“You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit, and no way out. You will lose everything.” It was in these terms that on Monday, Feb. 18, President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife, gave a passionate speech before Florida’s Venezuelan community, and addressed soldiers in Caracas who still support their head of state, Nicolas Maduro, and have not yet rallied behind Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed president.
Such remarks could be considered “logical” if the two countries in question – specifically the world’s largest superpower and a Latin American country – were at war. That is not the case here, since both armies are in their barracks. But whatever happened to state sovereignty? Has it become a simple, empty slogan when the balance of power is lacking? Undoubtedly it has, because whether we want to believe it or not, when the head of one state pressures the head of another to step down – at the risk of military intervention – we have a glaring interference with state sovereignty staring us in the face.
Calling the Venezuelan president a “Cuban puppet” that Washington no longer wants to see remain in power, the American president delivered an inflammatory diatribe against socialism, and concluded that “the days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well,” and reminded his audience that he preferred a “peaceful transition of power,” while not forgetting to suggest that “all options are open,” the carrot and the stick, of course.
The American president is therefore demanding that Maduro step down, either by choice or by force. Wearing the disguise of a benefactor, Trump thus wants people to believe that he is coming to the rescue of those living in a country shaken by a profound economic crisis and that he is putting an end to their misery. He is painting a pleasant picture, and Uncle Sam could end up looking stronger because of it. But the truth lies elsewhere, because upon closer reflection, we see that this economic crisis – which, by the way, runs very deep – does not come from mismanagement but rather from American sanctions that appear to have cost Venezuela some $30 billion.
Furthermore, last May, Maduro was reelected with 68 percent of the vote after three opposition candidates and 16 parties ran against him. Although the election was boycotted by three opposition parties, it nonetheless attracted a number of voters, as turnout reached 46 percent. That is a considerable figure in a Latin American country where voting is optional. And yet, as one would expect, the day after the election, Washington labeled the results a “farce” and the Lima Group rejected them.
The White House interest in this country did not begin when two presidents started disputing their claim to power in Venezuela. Washington did not step in to offer itself as an impartial arbitrator in this dispute; rather, its interest goes back much further. According to an article published in The Wall Street Journal in January, it was the American president’s famous henchmen – Marco Rubio, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, Mike Pompeo, and Mike Pence – who, with the help of Canada’s minister of foreign affairs and her team, brought the young Juan Guaido into the spotlight and helped him take control of the National Assembly while waiting for the coup d’état that would allow him to gain access to the country’s highest office.
This coup d’état was facilitated on Jan. 4, 2019, when the Lima Group, mainly comprising Washington’s allies, declared that its members “do not recognize the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolas Maduro, or his regime,” on the basis of which the Venezuelan parliament, under the control of the opposition, voted to oppose Maduro’s inauguration. It is thus on the basis of this vote that was meant to “confirm” the “illegitimacy” of President Maduro’s second term that Guaido declared himself “President of the Republic.”
Furthermore, after the American president’s speech, there is no need to look anywhere but the While House for an explanation of what is happening today in this Latin American country that holds large mining resources and is, moreover, “socialist.”
But even if, at this late hour, a military intervention by the United States cannot be ruled out, it also is not clear that Russia and China, two important members of the United Nations Security Council and significant economic partners of Caracas that still support Maduro, will keep their arms crossed and let Washington do as it pleases. Let us hope not as we wait and see.