Venezuela 2019 Coup - Week 3 - 04 February
04 February 2019
Austria, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden recognized Guaido as interim president on February 4, with Paris saying he had the right to organize an election given the socialist government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro's refusal to do so. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that the government officially recognized lawmaker of the National Assembly Juan Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido said in a newspaper interview he would do all he could to secure Italy's backing after the government split on whether to recognize him as interim president. As nine European nations expressed support for Guaido, challenging Nicolas Maduro's socialist rule, Italy was silent due to a split within the coalition government. "We'll do everything possible so that the Italian government adds its support - which is very important for us - to that expressed by the rest of the European Union," Guaido told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Colombian security and defence expert Erich Saumeth published data on Infodefensa, a defence news outlet. "The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has begun advance hiring of contractors for possible logistic support of the units of their Armed Forces, which will subsequently be sent to the Department of La Guajira on the border with Venezuela". Quoting direct sources from of one of the contractors, the expert claims that the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) is also involved in these activities. "It is not yet known whether these troops will be located at one of the military bases in Colombia with a runway", or, on the contrary, with prior permission, a "temporary US military base" will be created, his report said.
"Handing out ultimatums, sanctions, freezing Venezuelan goods ... It would mean opening the road to a military intervention," said Alessandro Di Battista, a prominent figure in the 5-Star Movement, which makes up half of the ruling coalition. "The 5-Star Movement and this government will never recognize people who appoint themselves president," he added.
5-Star's governing partner, the League, has come out strongly in favor of Guaido. "Maduro is one of the last leftist dictators left, and he governs with the use of force and is starving his people. The hope is that there will be free elections as soon as possible," League leader Matteo Salvini said in a statement.
Maduro continued collecting signatures from citizens from across the country for a petition calling for peace and non-intervention on behalf of United States President Donald Trump. During a speech at the Day of National Dignity commemoration and the 27th anniversary of the military rebellion of 4F (Feb. 4, 1992), Maduro swore before authorities, civilians and military that he will defend the homeland with his life against the coup d'etat that is hovering over the nation. "I swear, 27 years after the awakening of our country that I will be loyal now and forever with dreams of independence and dignity, I swear that I will defend this threatened country with my life and will give peace and victory to the people," assured the president. "Do you want to turn our Homeland into a colony of slaves and beggars? We reject this bad and cheap show from this oligarchy. They need mental help. Someday they may have a bit of decorum and dignity," said Maduro.
The Kremlin said that moves by some major European countries to recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president amounted to foreign meddling and that Venezuelans, not foreign forces, should resolve their own domestic political issues. "Attempts to legitimize usurped power" constituted "interference in Venezuela's internal affairs," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "Any resolution of Venezuela's internal political crisis is possible only [if it is conducted] by Venezuelans themselves," Peskov said.
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra told the press that his government is against any military intervention in Venezuela since it’s up to its citizens to resolve the political situation in Venezuela. While Vizcarra said he did not support the current Venezuelan administration he stressed: "We believe that Venezuela's problems must be solved by Venezuelans themselves. … We are against any military intervention inside Venezuela."
The Lima Group coalition of Western Hemisphere nations urged Venezuela's military to allow badly needed food and medicine to enter the country as the bloc pushes for a peaceful transition of power in the South American nation.
05 February 2019
The US-aligned Lima Group is planning its next steps in Venezuela at a conference in Ottawa, Canada, including positioning its members as suppliers of humanitarian aid to alleviate the damage done to the Venezuelan economy by their own economic sanctions. Tanker trucks and shipping containers were moved into position late in the day on the Tienditas bridge, a key crossing point on the border with Colombia.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will not violate government mandate to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela, the international group said in a statement. “The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Colombia reaffirms that in order to guarantee the fulfillment of its exclusively humanitarian mission and in accordance with the fundamental principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence, it can not participate in the initiatives of delivery of assistance for Venezuela from Colombia,” the letter said. “Likewise, in compliance with our mission we will continue with the humanitarian support to Colombia’s vulnerable, rural population,” said the document.
The joint statement was signed by the chief of Cluster of Andean Countries of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Michele Detomaso; the head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, and the president of the Colombian Red Cross, Judith Carvajal. The aid contributed by the US amounts to roughly 20 million dollars, considerably less than the amount of damage being done by Trump’s multi-billion dollar sanctions.
Venezuelan military officers blocked a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid shipment being coordinated by opposition leader Juan Guaido. The opposition-dominated National Assembly had earlier warned the armed forces, which make up much of Maduro's power base, not to cross a "red line" by blocking aid. Maduro says the humanitarian aid would be the forerunner of a US-led invasion, insisting that "nothing will enter, not one invading soldier." Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela.
06 February 2019
Rome refused to recognise Guaido, stressing that it is crucial to avoid a military conflict in the South American country. Sputnik discussed the matter with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Guglielmo Picchi. "We support a transition process that brings the country to new presidential elections, because Maduro is not a legitimate president since the whole international community did not recognise his election. For us, it is very important that free and fair elections be held in Venezuela...... Position of Italy derives from the fact that it is very important for us to support our community, Italian National Community in Venezuela. In this difficult situation, it is our priority. That is why Italy took a softer stance compared to one of our European partners. Furthermore, we appreciated the recent statement of [Russian] Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov to propose an international mediation and to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis."
An envoy to the US for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has said the country’s oil reserves would be opened to foreign investors, bolstering suspicions that Washington’s support of Guaidó is oil-dependent. Guaidó’s representative in Washington, Carlos Vecchio, told Bloomberg that the opposition leader wanted to increase oil production and scrap current requirements that state-owned oil giant PDVSA must keep a controlling stake in joint ventures. Currently, PDVSA must maintain a 51 percent stake in joint projects.
Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido, coordinates his every step with a foreign country and Moscow sees no point in communicating with a dependent figure, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The latest comment came from the head of the Foreign Ministry’s Latin American Department, Alexander Schetinin, and it’s the first time that Russia has directly spoken out about the poster-boy of the attempted coup in Venezuela. "Our analysis of the situation indicates that Guaido is an absolutely non-independent politician.... He coordinates his every step and receives a blessing for it from another country. Due to this fact, we don’t see any point in communicating with him,” Schetinin pointed out.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded that Venezuela's military let in US-backed humanitarian aid, which President Nicolas Maduro has alleged is a pretext to invasion. "The Venezuelan people desperately need humanitarian aid. The US and other countries are trying to help, but Venezuela's military under Maduro's orders is blocking aid with trucks and shipping tankers," Pompeo tweeted. "The Maduro regime must LET THE AID REACH THE STARVING PEOPLE," Pompeo tweeted, using capital letters for emphasis.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Washington was prepared to waive punitive sanctions on senior Venezuelan military officers if they pledge allegiance to opposition leader Juan Guaido who has proclaimed himself the Latin American country's interim president. The statements come after US President Donald Trump confirmed in an interview with CBS that he is considering sending the American military to Venezuela as an "option".
Britain's opposition Labour Party's foreign affairs policy chief Emily Thornberry said that her party is against the move by EU states to recognize Venezuela opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido as the “interim president” of Venezuela saying that diplomacy and dialogue should be the way forward instead of taking sides. “We need to give them time, and that offer has been made internally and externally. We need to ensure that happens – that is the best way to proceed, rather to suddenly say ‘that’s it, we had enough. We recognize X. We do not recognize Y anymore.’ It’s not the way to treat another country, even a country in as desperate a situation as Venezuela.”
07 February 2019
A regional meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay aimed to promote a peaceful solution to the situation in Venezuela. Representatives from more than 10 countries, including Germany and France, also attended the meeting. The contact group is comprised of the European Union and also France, UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden; and four Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Uruguay.
The United States is working on scenarios for regime change in Venezuela, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has stated at a weekly briefing in Moscow. "There are still signs coming from Washington about the possibility of using force in order to overthrow the legal authorities, including through direct military invasion. This is actually being spoken about openly in the White House. I would like to recall that this kind of statement from the mouth of American officials is a direct violation of Article 2 Par. 4 of the UN Charter, ordering all UN members to refrain from the threat or use of force in international relations", Zakharova said at a briefing. According to Zakharova, the decision on the use of force has already been made by Washington, "everything else is nothing more than a covering operation".
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also stated that the United States has incited Venezuela’s military to commit crimes, promising them amnesty for betraying the country's authorities. "Washington has turned to direct threats of sanctions to the Venezuelan military, who remain loyal to the legitimate government. That is just a different, new reading of the 'carrot and stick' approach. On the one hand, they threaten a potential punishment. On the other hand, they promise a potential reward", Zakharova noted.
Juan Guaido warned the army of its responsibilities after soldiers blocked a key border bridge, sparking angry demands from the US to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid to enter the country. Venezuela's army had to choose between "a dictatorship that does not have an iota of humanity, or to side with the constitution" from which he takes his legitimacy, Guaido said in an interview on Colombian radio.
“Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or other objectives,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “What is important is that humanitarian aid be depoliticized and that the needs of the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian aid is used.” Dujarric also called for “serious political negotiations” to resolve the crisis in Venezuela.
08 February 2019
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected the “partisan and ideological nature” of the EU-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela, which recently vowed to ensure a “credible” new election in his country. Venezuela supports the dialogue process proposed by Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia and the Community of Caribbean Countries (CARICOM), Maduro said at a press conference in the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. He added that the government was ready to talk to “whomever and whenever.” “We are in the immediate position to support any action that promotes diplomacy, dialogue and meeting between Venezuelans,” said the president. "We have always told the EU and [its foreign policy chief] Federica Mogherini: You are not listening to the truth of Venezuela, you are deaf. And the EU is doomed, Mogherini will fail if she listens to and follows what Venezuelan right-wing extremists say."
Neoconservative interventionist Elliott Abrams told reporters at the State Department that Washington was not interested in any talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “The time for dialogue with Maduro has long passed,” he said, asserting that Maduro would “manipulate” any negotiations to his advantage. The trucks loaded with US humanitarian aid intended for Guaido and his supporters had arrived at Cucuta, on the Colombia-Venezuela border. The Venezuelan military, which remained loyal to Maduro’s government, blockaded the bridge on the other side, however. Abrams said that the US will not “force” the crossing of the convoy with aid.
09 February 2019
US trucks full of food and medicine arrived at the Venezuelan border near the Colombian city of Cucuta. However, the Venezuelan military reportedly blocked the Tienditas bridge so that the trucks cannot enter Venezuela. Maduro said that his country has "never been, nor are we, a country of beggars". He also insisted that the US had declared a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela to create "a cover for the military plans of the Trump government ... The whole crisis in Venezuela is that the United States imposed sanctions and imposed a financial blockade".
10 February 2019
The US plans to vote for a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution which voices "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, including "recent attempts to block the delivery of humanitarian aid", Bloomberg reports. The resolution also calls for the "immediate start of a political process leading to free, fair, and credible presidential elections" in Venezuela. The document also accuses Maduro's government of causing "an economic collapse" in the Latin American country, which has prompted millions of refugees and migrants to leave Venezuela "in search of food, basic medicines, and opportunities in other countries in the region". For the resolution to pass, it needed nine votes in favor and no votes in opposition from any of the five permanent UNSC members, including Russia, the US, the UK, France and China. Russia prepared its own draft UN Security Council resolution "in support of Venezuela".
Caracas launched the country's largest-ever military exercises, practicing the defence of Venezuela's territory, coasts, rivers and airspace from foreign invasion, and drilling for civil and military mobilization in the event of war. The drills came amid threats by the White House that the US would not take the 'military option' off the table on the Venezuelan crisis. The military exercises will last until February 15 and are set to become the most major and important drills that Caracas has held over its 200 year-old history, according to Maduro.
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