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Venezuela 2019 Coup - Week 4 - 11 February

A drop in energy prices, corruption, and the US led sanctions have destroyed the oil-rich Venezuelan economy, leaving severe shortages of food and medicine and out-of-control inflation. Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on January 23. He said Maduro's re-election was fraudulent and as head of the opposition-led National Assembly, he had the constitutional right to invalidate the results and declare himself president until a new election is held.

11 February 2019

A senior Russian diplomat said Venezuela hasn't asked Russia for military assistance amid the South American country's political crisis. Alexander Shchetinin, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin America department, said that Moscow hasn't received any such request from Caracas, according to Russian news reports. Asked to compare the situation in Venezuela to Syria, where Russia has waged a military campaign to shore up Bashar al Assad's regime, Shchetinin said "there is a big difference" between Syria and Venezuela but wouldn't elaborate. The Russian diplomat strongly warned the US against making calls on the Venezuelan military to drop support for Maduro, saying it represented an "unthinkable meddling into foreign affairs of a sovereign nation."

Juan Guaido, recognized by the United States and some 50 other countries as the interim President of Venezuela, warned the military on Sunday that preventing the entry of humanitarian aid into Venezuela is a "crime against humanity" and makes them "almost genocidal." "There are people responsible for this and the regime knows it. This is a crime against humanity, men of the armed forces," Juan Guaido said. He directed his comments at soldiers deployed to a bridge connecting Venezuela with Colombia. Shipments of U.S. food, medicine, and humanitarian aid are on the Colombian side, with a tanker and two large trucks sitting in the middle of the bridge.

Venezuela wants to double its oil sales to India and is open to barter payment arrangements with the world's third biggest crude consumer, Venezuelan Oil Minister Manuel Quevedo said. "India also wants to increase the intake," Quevedo said after a meeting with Indian refiners. "We are selling more than 300,000 barrels a day but of course we want to increase that and India also wants to increase the intake from Venezuela. We want to double that amount."

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has the support of "great allies" in the international community, Armed Forces Operational Strategic Command chief Adm. Remigio Ceballos said, speaking to VTV. "We are not in isolation…we have great allies," Ceballos stressed, when asked about the fifty or so countries who have joined the US in supporting self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido last month. "We have the support of more than 180 countries in the international community, especially at the juncture that we are in right now," the commander said. [for the record, there are about 190 "countries" in the international community, with some 50 recognizing Guaido as interim president]

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the United States is trying to create a humanitarian crisis in the Bolivarian Republic and now using humanitarian aid as a mean of justification for military intervention. “Venezuela is a country that has dignity, and the United States has intended to create a humanitarian crisis in order to justify military intervention, "humanitarian". And this is part of that show,” President Nicolas Maduro said, during an interview with BBC.

“That's the reason that we, with dignity, tell them that the minuscule crumbs that they intend to bring with toxic food, with leftovers that they have, we tell them no - Venezuela has dignity, Venezuela produces and works and our people do not beg from anyone.” He called the U.S. President a “white supremacist” who with other right-wing extremists in the White House are waging a war against Venezuela. "It's a political war, of the United States empire, of the interests of the extreme right that today is governing, of the Ku Klux Klan, that rules the White House, to take over Venezuela," said the democratically elected leader of the South American country.

"The extremists of the White House have taken it upon themselves to carry out a coup in Venezuela." President Maduro said that the West would not be so interested in Venezuela if it’s main economic source would be something else but it is because of oil and gold they are being attacked.

12 February 2019

Guaido announced that aid would be brought into the country on February 23, despite opposition from President Nicolas Maduro. US aid has been piling up in Colombia at the border with Venezuela but until now the bridge border crossing had been barricaded by the military, under Maduro's orders. Venezuela's opposition supporters took to the streets nationwide to keep the heat on embattled President Nicolas Maduro and to demand he allow humanitarian aid into the country where food and medicine shortages are rife.

National Assembly leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido was recruited by the US a decade ago and is little more than Washington's "puppet," Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa, Venezuela's ambassador to Russia, said. "Guaido was recruited, according to our information, some 10 years ago. He was sent to Serbia to study. You probably know about it. And it all started with this," Tortosa said, addressing lawmakers at Russia's Federation Council about the political crisis unravelling in his country. "The time came…they said he was prepared, but he is totally unprepared for this task. He is just a puppet, and is placed where he is so that the US could stand behind him and speak," the diplomat added.

"Yes, of course, many mistakes were made by our state and by President Maduro. But these were not mistakes which put us in the situation we are in today. There has been a boycott of the production of crucial foodstuffs and medicines. This started after the death of Comandante Chavez. Immediately after his death, they started an economic war," the envoy said.

According to a report released by the Wall Street Journal, China had been holding talks with Venezuela's political opposition to safeguard its investments in Venezuela. Chinese diplomats, concerned over the future of its oil projects in Venezuela and nearly $20bn that Caracas owes Beijing, have held debt negotiations in Washington in recent weeks with representatives of Juan Guaido.

Maduro called on Britain to return "more than 80 tons of gold" reserves deposited in London instead of sending humanitarian aid. The socialist leader told the BBC that his country may have gold reserves weighing 80 tons or more deposited at the Bank of England. Maduro said the gold is "legally Venezuela's, it belongs to the Central Bank of Venezuela".

"They should send a convoy with the dollars they've stolen from us," said Maduro. "Send a convoy with the 80 tons of gold. Let it come, the convoy of money, it's our money. With that we could solve our country's problems."

"Time is running out for Nicolas Maduro, a government that has no future, no ideas and no support in the population," Guaido said, adding that Maduro faces "a movement that is growing, and we will not retreat and postpone a process that is inevitable." Food aid has arrived in the country. "We managed to hand out a small portion of the humanitarian aid to save lives today: 4,500 nutritional supplements for malnourished expecting mothers, to prevent spinal bifida and other ailments, to save unborn lives," he said, without providing details on how the supplies entered Venezuela. Guaido made it clear the military must allow aid supplies to reach the civilian population. "If they do not, we regard that as a crime against humanity," Guaido argued.

13 February 2019

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera speculated that his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, would be ousted within days. "Within days, Maduro's dictatorship will cease to exist. The people of Venezuela have opened door to freedom and democracy, with courage and happiness. Now they should move toward a free and prosperous country that lives in peace. All the democrats across the world share this happiness."

The administration's special representative to Venezuela, former Reagan and Bush administration official Elliott Abrams, said U.S. sanctions against the Maduro regime are working. Abrams also refused to rule out the possibility of U.S. military intervention. Democratic lawmakers question Abrams's credibility to serve as the U.S. representative in the region, citing the convictions he received — and eventually was pardoned — for his role in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s.

While Trump has refused to rule out a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, Congressman Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a congressional hearing that lawmakers would not support such a move. "I do worry about the president's saber-rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option," Engel said. "I want to make it clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option."

14 February 2019

At the United Nations on Thursday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza addressed reporters, flanked by diplomats from a dozen countries, including Russia, China, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. He announced that the nations are forming a coalition to defend international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter, including the non-intervention in the domestic affairs of member-states and the duty of all states to not threaten others with the use of force. "We believe these principles are being violated, putting at risk the right to peace and security of our peoples," Arreaza said. "In the next few days, we will begin a series of actions to raise awareness around the dangers that our peoples currently face, particularly the case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."

15 February 2019

About 50 UN-member countries have pledged their support to Venezuela's embattled President Nicolas Maduro, while 65 countries, including the US, stand behind the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president.

Maduro told Al Jazeera that the US is trying to destabilise his country and that efforts by the US-backed opposition to bring aid into the country are political theatre. Maduro said his government should have control over its borders and imports. "Any material that comes from outside the country must be subject to certain conditions such as inspection and taxes as in all countries, whether by air, sea or land, and then there will be no problems," he told Al Jazeera. "The theatrical presentation they are attempting on February 23 will not happen." That's when Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month, said aid would arrive in the country.

The opposition-controlled Congress has named a new board of directors for the state oil giant PDVSA, as well as its US subsidiary - a move welcomed by Washington. But Venezuela's top court ruled that the opposition-appointed petroleum executives must face criminal prosecution.

The Venezuelan Ambassador at the Organization of American States (OAS), Samuel Moncada denounced that the United States government stole over USD$30 billion from the Venezuelan people. "Mr. Trump proclaimed himself the owner and lord of the natural resources, territories and inhabitants of that colony that he now calls Venezuela, and we have a real epidemic of autoprocalmations," he said.

He then explained that the U.S.-backed coup d'etat against the Bolivarian Government is only effective in Washington, "where everyone celebrates the sacking of our nation, but it is a failure in Venezuela." He argued that the illegally self-proclaimed "interim president," Juan Guaido, is the one in Venezuela defending "the measures of economic suffocation against our people because they produce the necessary suffering so that the necessary military decide to support him."

"If you want to help Venezuela, do not threaten us with war and return what has been stolen," the diplomat said in reference to the resources blocked by the U.S. government, as part of the unilateral and illegal sanctions imposed against the South American country.

15 February 2019

Nicolas Maduro’s government earlier took a loan from the US finance giant with gold reportedly worth over $1 billion put as a guarantee. The loan is due to expire in March. If by that time the Latin American country, which is going through a major crisis and political turmoil, fails to repay it, then Citibank is entitled to keep the collateral. Allies of Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself an interim president of Venezuela and challenged the country’s incumbent Head of State Nicolas Maduro to leave the post, is asking Citibank (which is a part of the US-based investment giant Citigroup) to put the gold swap with Maduro’s government on hold, Reuters reports. The financial giant is entitled to claim the assets put as collateral for the loan taken by Venezuela if Caracas fails to make the payment on time.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered his country’s armed forces to prepare a plan to permanently deploy troops, guaranteeing the nation’s impenetrability, citing the threat of “provocations” by Colombia and the US. "Reinforcing the border with Colombia is necessary to make it “safe and peaceful… We must be well deployed to defend our land, to thwart any provocation, which we anticipate and which we do not know yet. Imagine them defending their maritime area against our marine and air force”, Maduro said.

He insisted that Colombian President Ivan Duque, backed by the US, is conspiring against Venezuela. "I am not exaggerating. In the White House, Donald Trump and Ivan Duque announced plans for war against Venezuela”, the country’s president said referring to the latest meeting between the two leaders in Washington. This echoes his earlier claims that if "the US intends to invade us [Venezuela], they will have a Vietnam worse than they can imagine”.

Maduro made the statement about a plan for permanent mobilisation of the country’s Armed Forces to guarantee “security and peace” in the face of an alleged military intervention by Colombia and the US immediately after the largest ever military drills, Angostura. "It is a plan to maintain the mobilisation of the Bolivarian Armed Forces for protecting our country, which is one of the constitutional obligations … Mobilisation and training. Training and deployment. There must be tanks, missiles of the republic and the soldiers of the republic; [ways] to combine air defenses, naval forces, deployment of the military in order to carry out exercises", the Venezuelan leader said as broadcast by his Periscope channel.

16 February 2019

On 16 February 2019 Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who earlier declared himself the country's interim president, called on the Venezuelan Armed Forces, supporting President Nicolas Maduro, to change sides, giving the military seven days to do so, in the anticipation of humanitarian aid arrivals to the crisis-hit country.

Three US Air Force planes carrying humanitarian cargo for Venezuela have arrived in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said. "More and more humanitarian aid is coming for Venezuela! We are pleased to confirm the arrival of three aircraft of the US Air Force carrying humanitarian aid", Guaido wrote on 16 February. The opposition leader expressed gratitude for support, adding that the humanitarian aid would cover the needs of more than 25,000 Venezuelans.

The issue of humanitarian aid to Venezuela had become a matter of controversy in recent days amid Caracas’ concerns that foreign countries could use such deliveries as a cover to achieve political or military objectives. On 15 February, the US Defence Department told Sputnik that the US military would provide logistical support for the efforts to deliver humanitarian cargo for the crisis-torn country.

US Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, declared that the EU must recognize Guaido as the official — although temporary — leader of the beleaguered South American nation, until a new official presidential election can be held, according to Reuters. Pence's remarks appeared to be a veiled warning against the entire economic bloc, as opposed to the traditional diplomatic process of negotiating with nations on an individual basis. The Republican next-in-line to the US presidency avowed that Guaido's interim presidency in Venezuela should be recognized by the "the rest of the world" while calling for current President Nicolas Maduro to resign.

17 February 2019

In an interview with CNN, US Senator Marco Rubio warned that President Nicolas Maduro would face grave repercussions if the Venezuelan government harmed or imprisoned opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself the country's interim president. "There are certain lines and Maduro knows what they are. The consequences will be severe and they will be swift," Rubio said, also warning Maduro not to harm US personnel working in the country, adding that the United States would also respond if aid workers were targeted. Rubio declined to say if he would support possible US military action against Venezuela, but added that the Trump administration would not stand by if Maduro cracks down on Guaido.

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Page last modified: 27-02-2019 19:07:18 ZULU