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Fears of US-Backed Coup in Venezuela as Trump Declares New President

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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 Newsreported 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.”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump · 17h

The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela.

Ben Norton@BenjaminNorton

Recognize this for what it is: Trump is declaring a US-led coup in Venezuela, from abroad

Trump (who don’t forget lost the popular vote) is recognizing an illegitimate unelected right-wing opposition leader as fake “president” of Venezuela

This is a couphttps://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1088146315979251717 …Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpThe citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. https://twitter.com/vp/status/1088137453268013057 …4,0973:05 AM – Jan 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy3,360 people are talking about this

Rania Khalek@RaniaKhalek

The US is currently backing a right wing coup in Venezuela. Where is the anti-trump resistance?Vice President Mike Pence@VPAs the good people of Venezuela make your voices heard tomorrow, on behalf of the American people, we say: estamos con ustedes. We are with you. We stand with you, and we will stay with you until Democracy is restored and you reclaim your birthright of Libertad.1,3259:46 AM – Jan 23, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy817 people are talking about this

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.”

Cori Crider@cori_crider

An absolutely classic late-imperial line. Bonus points for pretending the US’ bloody 20th century in Latin America never happened and doesn’t matter.Richard N. Haass@RichardHaassFor those here and the region who will be quick to criticize the administration for this, i ask what is your policy other than watching Venezuela become a failed state that is starving and crushing its people and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/americas/donald-trump-venezuela-military-coup.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share …2493:46 AM – Jan 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy114 people are talking about this

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:

Ro Khanna@RoKhanna

Let me get this straight. The US is sanctioning Venezuela for their lack of democracy but not Saudi Arabia? Such hypocrisy. Maduro’s policies are bad and not helping his people, but crippling sanctions or pushing for regime change will only make the situation worse.Rania Khalek@RaniaKhalekLeading Democrats are backing the Trump administration’s right wing coup in Venezuela. Now would be a good time to hear some opposition to this blatant American meddling from progressives Democrats like @RoKhanna, @AOCc @RashidaTlaib, @Ilhan and so on. Please speak up https://twitter.com/houseforeign/status/1083527700189466624 …7,30912:19 AM – Jan 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy3,200 people are talking about this

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:

Mehdi Hasan@mehdirhasan

I’m no expert on Venezuela but I’m pretty sure you can think Maduro is a horrible/bad/authoritarian president *and* also think it’s bad for the US to back coups or regime change there.12.3K2:35 AM – Jan 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy3,511 people are talking about this

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:

Cori Crider@cori_crider

An absolutely classic late-imperial line. Bonus points for pretending the US’ bloody 20th century in Latin America never happened and doesn’t matter.Richard N. Haass@RichardHaassFor those here and the region who will be quick to criticize the administration for this, i ask what is your policy other than watching Venezuela become a failed state that is starving and crushing its people and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees? https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/world/americas/donald-trump-venezuela-military-coup.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share …2493:46 AM – Jan 24, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy114 people are talking about this

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.’”

Source: https://themindunleashed.com/2019/01/us-backed-coup-venezuela-guaido.html

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