The citizens of Venezuela have become pawns in a global power. The tense standoff in Venezuela between Nicolás Maduro and Juan Guaidó has morphed into something far larger than a contest for power between a failed leader still supported by parts of the army and die-hard leftists, and a young legislator propelled to the front by popular demonstrations.
In part because of the Trump administration’s all-in support for regime change, the crisis has become a dangerous global power struggle. That’s the last thing Venezuelans need.
There is no question that President Maduro must go, the sooner the better. Heir to the socialist rule of Hugo Chávez, he has led his oil-rich country into utter ruin. Its currency is useless, basic foods and medicines have disappeared and more than three million people have fled, fomenting refugee crises in Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.
The only solution is an interim government under Mr. Guaidó, who as the head of the National Assembly has a legitimate claim to the presidency under the Venezuelan Constitution. It would lead to new presidential elections and a flood of emergency aid.
Pope Francis said Tuesday that he was willing to help mediate an end to the conflict if both sides agreed. He said he had received a plea from Mr. Maduro to help start a new dialogue.
“There needs to be the will of both parts,” Francis said. He suggested beginning with small concessions from both sides, working toward a more formal negotiation.
In hopes of a peaceful resolution, many democratic governments have thrown their support behind Mr. Guaidó.
Twelve Latin American countries, the Organization of American States, Canada and more than a dozen members of the European Union have so far crowded into Mr. Guaidó’s corner alongside the United States, recognizing him as the interim president.
Mr. Maduro’s primary backers are Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and Turkey.
These are not entirely alliances of the like-minded. As in any geopolitical struggle, disparate interests are at play, and many include a suspicion or fear of President Trump’s motives and potential means.
For the hard-core conservatives in the Trump administration, Mr. Maduro is the failed standard-bearer of the scourge of socialism in Latin America and the beachhead for Russian, Cuban and Chinese influence. Mr. Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out a military option.
But it is not all about Trump. Venezuela’s problem is more than people being opposed to the Maduro administration. It is about pressure largely from outside the country. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was strong. He was also well-loved by his people to the extent that the country voted for Chavez to enjoy an extended presidency. Had he not died he would not have been in the predicament that Maduro has found himself.
It is not that the United States was not seeking to topple the Chavez Government. It is not that the United States was not prepared to blacklist Venezuela. But such actions would not have gained traction in the country.
Maduro does not enjoy such a popular support. In fact, the people opposed to him in their numbers are actually reaching out to the United States and its allies.
Sadly, Maduro has distanced himself from so many of his neighbours that his could be a case of Grenada which came under attack because its neighbours supported the invaders. Many countries in the Organization of American States of which Venezuela is a member would not be opposed to see Venezuela invaded.
But what happens in Venezuela is affecting all its neighbours, some more affluent that others. Guyana is one of the lesser affluent ones and it is affected, if only because of the migration of Venezuelans. (With extracts from New York Times)
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