Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Comments and Articles Post Aid Debacle on Venezuela Border

Unpublished Letter to Washington Post

To the Editor,

The regime change strategy in Venezuela of Senator Rubio and National Security Advisor Bolton has scored public relations victories,  but failed in its strategic goal of turning the Venezuelan military against its government.  The diplomatic campaign to recognize an alternative regime led by Juan Guaido was not sufficient.  The effort to penetrate national borders with politicized aid resulted only in deaths and injuries.

The Venezuelan Army is too nationalist, and Chavismo still too powerful among the population, to peacefully accept a suddenly ascendent figure so obviously tied to the US.  Although Guaido and the Trump Administration have been edging toward foreign military intervention from the beginning, they reached a dead end on Monday in Bogota because their anti-Maduro allies in Latin America and Western Europe largely disagreed.

About three quarters of countries and the United Nations still recognize Maduro as legitimate President.  Washington's attempt to forcefully renew Monroe Doctrine hegemony in the hemisphere is no more popular than Moscow's effort to dominate again its Near Abroad or Beijing's to assert control over the South China Sea.

The Contact Group, Mexico, Uruguay and Cuba offer the only path to avoid more suffering for the Venezuelan people.   They must negotiate in good faith with both the existing Venezuelan government of Maduro and the legitimate National Assembly led by Guaido to find a political solution.  Arranging new elections for the executive and legislative branches under UN supervision is an obvious step.  Humanitarian aid must be welcomed if handled by respected agencies like the International Committee for Red Cross, Caritas and the World Food Program.  At the same time Venezuela should be able to sell oil and do business in a normal way under the authority of the operational government.

John McAuliff

Comment posted on Washington Post article

Could someone document exactly which "dozens of countries" recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president?

Given US pressure, it may be as notable that nearly 3/4 of the world, and the UN, still recognize the Maduro government.  Does even a majority of the OAS recognize Guaido?  Most of the major Latin American countries do, but neither they nor the Europeans favor military intervention.  

Has the Post investigated the Cuban charges on February 12th that the US was prepositioning forces? http://www.minrex.gob.cu/en/statement-revolutionary-government-it-imperative-halt-imperialist-military-adventure-against Even if true, this could be more psychological warfare, trying to induce the Venezuelan military to transfer its loyalties of at least to significantly divide, like the original diplomatic recognition onslaught and the attempted aid insertion.  

The Spanish paper El Pais has carried video of Maduro addressing a very large crowd on Saturday. How does this compare with the pro-Guaido rallies on the same day and earlier?   https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/02/23/america/1550954052_044349.html

I hold no brief for Maduro, but am disturbed that US press coverage is so one sided, contributing to Iraq style illusions in the public, in the talking head media and in Congress.  

Instead of war, we need Mexico, the Contact Group and Cuba to work out with Maduro and Guaido a reasonable process toward credible UN supervised elections. That begins with junking the Trump/Guaido fantasy of a pretender regime and Maduro's denial of the legitimate authority of the National Assembly. Humanitarian aid should be allowed in through normal non-politicized international channels and the control of national economic resources should be restored to the functioning government.

So far only one pro Guaido source, a former State Department official, has acknowledged what the real costs could be for the Venezuelan people of military intervention. 

“The worst-case scenario is that you have a Syria or Libya situation in Venezuela where not enough military personnel defect over to the Democratic side and they end up taking arms,” [Lindsay] Singleton told Hill.TV. “There could be some sort of civil conflict.” 

Message to Richard Branson (organizer of pro-Guaido concert to raise funds)

If you truly want to help the Venezuelan people, you will direct all funds raised to legitimate international aid agencies like ICRC, Caritas and the UN that can arrange non-partisan delivery.

It was obvious from their own words that the goal of Assembly President Guaido and the US was to use aid as a device to provoke an incident and divide the Venezuelan military. Down that road lies foreign military intervention, civil war and tragedy for the whole country.

It is abundantly clear from the Wall Street Journal article that the goal of Rubio, Bolton and Claver-Carone beyond overthrow of Maduro is to punish Cuba, including roll back of Obama travel. You should forget about US passengers on your cruise to Havana if they succeed.

Instead of war, we need Mexico, the Contact Group and Cuba to work out with Maduro and Guaido a reasonable process toward credible UN supervised elections. That begins with junking the Trump/Guaido fantasy of a pretender regime as well as Maduro's anti-democratic denial of the legitimate authority of the National Assembly. 

Humanitarian aid should be allowed in through normal non-politicized international channels and the control of national economic resources should be restored to the functioning government.


Tweet to Kasie Hunt, MSNBC

@KasieDC El Pais in Spain reports Guaido agenda for Monday meeting with Pence and Lima Group is ask for military intervention (Required by failure of diplomatic and aid strategies to divide military. Opposed by Spain, Chile, Peru.).  https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/02/24/america/1550977983_927598.html


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Trump pressed aides on Venezuela invasion, US official says
As a meeting last August [2017] in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country?

Red Cross warns U.S. about risks of sending aid to Venezuela   https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/red-cross-warns-u-s-about-risks-of-sending-aid-to-venezuela

Venezuelan opposition looks to foreign allies for further steps to unseat Maduro
“After discussions tonight with several regional leaders it is now clear that the grave crimes committed today by the Maduro regime have opened the door to various potential multilateral actions not on the table just 24 hours ago,” [Sen. Marco] Rubio tweeted late Saturday.
In a provocative move Sunday, Rubio tweeted out two photos — one of former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi sitting in a gold chair while in power and the other of his bloodied face and body as he was surrounded by a crowd of rebel fighters shortly before his death in 2011....

Yet as Guaidó and other opposition leaders prepared for Monday’s meeting in Bogota, they appeared to be running out of options. 
Last month, the United States imposed sweeping sanctions that effectively cut off Maduro’s biggest source of hard currency — oil sales to the United States. Having done that, the United States has pulled the most powerful economic lever it had. 
The sanctions risk worsening Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis, since the nearly bankrupt government — now even more cash-strapped — is the chief importer of food and medicines. The U.S. calculation is that the sanctions will make Maduro’s rule un¬tenable. But there are still no guarantees they will do anything more than make a bad situation worse on the ground. 
After an aid operation that failed to achieve its goals, the opposition is also in danger of losing its greatest ally: momentum....

“There is no question that a military intervention to resolve the Venezuela crisis is more plausible than ever,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank. “Guaidó’s insistence that ‘all options are on the table’ echoes President Trump’s words, first uttered in August 2017 and widely interpreted as serious consideration of military action.” 
No military option would be clean or easy, and critics say its threat potentially helps Maduro — an autocratic leader who has used repression against his own people — portray himself globally as a leftist martyr persecuted by the Trump administration. 
U.S. forces, experts say, could take out Venezuela’s air defenses within hours, but an outright U.S. invasion would be unprecedented in South America. It also risks deep divisions in the region and could potentially spark a guerrilla war by leftists while leaving Washington with the burden of rebuilding a failed state. 

After Venezuelan troops block aid, Maduro faces 'diplomatic siege'
Trucks laden with U.S. food and medicine on the Colombian border repeatedly attempted to push past lines of troops on Saturday, but were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Two of the aid trucks went up in flames, which the opposition blamed on security forces and the government on “drugged-up protesters.”
The opposition had hoped troops would balk at turning back supplies so desperately needed by a population increasingly suffering malnutrition and diseases.
Winning over the military is key to their plans to topple Maduro, who they argue won re-election in a fraudulent vote, and hold new presidential elections.
Though some 60 members of security forces defected into Colombia on Saturday, according to that country’s authorities, the National Guard at the frontier crossings held firm. ...
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Sunday for “violence to be avoided at any cost” and said everyone should lower tensions and pursue efforts to avoid further escalation, according to his spokesman.

Region condemns Venezuela’s Maduro but steers clear of new sanctions
Monday’s meeting comes as some believed the Lima Group might accept the need for military force to unseat Maduro. But early in the day, Peru’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hugo de Zela Martínez poured cold water on the notion. “The use of force, in any of its forms, is unacceptable,” he said. “The use of force is not a solution for what’s happening in Venezuela.”

This Is Not Humanitarian Aid: A Maduro Critic in Venezuela Slams U.S. Plan to Push Regime Change  Interview by Democracy Now of Edgardo Lander, a sociologist who’s part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, a retired professor at the Central University of Venezuela  https://www.democracynow.org/2019/2/22/this_is_not_humanitarian_aid_a

The Coup Has Failed & Now the U.S. Is Looking to Wage War: Venezuelan Foreign Minister Speaks Out  Interview with Jorge Arreaza on Democracy Now   https://www.democracynow.org/2019/2/25/the_coup_has_failed_now_the

Mexico's President Lopez Obrador Calls for Peaceful Solution in Venezuela

Venezuela’s Guaido plans to go home despite safety concerns
It remains to be seen whether U.S. sanctions on the country with the world’s largest oil reserves will further weaken Maduro, or divert blame for increasing deprivation to the U.S.-backed opposition. While Guaido says all options for Maduro’s removal are on the table — a comment interpreted as an openness to U.S. military intervention — Colombia, Brazil and other countries that back the opposition appear more cautious, insisting on a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s crisis.

DebunkingFour Mistruths About Venezuela’s Humanitarian Aid Showdown
Pro-Maduro web site shows trucks were burned on Colombian side of bridge by opposition.   https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14355

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