Yesterday’s “humanitarian aid” stunt at the Colombian-Venezuelan border was supposed to achieve four points:
1) to breach the border and thereby open venues that could later be used for the passage of arms and fighters,
2) to incite large scale defections from the Venezuelan army and police forces,
3) to demonstrate to the outside world that the Random Guyaido, who declared himself president, has a large following and is thereby legitimate enough to support him,
4) to deliver justification for further steps against Venezuela.
Point 1 was clearly not achieved. A few hundred young men attacked the Venezuelan National Guard force that closed off the border. Attempts were made to ram “aid” trucks through. Random Guyaido was nowhere to be seen. The whole thing ended in a minor riot. The violent attackers received gasoline and made Molotov cocktails to attack the guards and set the “aid” trucks alight. The riots continued (vid) until about midnight but neither any rioters nor the aid passed through the border.
The New York Times headlines, and Guaido claimed, that some “aid” passed into Venezuela from Brazil:
Down in paragraph 17 of its story the NYT admits that its headline is fake:
But as of Saturday night, the trucks remained stranded on the border, according to Jesús Bobadillo, a Catholic priest in Pacaraima, the Brazilian border town.
Bloomberg’s bureau chief in Venezuela confirmed that the “aid” never entered the country:
— Patricia Laya (@PattyLaya) February 23, 2019
The attempt to incite defections of Venezuelan security forces largely failed. A handful of National Guard foot soldiers went over to the Colombian side. But the National Guard lines held well even under a hail of stones and fire and the units were quite disciplined in taking and holding their positions. The military of Venezuela stays firmly on the side of the state.
The “aid” nonsense did not help to brush up Guaido’s legitimacy. Defying a court order Guaido left Venezuela and entered Colombia. If he ever goes back he will have to go to jail. The large mobilization inside and outside of Venezuela he had promised completely failed to appear. The melee at the border crossing only showed that his followers are a gang of brutal thugs.
Guaido also lost his original legal position. He claimed the presidency on January 23 under this paragraph of article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution:
When an elected President becomes permanently unavailable to serve prior to his inauguration, a new election by universal suffrage and direct ballot shall be held within 30 consecutive days. Pending election and inauguration of the new President, the President of the National Assembly shall take charge of the Presidency of the Republic.
That the “elected President becomes permanently unavailable” was never the case to begin with. But if article 233 would apply Guaido would have had 30 days to hold new elections. The 30 days are over and Guaido did not even call for elections to be held. He thereby defied the exact same paragraph of the constitution that his (false) claim to the presidency is based on.
All the above will not change the U.S. urge to “regime change” Venezuela. But it will certainly lower Guaido’s support within the country as well as his international standing. It demonstrated aptly that he is nothing but an empty suit.
The last aim of yesterday’s stunt was to give justification for the next steps towards “regime change” – whatever those steps may be. The success of achieving that aim was never in question as all U.S. media and politicians were already backing Trump’s plans by accepting the “humanitarian aid” nonsense in the first place:
The people of Venezuela are enduring a serious humanitarian crisis. The Maduro government must put the needs of its people first, allow humanitarian aid into the country, and refrain from violence against protesters.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 23, 2019
This response to the fake socialist is warranted:
Bernie, are you f-ing kidding me! if you buy the Trump, Bolton, Abrams, Rubio line, “humanitarian intervention” and collude in the destruction of Venezuela, you cannot be credible candidate for President of the USA. Or, maybe you can, maybe you’re the perfect stooge for the 1 %.
— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) February 23, 2019
When the day was over Guaido and his U.S. handlers put out some statements that they probably wrote even before their “aid” stunt failed:
Los acontecimientos de hoy me obligan a tomar una decisión: plantear a la Comunidad Internacional de manera formal que debemos tener abiertas todas las opciones para lograr la liberación de esta Patria que lucha y seguirá luchando.
¡La esperanza nació para no morir, Venezuela!
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 24, 2019
Para avanzar en nuestra ruta, me reuniré el día lunes con nuestros aliados de la comunidad internacional, y seguiremos ordenando próximas acciones a lo interno del país. La presión interna y externa son fundamentales para la liberación.
¡La esperanza nació para no morir!
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 24, 2019
Marco Rubio @marcorubio – 2:43 utc – 24 Feb 2019
Marco Rubio Retweeted Juan Guaidó
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.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will arrive in Colombia tomorrow to tell Guaido how to proceed. The focus will most likely be on how to start a sabotage campaign and a low level guerrilla war within Venezuela. Both will certainly hurt the country and its people but they are unlikely to achieve the larger “regime change” aim.
Fact free propaganda by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already preparing a wider field:
Cuban agents are directing attacks on the people of #Venezuela on behalf of Maduro. The Venezuelan military should do its duty, protect the country’s citizens, and prevent the Havana puppeteers from starving hungry children. #EstamosUnidosVE
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 24, 2019
The Economist is speculating about the consequences of military intervention in Venezuela, also known as a war of aggression. It is not (yet) convinced that it is the immediate way to go, but foresees that it is likely the only way to actually “change the regime”:
Outsiders tend to play down the ideological commitment of some in the armed forces. […] There are many guns in the hands of pro-regime militias. Venezuela has a tradition of guerrilla warfare.
An American invasion would thus be highly risky. It would also be counter-productive, because it would deprive a new government of legitimacy and revive anti-imperialism across Latin America when the main issue is the defence of democracy. Yes, Cuba is intervening in Venezuela, and there is scant evidence that Mr Maduro will go peacefully. Even so, maintaining the broadest possible political front against him remains the best option.
The next steps the U.S. will take will “soften up” its target for an upcoming invasion. They will include further measures to make Venezuela ungovernable and to starve its people into submission. One possible step, even while legally unjustifiable, is a sea and air blockade. The “soften up” phase will take many month, if not years, to achieve some noticeable changes on the ground. Only then will further action be merited. The actual point in time will depend on how it may influence Trump’s domestic standing.
Would launching a war on Venezuela help him to get reelected or will the war have to wait until he won his second term?