Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro participated in a joint press conference on Monday May 29 from the Planalto Palace in Brasília and highlighted the importance of the neighboring countries resuming ties. The press conference was held following a bilateral meeting between the heads of state ahead of the South American Presidents’ Summit. Lula told national and international media that, “This is a historic moment. After eight years, President Nicolás Maduro is back to visiting Brazil and we have recovered our right to have a foreign policy with the seriousness we have always had, especially with the countries that border Brazil.”
This past week, while the rest of the world looked elsewhere, one of the biggest thefts committed against any country in recent history took place. In one fell swoop, the Biden government greenlighted the plunder of several Venezuelan assets: US-based oil subsidiary CITGO, millions of dollars held in US bank accounts and a state-owned aircraft. All these assets had been seized or frozen long ago but after recent (extraterritorial) US orders amidst the neverending aggression against Caracas, there is almost zero chance of the Venezuelan people ever getting them back. More blows to a besieged economy that will only increase the human toll already caused by years of a US-led blockade.
Juan Guaidó continues to advocate punishing the Venezuelan people with US coercive economic measures. Recently shipped to Washington DC, the former “interim president” of Venezuela pleaded, “You can’t use a kind or soft approach,” such as easing the suffering, because it would “normalize dictatorship.” Guaidó was livestreamed May 3 from the quasi-governmental Wilson Center. Located in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC, the Wilson Center is a think tank established by the US Congress, which “conducts research to inform public policy” in service of the US empire.
This Monday, Venezuela’s former deputy Juan Guaidó was escorted by Colombia Migration and US “agents” to the El Dorado airport, from where he flew, before midnight, to the city of Miami, Florida, United States, in a commercial Avianca flight with a ticket provided by the US government, according to statements by Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva. Earlier on Monday, April 25, the Colombian Foreign Ministry, through a press release published on social media platforms, reported that in the afternoon of Monday, Colombia Migration took Juan Guaidó—who hours earlier had entered the country illegally—to the El Dorado airport and placed him on a flight to the US.
The strategy of “maximum pressure” imposed by Donald Trump on Venezuela has failed to achieve its goal of changing the Venezuelan government and pulling the country back into Washington’s sphere of influence. The resilience of the Venezuelan people led by President Nicolas Maduro has not only survived the attacks by the Trump Administration, it has resulted in adjustments to Washington’s strategy and has proved that resistance, creativity, and commitment to dialogue can pay off. On January 23, 2019, the government of the United States quickly recognize a little-known deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela, undermining the constitutional mandate obtained since May of 2018 by President Nicolas Maduro.
In late December, Venezuela’s leading opposition parties voted to oust Juan Guaidó as “interim president” and dissolve his parallel government. This was clearly not the ending the U.K. government had in mind. Four years ago, the British government made the bold decision to recognise Guaidó as Venezuelan president and proceeded to facilitate his legal battle to seize roughly $2 billion of gold held in the Bank of England. Indeed, the U.K. government insisted at every turn that it recognised Guaidó — and not Nicolás Maduro — as Venezuelan president. In turn, Guaidó’s lawyers argued that he was authorised to represent and control the assets of the Central Bank of Venezuela held in London. Throughout this time, Guaidó paid his U.K. legal costs by drawing on millions of dollars of his country’s assets originally seized by the U.S. government. In other words, Guaidó tried to seize Venezuelan state assets with looted Venezuelan state assets.
On January 3, 2023, Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse asked US State Department spokesperson Ned Price about Venezuela. In late December, the Venezuelan opposition after a fractious debate decided to dissolve the “interim government” led by Juan Guaidó. From 2019 onward, the U.S. government recognized Guaidó as the “interim president of Venezuela.” With the end of Guaidó’s administration, Tandon asked if “the United States still recognize[s] Juan Guaidó as legitimate interim president.” Price’s answer was that the US government recognizes the “only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela today, and that’s the 2015 National Assembly.” It is true that when the U.S. government supported Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, it did so because of his role as the rotating president in that National Assembly in 2019.
The Los Angeles Times reports that “the audacious gamble by the U.S. government to…restore democracy” suffered a “spectacular failure” in Venezuela. What this State Department stenographer masquerading as a newspaper considers a “democratic” setback consisted of failing to impose unknown US security asset Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. This man just got the boot from his own fractious opposition group, which voted 72-29 to disband his “interim government.” The Hill reports that the pretend president still claims the post and retains a “powerful network of support,” although not in his home country. Guaidó’s support comes from outside of Venezuela consisting of the likes of Democratic US Senators Dick Durbin and Bob Menendez along with the Biden State Department plus fellow neo-cons on the other side of the aisle.
And so it ended. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. After all, it was made of cardboard. It is very rare to have a political phenomenon beautifully encapsulated in a single moment or image. But in the case of (former) self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaidó, we got exactly that. On November 22, 2021, the Obama knockoff politician was giving a press conference in a fancy-looking set, with plenty of flags and a little podium. As he trudged along his nonsense something magical happened: the presidential shield behind him fell to the floor. It was made of cardboard. For all the absurdity that preceded and followed this episode, this will be Guaidó’s defining moment. Last week, his opposition allies finally had enough and decided to end the “interim government.”
Caracas - The three largest Venezuelan opposition groups voted to eliminate the so-called “interim government.” On Thursday, Democratic Action (AD), Justice First (PJ) and A New Era (UNT) followed through on their pledge to put an end to the bureaucratic apparatus led by self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaidó. The decision was taken during a virtual session of the defunct, opposition-controlled National Assembly (AN) elected in December 2015. Though its term ended in January 2021, the main anti-government parties boycotted the December 2020 legislative elections and instead kept a largely ceremonial parallel parliament by unilaterally extending its mandate on a yearly basis. Via a Zoom call, a project to reform the so-called “Transition Statute” garnered 72 votes in favor, 29 against and 8 abstentions.
On December 12 to 13, 2022, an evidentiary hearing in the case of The United States v. Alex Saab was heard before Judge Robert Scola in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In “Saab Hearing Proves He Deserves Diplomatic Immunity, Exposes Prosecution’s Duplicity” (coha.org, 12-16-22), I summarize the key facts presented by Alex Saab’s attorney in support of the following argument: “Saab was a diplomat, specifically a Special Envoy, of Venezuela, when he was captured in Cabo Verde, a country off the coast of West Africa in which Saab’s plane stopped to refuel on the way to Iran. Saab, the defense contends, was and is therefore entitled to diplomatic immunity.” Here I provide an update on the hearing of December 20 in which Judge Scola heard legal arguments based upon the evidence submitted the week before.
The Venezuelan opposition, more divided than ever and internationally isolated, wants to end the “interim government” of Juan Guaidó and remove him from leadership position. Three of the four main parties of the opposition alliance Unitary Platform expressed their support for ending the “interim presidency” and stop recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s “president in-charge.” They have enough votes to get this decision approved, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, October 20, citing a senior figure in the opposition alliance. The decision comes as 10 largest opposition parties in Venezuela have agreed to hold primary elections in June 2023 to choose a single candidate for the presidency. The presidential election is scheduled for 2024.
The seamless official policy of the Trump and Biden administrations has been that Juan Guaidó is Venezuela’s “interim president.” The US is thusly caught in the self-inflicted fiction of having to deal with a powerless puppet because it does not accept the democratically elected Nicolás Maduro. Although Trump has at least retreated to Mar-a-Lago, Guaidó keeps on asking to be invited to the party, much to Biden’s embarrassment. A related conundrum of its own making is the US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and at the same time needing the fuel. It wasn’t so long ago that Venezuela supplied the US with a significant amount of its daily petroleum consumption. Now Uncle Sam finds himself confronted with price inflation at the gas pump and the inevitability of negotiating with a government it does not recognize.
This Wednesday, October 5, various international websites reported that Juan Guaidó’s “envoy” to the general assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), Gustavo Tarre, decided not to attend after learning that 11 nations intended to expel him from the Lima summit. Among the countries that requested the expulsion of Juan Guaidó’s illegitimate diplomat in the OAS are Mexico, Bolivia and Antigua and Barbuda. The representatives of those countries showed their intention to not recognize Tarre in the US-controlled regional body’s general assembly. In fact, in the last assembly of the organization in November of last year, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia rejected the presence of Guaidó’s envoy.
A Washington D.C. federal judge has granted US oil corporation ConocoPhillips final approval to enforce a multi-billion arbitration award against Venezuela. On August 19, US District Judge Carl Nichols issued a default judgment in favor of ConocoPhillips to collect on a US $8.5 billion arbitration award plus around $22 million for reimbursement of legal costs after the Venezuelan so-called “interim government” failed to appear in court for more than two years. The default claim was entered by the court in October 2021. “Venezuela still has not entered an appearance or otherwise opposed the Motion. For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion and enters [a default] judgment for Petitioners,” indicated the court’s file.