Tensions between the U.S. and Maduro’s government continue to worsen as a “Russian-made” SU-30 Venezuelan fighter jet made a dangerous intercept of a U.S. Navy aircraft over international waters.
Another round of talks between Maduro and Guaido envoys ended after a week of meetings in Barbados. Norway, who is mediating the talks, says that despite no agreement being reached, talks will continue.
Despite unprecedented poverty, crime and mass migration, the armed forces remain loyal to President Nicolás Maduro. Reuters explains how a military overhaul blurred commands, politicized the ranks and drafted troops into partisan activities.
“The most plausible and most disturbing forecast was this: By December, an additional 1 million Venezuelans will pour into Colombia and other nearby countries — and the region will be unable to cope with them. The Trump administration will find itself facing demands that it mount some kind of intervention to stanch a crisis on the Venezuelan-Colombian border far worse than anything ever seen on the U.S.-Mexican frontier.”
“This is what the Venezuelan experiment in Chavism has become: the employment of armed thugs to extort impoverished little girls. A better future will require an end to the Venezuelan regime’s cruelty, corruption and incompetence. But, in the meantime, the humanitarian emergency is acute and expanding. Aid organizations are operating at the limit of their resources. And the walkers continue their difficult journey.”
The UN estimates that there are now more than 4 million Venezuelan refugees that have fled the political and economic chaos gripping the country. More than one million people are believed to have fled within the last eight months.
The Lima Group, a supranational organization made up of Latin American states, called on Russia, China, Cuba, and Turkey to stop supporting Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Maduro has been in a tenuous position for months as nearly all of his regional neighbors would like to see him ousted and have democracy return to Venezuela.
After Donald Trump tweeted that Russia was pulling most of its people from Venezuela, the Kremlin responded by saying that there has been no official communication between the two sides on the matter. It is unclear if the Russians are lying or if Trump was relying on information he gleaned from a Wall Street Journal report that said that the Russian defense organization, Rostec, was pulling out of Venezuela.
Russia is withdrawing key advisers from Venezuela as the Maduro government is unable to pay for the services of Russia’s state defense contractor, Rostec. Although Russia’s military has made efforts to show support for Maduro in recent months, their cooperation is weakening as it is becoming apparent that Maduro cannot pay for their services.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is blaming the U.S. and its sanctions for causing a shortage in medicine across the country of Venezuela. He has few friends and is looking for help from those he does have as he tries to manage the crisis.
Venezuela’s congress is currently controlled by Nicolas Maduro’s opposition and is not due for an election until late 2020. Feeling confident, Maduro is proposing new congressional elections in hopes of securing a majority for his party. If new elections were to be held, they likely would not be free and fair.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has confirmed that he sent delegates to Norway to meet and negotiate with officials from Nicolas Maduro’s government. While talks have not started between the two sides, Norway hopes that it can deescalate the situation in Venezuela.
Activists with the organization Code Pink were arrested for failing to leave the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, D.C. The American, pro-Nicolas Maduro activists were protesting the recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, and preventing Venezuelan diplomats from taking control of the embassy.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday that it is suspending all passenger and cargo flights between the U.S. and Venezuela indefinitely. “This determination is based on the ongoing political instability and increased tensions in Venezuela and associated inadvertent risk to flight operations,” a DHS statement said, noting a concern for the safety of passengers, crew, and aircraft.
“Though both the Trump administration and Maduro’s far-left foreign defenders prefer to describe the Venezuelan crisis in political terms, the reality is that the regime is less a government — much less a socialist one — than a criminal gang. That has two consequences that are complicating its removal. First, the money it is reaping from criminal activity is serving as a prop that allows it to survive U.S. sanctions. Perhaps more importantly, the toxic taint on almost every top official makes it much harder to pursue the usual formulas for a peaceful transition, including the creation of a transitional government and amnesty for those who step down.”
Juan Guaidó is seeking closer communication with the Pentagon as his pressure campaign has so far failed in its goal of ousting Nicolas Maduro. In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Guaidó said that he would “probably” accept a U.S. military intervention if the U.S. proposed it.
As Maduro finds courage to crackdown on his opponents and as his loyal militia groups threaten politicians and normal citizens alike, Venezuelans are scared to show support for interim president Juan Guaidó. This led to a smaller crowd showing up for Guaidó’s scheduled protests on Saturday.
Venezuela has reopened its borders with Aruba and Brazil after closing the borders back in February. Venezuela maintains closed borders with several other countries, including Colombia, and does not appear to be willing to open any other parts of its border.
Before Maduro’s diplomats were forced to leave the embassy, they invited Code Pink activists to occupy the building, preventing Juan Guaidó’s appointed ambassador from occupying the building. Thus, American activists who think they know better about what to do in Venezuela than Venezuelans themselves are currently preventing Venezuelans from entering their own embassy in Washington D.C.
Security forces arrested Edgar Zambrano, the second in command of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress Wednesday as President Nicolás Maduro’s government began going after foes tied to a failed attempt at a military uprising last week.
Donald Trump is growing increasingly angry at John Bolton over the failure to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, complaining that his own officials misled him about how easy it would be to overthrow him. Trump reportedly complained over the past week that Bolton and others underestimated Maduro, and expressed frustration about having to be involved for the “long haul.”
The U.S. is looking to alleviate the current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela by deploying the USNS Comfort hospital ship. The ship tours around the world and its presence does not indicate an impending U.S. military operation in Venezuela.
A deal brokered between China and Venezuela was supposed to revitalize Venezuela’s food production industry and feed its people, instead, corruption has made a few very rich and left the rest hungry.
Russia’s foreign minister urged the United States to abandon its “irresponsible” plan to topple Nicolas Maduro while his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo slammed Russian meddling in the South American country. Just two days earlier, President Trump had spoken with Vladimir Putin over the phone. Putin told him he wasn’t looking to get involved in Venezuela at all, which Trump seemed to be entirely convinced by.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the Trump administration is offering a broad range of options to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, including “diplomatic options, political options, options with our allies, and then ultimately a set of options that would involve use of U.S. military.” He also said support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó remains strong, and he demanded that interfering countries end their involvement in the conflict.
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan expressed confidence in U.S. intelligence on Venezuela as pressure mounts on the administration. U.S. intelligence has been scrutinized as Maduro remains in power. Shanahan insists that failures in intelligence like those that led up to the Iraq war in 2003 will not occur now with Venezuela.
In its campaign to weaken Nicolas Maduro and bolster Juan Guaidó, the US is seeking ways to unfreeze assets and loans to allow Guaidó to pay government works and the military. While money is extremely tight for Maduro, the move seeks to show Venezuelans that Guaidó can provide a future for the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Finland to discuss the situation in Venezuela. The two had a heated discussion on Venezuela by phone earlier this week.
Amid the chaos and pressure in Venezuela, Maduro made his strongest attempt yet to show that the armed forces still support him. Maduro appeared in photos flanked by military leaders and soldiers, flaunting their loyalty to him, and attempting to take some of the momentum away from his opposition.
National Security Adviser John Bolton warned today of potential U.S. military action against Venezuela, whose socialist government appears to have countered an uprising against Nicolas Maduro. “There are a lot of options underway,” Bolton said. “I spoke with Pat Shanahan myself. Mike Pompeo and I have been talking.”
Despite statements from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting that the “military action is possible” in Venezuela, the Pentagon is responding by saying that it is not preparing to intervene in Venezuela. Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said that the main focus of the U.S. military is to gather intelligence in Venezuela.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during an interview on Wednesday that the United States was prepared to take military action to stem the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela. “Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Pompeo said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Venezuelan authoritarian Nicolas Maduro was ready to flee Venezuela this morning but was persuaded to stay by the Russians. Pompeo said that Maduro even had a plane on the tarmac ready to leave.
Donald Trump threatened economic war against Cuba if it does not remove its troops from Venezuela. He specifically suggested a full embargo of Cuba and the “highest-level” of sanctions if Cuba does not comply. Cuba has been very supportive of preserving the Maduro regime, providing soldiers and money.