Venezuela is in flux as interim President Juan Guaido has begun a military coup against President Nicolás Maduro. Having “won” the 2018 elections in a fashion that many world leaders have described as “fraudulent,” Maduro faces a growing number of Venezuelans who have called the strongman’s presidency illegitimate.
Guaido has now launched what he terms Operation Liberty in an attempt to oust Maduro, and with him are opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and members of the military.
The Final Phase
In a live video address at dawn this morning, Guaido announced that the final phase of Operation Liberty had begun. He said:
“Our armed forces today, valiant soldiers, valiant patriots, valiant men connected to the constitution have come to our calling, we have come to this calling .… At this moment I am meeting with the main military units of our Armed Forces, beginning the final phase of Operation Freedom.”
But this appears not to be a straightforward military removal; it has become a marching rally of civilians calling on the armed forces to join them. According to Reuters, gunfire was being exchanged between Guaido supporters in military uniform and soldiers at the Caracas military base.
Despite Gauido’s calls for non-violence, it appears that street battles are breaking out between protesters aligned with him and the Venezuelan military.
“Nerves of Steel! I have spoken with the commanders of all the REDIs and ZODI of the country, who have expressed their total loyalty to the people, to the Constitution and to the fatherland. I call for maximum popular mobilization to ensure the victory of peace. Venceremos!”
Much of what happens over the next few days and weeks will be seen through the lens of whether other nations recognize Guaido’s legitimacy. Judging by the messages of support coming out, it seems that the United States fully backs this transfer of power.
Vice President Mike Pence sent out a tweet of support:
“To @jguaido, the National Assembly and all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in #operacionlibertad—Estamos con ustedes! We are with you! America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored. Vayan con dios! #FreeVenezuela.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted:
“Today interim President Juan Guaido announced (the) start of Operación Libertad. The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated.”
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton also stated his support for the action:
“The [armed forces] must protect the Constitution and the Venezuelan people. It should stand by the National Assembly and the legitimate institutions against the usurpation of democracy. The United States stands with the people of Venezuela.”
Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez, on the other hand, described Maduro as the legitimate president and condemned Operation Liberty. He said:
“We forcefully condemn the attempted coup d’état underway in Venezuela. Cuba offers firm support and loyalty to Nicolás Maduro, the constitutional president of our sister nation and to his chavista and Bolivarian government. Let there be an end to the assaults on peace in [Latin] America.”
New Migrant Crisis?
As a result of the crushing poverty being experienced in Venezuela, it is estimated that more than five million people have fled the oil-rich nation. Many of these have moved to Colombia and Brazil. Whether in response to the growing migrant crisis on his eastern border or for overall stability in the region, Colombian President Iván Duque showed his support for Guaido by tweeting:
“We call the military and the people of #Venezuela to be on the right side of history, rejecting the dictatorship and usurpation of Maduro; uniting in search of freedom, democracy and institutional reconstruction.”
When a country starts losing its people to neighboring lands, it cannot carry on as once before. The May Day marches that began today seem ready to continue until there is a final resolution. Liberty Nation will keep you informed.
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