Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
Attempts to carry out a coup in Venezuela have been regularly made since the time of Hugo Chávez. The first one in 2002, when the predecessor of Maduro was opposed by a considerable part of army and was arrested for two days by putschists, was the most productive one.
Back then the people of Venezuela took to the streets in support of Chavez. Also, many leaders of the countries of Latin America, including the late Fidel Castro, who enjoyed absolute authority on the continent, also voiced his support. Two days later the putschists released the president and surrendered. Since then the army has been a reliable stronghold of Chavists. And now too the Generals have declared their full support for Maduro.
Apparently, this time the US isn’t relying on internal opposition. Experts already said that the mutiny initiated by Washington is original and unprecedented, because the US simply recognised the the speaker of parliament Juan Guaido, who appointed himself as the interim president, as the acting head of state. However, originality and unprecedentedness in this case lies only in the speed of recognition and the degree of openness of the American interference.
Trump’s Twitter declared Guaido’s recognition a few minutes (about half an hour) after his self-declaration. At the same time, Washington neglected all existing norms of international law. But this is exactly the same scheme that was used in Libya against Gaddafi and in Syria against Assad.
This scheme is rather reliable. As practice shows, without the external support of Russia, the resistance of the national government breaks sooner or later. In Libya eight months passed between the first protests (on February 15th 2011) up to the murder of Gaddafi (on October 20th 2011). Assad in Syria stood on the verge of a catastrophe in the fourth year of the civil war.
In both cases the striking power of the mutiny consisted of foreign mercenaries supported by the aircraft of the West, which closed the sky to the national Air Force, and then giving direct support to rebels, striking blows to the national Armed Forces. The internal opposition only legitimated the invasion, having given the intervention of gangs of pro-West mercenaries the status of an internal resistance.
In both cases there was one more factor – less noticeable but probably most important. The financing of the mutiny and intervention happened at the expense of the part of the assets of the target state that was in western jurisdiction.
The US has already utilised all three components against Maduro. An alternative government that is recognised by Washington as lawful already exists in the person of Juan Guaido. The US tries to give him control over the assets of Venezuela that are in western jurisdiction, and not without success either. The Bank of England refused to return $1.2 billion in gold ingots to Maduro’s government.
The total cost of Venezuela assets abroad is $8 billion. It is possible to assume that if not all of them, then at least a considerable part of them is controlled by the West. At it is precisely with this money that the mutiny will be financed.
So the optimistic assessment of domestic experts is that it is enough to capture the Colombian Embassy in Caracas where the alternative president Juan Guaido hides himself and also to expel American diplomats (who already refused to leave since Washington doesn’t recognise Maduro, who declared a severance of diplomatic relations with the US, as the lawful president) from the country and that everything will settle down. On the contrary, violent acts against foreign diplomatic missions can only legitimate intervention.
While the US and their allies control billions of dollars of the state assets of Venezuela, they can employ “interim” presidents one after the other. The main thing was already done by Juan Guaido — he declared the existence of an alternative center of power. Now it is possible to even kill or arrest Guaido – the alternative government already leads an independent life. Now there can even be no Venezuelan politicians [in the phoney “government” – ed] at all. Statements on his behalf will be made by any blogger from London employed by the CIA.
With the Venezuelan billions requisitioned by the West, the West can maintain many-thousands gangs of mercenaries for years. The violation of the exterritoriality of diplomatic missions will be quite a sufficient pretext for the deployment of an air operation in support of rebels.
Only force sufficient enough to paralyse western efforts can stop a creeping coup in Venezuela. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that the main weight of the fight for their country in any case will fall on the national Armed Forces.
Russia and China can theoretically give military aid to Venezuela, but their geographical position practically excludes carrying out an operation similar to the Syrian one. The communications of any group that Beijing or Moscow will try to deploy in Venezuela will find themselves under the control of the American fleet and it will be rather easy for Washington to paralyse their activity, having declared a naval and air blockade of the territories under the control of Maduro’s government.
Of course, it is possible to breakthrough such a blockade, but it will be a situation that is as critical as the Caribbean Crisis. Superpowers can find themselves on the verge of a direct military clash.
Anyway, the difficulties of logistics assume limited purely military support for Maduro by his foreign allies, while the US, being based on the territory to a hostile-towards-Venezuela Colombia have the opportunity to deploy unlimited forces of mercenaries. They can try to organise an invasion in the favour of Juan Guaido and the regular armed forces of the adjacent Latin American states.
So the fate of the government of Maduro will depend: firstly, on the ability of the national Armed Forces to make a military operation against Venezuela a pleasure that is too expensive; secondly, on the ability of Russia and China to find an indirect way of responding to the West’s aggression, making it not just resource-intensive (in the mean time the US is going to fight against Maduro with Maduro’s money), but causing damage to the financially economic interests of the West – in the here and now, long before the billions stolen from the people of Venezuela will run out.
This is a nontrivial task. Moreover, it is necessary to solve the problem in real time, while the US plans its actions in advance. In the geopolitical sphere an answer will be given to Washington anyway. But whether or not Maduro’s government will survive long enough to see it is a question that so far has no answer. Assad stood and lasted long time to receive help. Gaddafi – No.
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