Ever since it was reported that President Donald Trump had wound down America’s enthusiastic support for regime change in Venezuela and chewed out his foreign policy staff for fumbling the ball, the mainstream media seems to have ended its coverage of the humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in the supposed socialist paradise. Instead, cable news has returned its collective efforts to spouting vacuous polemics about the walls closing in on the White House and the Trump administration acting from the Russian playbook. So, some may still be wondering, what the heck is going on in Caracas anyway?
Caught with Hands in the Cookie Jar
The US government never learns its lesson: Stop backing aspiring foreign leaders who are likely just as corrupt as the people already running the show.
Despite attempting to repeatedly oust President Nicolás Maduro from power and urging the rest of the world to recognize himself as the interim president, Juan Guaidó’s desire to become Venezuela’s head of state might not come true after all. In fact, Western powers may choose to dump Guaidó as their man in Caracas, as new allegations of embezzlement are brought to light against key members of his Popular Will Party.
In February, billionaire mogul and philanthropist Richard Branson organized a Live Aid-style concert to raise funds for Venezuelan army defectors who fled to Colombia. The initiative was meant to promote “freedom and democracy,” code for a neoconservative-led coup. According to leaked documents obtained by Colombian intelligence and published by the PanAm Post, Guaidó’s people took the money and ran. Embezzlement, diversion, misappropriation, and fraud were orders of the day.
Kevin Rojas, regional coordinator for the Popular Will Party, and Rossana Barrera, Guaidó’s chief of staff, allegedly misdirected tens of thousands of dollars that were meant to cover the expenses at seven hotels to house more than 1,400 defectors. However, Colombian authorities ostensibly discovered that only half of that figure had crossed the border, and only two hotels were paid. What’s worse is that one of the hotels had evicted 65 defectors and their families due to $20,000 in unpaid bills.
Guaidó has gone into damage control, acknowledging the allegations and promising to “clarify the case of officials appointed to serve our military in Cucuta.” He added that “dictatorships cover up corruption. We do not.” In other words, he hopes that the whole thing will blow over and be swept under the rug.
State of the Economy
Has the Venezuelan economy improved at all in recent months? Not one bit.
The latest round of power outages, which were so severe and widespread that they shut down an oil refinery facility, illustrated just how bad everything is in the country. Of course, crippling sanctions imposed by the US have greatly worsened the situation, leading Caracas to enter into economic partnerships with Washington’s foes. But even without these measures, the socialist regime was implementing its own inherent brand of punishment onto Venezuela’s people, as a result of its destructive economic philosophy. The country is still short of food, the people lack basic supplies, and motorists cannot fill their cars with gasoline – it is befuddling because the nation has one of the largest oil reserves in the world.
Despite all this, Maduro is hellbent on maintaining the policies that led the country to where it is today. This means that the hallmarks of socialism will stay intact: price controls, production quotas, money-printing, and the leadership surviving while the population burns.
At least the heroes of the black market are doing a better job than the president.
Guaidó recently announced that he and his team will meet with Maduro’s representatives in Barbados, mediated by the Norwegian government. He stated that the meeting must lead to a resolution rather than just a stalling tactic by the president. “The Venezuelan people, our allies and the world’s democracies recognize the need for a truly free and transparent electoral process that will allow us to surpass the crisis,” said Guaidó’s office in a statement.
It is unclear if these discussions will lead to any tangible results.
For now, the US has decided to refrain from sending military personnel to the oil-rich, cash-poor nation. Yet, one cannot help but get the sense that the intelligence community is watching, hoping for an opportunity to send field agents to undermine both sides and implement a different stooge, especially now that Guaidó might be damaged goods. Despite the incompetence, corruption, violence, and disregard for basic economic principles, it appears that Maduro and his socialist henchmen will hold onto power.
If Maduro never relinquishes power, then the blame should lie squarely on Guaidó and the outside world that was obviously intervening into the internal affairs of a foreign nation. Good job, international community. Give yourself a round of applause for portraying the socialist purveyors as the victims in this regime change boondoggle. The world will shed a tear not for the hungry Venezuelan who is resorting to pigeons on the street for food, but for Maduro who can never seem to get enough empanadas to eat.
Read more from Andrew Moran.