely kleptocratic and inept governments (even by the standards of Latin America) supported by undisciplined, criminal and murderous police forces (again, even by the standards of Latin America) and benefiting a typical Latin American elite characterized by polite racism, classism, and cliquishness.

    So, if Maduro goes, OK, then what? At best, an incremental improvement. The fundamental reason things have gotten so bad precisely now is that the entire Venezuelan government was predicated on oil at at least $90/barrel and it’s been well below that for years. The “free trade” world system that encourages countries to “specialize” in a single export is the backdrop for this.

    The violent crackdown on protests is horrible, supposedly having killed over 200 people in the past few years, but that’s only a modest uptick in police violence. In one event in 1989 alone, the three-day “Caracazo,” the police of the internationally recognized and respected government killed hundreds of people.

    And, fellow gringos, we’ve seen this movie before: the elites of some Latin American country beg for us to “intervene” and save their bacon, and then for decades afterward blame us for all their society’s ills. This time, don’t fall for it. We can help Venezuela by sending no-strings humanitarian aid in kind (food, medicine) and above all by accepting more Venezuelan migrants who can support their country with remittances since it can’t support itself with the current price of oil.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      According to the World Bank, the Venezuelan economy shrank by 26% from 1980 to 1998, and it wasn’t a quick decline at the end. It was slow, grinding contraction. In the 80’s and 90’s, it was increasingly under the control of the IMF and was home to the first IMF riots in the region. There were a few coups in the early 90’s, one of which Chavez took part in, they had broad popular support. There were urban guerilla movements in the country decades ago. The collapse in the price of oil caused multiple economic crises in the country, going back decades. Inflation was high from 1998 to 2013, but nowhere near as high since Chavez died and the economic war intensified, and inflation in the years leading into Chavez getting elected was higher than the 1998-2013 period. Many of its problems pre-date 1998, and as far as a lack of economic diversification, that is a problem that is near universal in poor countries. Most of them rely on a small handful of raw material exports, which either have bad terms of trade or have pretty large price swings. So, its lack of economic diversification is real, but not unique to the country. It has many of the same problems found in other poor countries in general.

      The NED, the CIA, USAID and many other organizations have been funding the right wing fascists in the country. They supported the 2002 coup, the oil industry lockout, various forms of economic sabotage, and the US government has obviously recently frozen needed Venezuelan assets, barred imports into the country and barred creditors from re-negotiating the country’s foreign debt. A good portion of the economy in Venezuela is owned and controlled by right wing elements, and they have intentionally cut back the supply of many basic goods as a means of causing greater economic and social harm.
      I also wonder, how can the US government support a human rights horror show in Colombia, a country where thousands of journalists, union organizers, leftist politicians and activists have been killed in recent decades, and pretend to care about human rights and democracy?

      It matters though who gets the oil wealth. It matters too that we continue to undermine democracy as we do. I have zero interest in anyone that screams Russia, Russia, Russia, but then supports what we have done to Venezuela.

      Reply
      1. Joe Well

        The collapse of oil prices in the 1980s was a turning point for Venezuela for sure, but so also was the surge in those same prices in the the 2000s which shaped the Bolivatian Revolution.

        No development expert would call Venezuela a “poor” country. Its HDI is still quite high though I’m sure it’s dropping fast.

        Also, Venezuela’s dependence on this one export is unique in Latin America. Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil all have major petroleum sectors but none come close to Venezuela and are far more diversified especially with larger agricultural sectors.

        A thought experiment: Venezuela suddenly today got Norway’s technocratic government and also simultaneously the US and domestic opposition disappeared. The situation would improve but the country’s economy would still be in shambles until oil prices rose. There would be no way to pay for much in the way of social programs. It would be like Cuba, a ration book state.

        My point is don’t blame too much on Maduro, chavismo, the opposition or the US though they are making an inherently bad situation absolutely dire.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          “Also, Venezuela’s dependence on this one export is unique in Latin America. Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil all have major petroleum sectors but none come close to Venezuela and are far more diversified especially with larger agricultural sectors.”

          Well, for one, a reliance on raw material exports among poor countries isn’t unique what so ever. It is a defining feature of being a poor country that they aren’t in a position to largely export things in value added industries. And Venezuela’s reliance on oil exports is not unique to countries that have comparable oil reserves, no country in Latin America is close to its reserves. So, not really an apples to apples comparison. Oil accounts for roughly the same percentage of export revenues for Saudi Arabia, Iran gets the overwhelming majority of its export revenues from oil, etc. I would also argue that the massive size of the oil reserves is actually a reason why there isn’t tons of economic diversity (the Dutch disease). In the US, around the time of the Civil War, the south actually opposed high industrial tariffs because they preferred the far better imports from places like Britain. The high industrial tariffs were put in place to protect infant industries here from the strong foreign competition. If the south had its way though, it would have exchanged its cotton for far superior British goods than buy inferior domestic products. Given that Venezuela has such massive oil reserves, and given that wealth and income is so inequitable, and given that any products produced there are going to struggle to be of better quality than the imports that could be bought with the oil, it isn’t surprising that instead of putting in place policies that lead to endogenous economic development (the very policies that institutions like the WTO and the IMF will simply not allow if they have any say) people just use oil revenues to buy exports in industries that Venezuela could possibly develop over time. Chavez did try to diversify the economy, but it is difficult in a country like Venezuela. China has developed by radically violating the types of policies usually forced on poor countries, but China is a special case in almost every way.

          “No development expert would call Venezuela a “poor” country. Its HDI is still quite high though I’m sure it’s dropping fast.”

          No developing expert would only rely on an HDI number alone to make such an assessment. Lots more data would be needed, including how equitable the access to services are.

          Reply
    1. knowbuddhau

      Funny, Kissinger came to my mind too, his notorious quote, “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.” Posted a link to a 2010 New American article on its origin in Links.

      Reply
  16. Susan the Other

    Trump is too dumb to do this and too smart to interfere. Jesusmaryjosephandgod. I smell a Koch Bros refinery all over this. And attempting to install their version of Obama and Beto O’Rourke. Venezuelan crude is the very heavy, dirty glop that the Kochs refine. But we all can distill this down to: Pollution, pollution, pollution. Not that Venezuela was good at protecting their estuaries and coastlines. But nobody has been perfect so far. Least of all the Kochs. And not to mention the original sin of Venezuela using a new petro-crypto. Whatever that is. Where the F is our New Bill of Rights AND Obligations? Shall we build our Left-Right Bridge in Venezuela? I actually did like the whole non-violent change theme of their Beto. But so much Wrong is still hanging out there twisting in the wind. And Bolsonaro? That little snot. Will somebody please do him some serious non-violence before he fu*king clear-cuts the Amazon? Please.

    Reply
  17. J C Bennett

    Because there is much talk about “illegal” or “questionable” means by which recent elections in Venezuela have been called, I thought it might be useful to post here something that almost no one in the US is aware of — that the Venezuelan constitution includes specific provision for the calling of a Constituent Assembly to make changes to the Constitution, and spells out the various ways that such an assembly may be called.

    After the Venezuelan Supreme Court found the National Assembly to be too corrupt, and too involved in extra-legal behaviors to remain in control of the country, President Maduro. following the country’s constitution to the letter, called the Constituent Assembly. The “C.A.” operates like the soviets in the former USSR. Every interest or occupational group — military, educators, farmers, laborers, etc, has a voice. The C.A. did draw up a new Constitution, which is now the fully legitimate law of the land.

    The former National Assembly has no legitimate role, now, in Venezuelan politics or governing. Former National Assembly president Juan Guaidó, therefor, has no standing whatsoever as far as claiming the presidency of the country.

    Here are the three relevant clauses of the Venezuelan Constitution:

    Article 347 of the Venezuelan constitution says:

    “The original constituent power rests with the people of Venezuela. This power may be exercised by calling a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of transforming the State, creating a new juridical order and drawing up a new Constitution.”

    Article 348 of the constitution spells out the various ways that a National Constituent Assembly may be called:

    “The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly by a two-thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.”

    Article 349 says:

    “The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution. The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way. For purposes of the promulgation of the new Constitution, the same shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Venezuela or in the Gazette of the Constituent Assembly.”

    So the current government of Venezuela, elected fairly and openly according to international observers, is fully legitimate, and the actions of the US government violate a whole raft of US and international laws, as well as the requirements of simple human decency.

    In other words, to get Venezuela back on its feet, send food, not bombs.

    Reply
    1. shinola

      Thanks for the constitutional info. Too much noise & very little signal coming through the US MSM.

      And a resounding yes to this:

      “… get Venezuela back on its feet, send food, not bombs.”

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      In other words, to get Venezuela back on its feet, send food, not bombs.

      1. Remove the Sanctions
      2. Close the CIA, DOS, DOD, NSA, and FBI, and send the senior employees to a reduction camp.

      Reply
  18. Ignacio

    I have been following this in spanish press. It is amazing the “coolness” devoted by El Pais to the coup. This outlet has always been anti-Hugo Chávez and anti-Maduro. But come on, being cool about a coup promoted by Trump’s EEUU….

    Reply
  19. a different chris

    >heads an assembly that has 25% approval.

    To be fair, our Congresspersons would kill for that level of approval. :D

    Reply
  20. hemeantwell

    Jacobin has a very useful interview with a guy who’s logged a lot of time working in the upper echelons of both the Chavez and Maduro admins, Temir Porras http://bit.ly/2MvUGCh He’s not a whitewasher but he remains very loyal to the Chavista project.

    My very boiled down take is that the main mistake of the Chavistas was to count on a commodity demand boom that meant they could implement socialism primarily be redistributing oil receipts to the masses. They did little by way of a full-blown developmental state project. Lots of resonance with the pickle Russia is trying to work out of after they let Soviet-era industry get clobbered because markets.

    I think this may already be linked elsewhere on the site, but Moon of Alabama thinks a coup won’t work.
    http://bit.ly/2MvNJkN

    Reply
    1. DAVID SMITH

      Unlike Bolivia, which socked away money when times were good, Venezuela spent it all. Chávez also could have been less incidneary. He polarized, just like Trump does, to keep his base excited, alienating many middle-class people who weren’t at all part of the oligarchy, only educated and/or light-skinned.

      Reply
  21. The Rev Kev

    Seems that Macron has thrown his full support behind Guaido and his protestors trying to overthrow the government. Seems too that as long as they don’t wear yellow jackets they are OK with him. I will make a prediction here. Venezuela has about $550 million in gold sitting in London’s Bank of England vaults that it could desperately use. The UK has refused to give back Venezuela’s gold because they might use it. I am going to say, based on events in the past few decades that if Guaido succeeds, that part of the price will be that London, and maybe Washington, gets to keep that gold. More on this story about the gold-

    https://www.rt.com/business/443516-boe-refuse-venezuela-gold/

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  22. mrtmbrnmn

    Ay chihuahua! Golpe de Estado or Coup de Caracas. Why didn’t the featherbrained #resistance and the Dementedcrats think of this??? Five minutes after Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker they should have simply declared that they now recognize her as the President of the United States. Duh!!! This kind of utter bat guano insanity will bring on the end of the world as we know it long before climate change can do the job.

    Reply
  23. Adrian Kent

    Overhere the BBC has gone into full ‘official enemy mode’ – there’s at least a five to one ratio favouring opposition ‘voices’ over those who are either neutral or support Maduro (similar ratios are found in coverage of Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Nicaragua etc etc).

    For context, there usually is no mention of the US sanctions, the 2002 Coup attempt, the US/Saudi influenced oil-price manipulation and never any mention at all of the two decade long fulll-spectrum economic war conducted against Venezuela, details of which can be found in this excellent free pdf book from a Venezuelan academic economist:

    https://mirror.explodie.org/THE-VISIBLE-HAND-OF-THE-MARKET.-ECONOMIC-WARFARE-IN-VENEZUELA.-PASQUALINA-CURCIO-C.pdf

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  24. David R Smith

    I really cannot fathom all of this support here for Maduro. Three million Venezuelans have left the country because of crime and starvation, and it seemed yesterday that pretty much all who remained were in the streets crying for regime change. This is not 2002, when right-wing ideologues tried to oust Chávez. Yes, our three Central American client states are comparable, but millions of them are not out in the streets protesting. And just perhaps, maybe on this one issue, Trump is on the right side.

    I’ve lived in Venezuela. Venezuelans LOVE Brazil. If the Brazilian army crossed the border and started walking toward Caracas, it would be like American troops in Paris in 1944, when women ran out into the streets to kiss them and restaurant owners dragged them inside for free meals. For good measure, a samba band could accompany the troops. The regime would be gone in days, if not hours.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Help me. Craig Murray gives a nuanced view and it’s seriously at odds with your claims. And Maduro has far more public support than the US puppet wanna-be.

      And you airbrush out that Maduro did make mistakes, the biggest of which was not cracking down on economic looters, a great deal of the distress is the direct result of US sanctions and can hardly be attributed to Maduro policy failures.

      https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/01/the-coup-in-venezuela-must-be-resisted/

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  25. David R Smith

    I saw the photos of yesterday. Of the hundreds of Maduro supporters, many who were required to attend, and the hundreds of thousands in opposition.

    I don’t disagree that it’s hypocritical to slam Venezuela and not Honduras and Saudi Arabia. But it doesn’t make the Venezuelan government any better.

    If this is a coup, it’s certainly a popular one, not unlike those in the former Soviet satellites in 1989. And while US sanctions may have worsened the country’s economy, the government is still a horrible one and needs to leave.

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  26. Blue Pilgrim@grics.net

    Interesting numbers at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_elections_by_popular_vote_margin

    Maduro won by 2/3 (67%) of the vote (in an election observed and ruled free and fair by various groups, including the one from Jimmy Carter). The best I could find in US elections was Lyndon Johnson in 1964 at 61.05%. Next best FDR in 1936 with 60.08%.
    Trump lost the popular vote with 46.09%, and calls Maduro’s election undemocratic.

    Voting in Venezuela, by the numbers, is more democrat than any US election since records were kept.

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  27. David R Smith

    These were the countries that recognized the 2018 presidential Blue Pilgrim refers to.

    Antigua and Barbuda, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria, Turkey

    Enough said.

    Reply
    1. Blue Pilgrim

      Perhaps too much said, or too little. Or perhaps you need to listen to the facts more. ‘Enough said’ is no way to discuss things, or try to discredit the other ‘side’, and neither is trying to demonize countries.

      https://therealnews.com/stories/venezelection1005
      Jimmy Carter says: “Election Process in Venezuela is the Best in the World”

      The bottom line is that regardless of whether you like those other countries (and you did not include Russia — a major omission), the elections in Venezuela are free and fair, and the important people for approving Maduro’s election are the voters there — 2/3 of them, while the US based empire with no right to say anything, much less hold a coup or threaten military actions — or to sanction Venezuela which created so much of the economic problems to start with. There has been enough with Iraq, Libya, Syria, [edit — forgot to mention Ukraine — a major example] and other countries destroyed by the US, and the other countries filled with US puppets (all country to international law and the UN Charter). It’s the US who needs some democracy, for a change, and to mind it’s own business before it completely collapses.

      Reply
  28. David R Smith

    The link you provide is to the 2012 election when Venezuela was still a democracy, not the one from 2018 which was recognized only by the countries I cited.

    The problem I have with the article and most of the comments here are their defense of the indefensible present Venezuelan regime. To be against the US history of intervention in Latin America and what Trump, Bolton, and Bolsonaro (all of whom would have gladly invaded in prior years when Chávez was routinely racking up 60% of the vote in fair elections) want for Venezuela, should not have to mean supporting Maduro.

    The letter from academics signed first by Noam Chomsky and reprinted in today’s NC links, seems to recognize that it’s best that Maduro and his inner circle leave, to try and best save the positive things from the Chávez revolution, and to best ensure that a future Venezuelan government is broadly representative and not a stooge of the US Republican party.

    Reply

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