Senators Marco Rubio (R – FL) and Bob Menendez (D – NJ) have introduced a reauthorization of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act that passed in 2014 and was then reauthorized in 2016. The bill led to targeted sanctions on the regime of current Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.
The reauthorization would again extend the first batch of sanctions passed under Obama for another 2 years.
“Now is not the time for the international community to give up on the Venezuelan people; now is the time to be consistent, bold and forward-thinking in crafting a diplomatic strategy that increases international pressure on Maduro and helps forge a peaceful and democratic solution to this crisis,” said Menendez.
As scandal after scandal rocks the credibility both domestic and abroad of self-declared Interim President Juan Guaido, former president Obama, President Trump and a number of senators, namely Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, and Ted Cruz have only doubled down on their desire to see Maduro overthrown.
Their confidence that crippling economic sanctions are the pathway towards “democratic order and the rule of law,” and “a peaceful and democratic solution to this crisis,” as the U.S. senators put it, flies in the face of historic, established, and emerging evidence.
Guaido has almost never had to answer to any charges of wrongdoing, since he represents the only chance the United States has to get the regime change they want in the oil-rich, socialist South American Nation.
Whether he had any right to declare
the re-election of Maduro illegitimate, one that was confirmed free and
clear of corruption by a corps
of over 100 international election observers, and whether he had any
right to declare himself Interim President, are questions that have gone
unanswered by pro-Guaido politicians in Washington.
Dissension in the ranks
This Sunday Guaido was forced to address charges of wrongdoing within the ranks of his opposition party, Popular Will, after website Armando.info reported that nine opposition lawmakers had advocated to the US Treasury on behalf of a sanctioned Colombian businessman linked to Maduro’s government.
Guaido thinks the 9 Popular Will legislators likely received illicit payments in exchange for writing the letters to the US and remarked that it was “unacceptable to use a state institution to attempt to whitewash the reputation of thieves”.
This particular scandal comes at a point when the Venezuelan people, according to a report from Reuters, concur that Guaido’s moment has passed.
While Maduro’s approval rating is
dropping fast, his recurring accusations that American imperialism is the
cause of the shortages which UN
economists estimate have been responsible for up to and now likely exceeding
40,000 deaths by starvation and deprivation, have galvanized a strong group
of core supporters around an anti-American rhetoric.
A thief himself, surrounded by a cadre of thieves, Guaido’s comments seem hypocritical in the extreme.
Since inciting an open rebellion which fell flat on its face after it became clear Maduro retained support of the military and most of the population, Guaido has been the subject of several high-profile scandals.
Guaido and his lackeys have regularly helped themselves to hundreds of thousands of dollars in USAID money that was destined to help Venezuelan refugees seeking asylum in Colombia. The money was spent on lavish hotels and resorts, expensive jewelry and watches, and trips to exclusive nightclubs in Bogota.
Another charge offers insight into some of Guaido’s motives. A man whom Venezuela exit polls showed to be a completely unknown political entity by the vast majority of Venezuelan voters, Guaido was charged in September with high treason after audio recordings of him negotiating with ExxonMobil over oil access in a disputed border region between Venezuela and Guyana were leaked to Venezuelan press.
The current Venezuelan ambassador of the opposition to the United States and one of Guaido’s closest associates Carlos Vecchio, spent most of his life working for oil companies ExxonMobil and PDVSA, the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, before Hugo Chavez nationalized it.
In 2002 Vecchio founded Ciudadania Activa, a civil association that participated in an April 2002 coup d’etat attempt in which they kidnapped then-president Hugo Chavez and spirited him away to an island. The coup eventually failed, like the recent one attempted by Guaido, due to mass public mobilization.
It was revealed
by WikiLeaks that millions of dollars were funneled from USAID into Venezuelan
opposition movements including Ciudadania Activa.
Call it quits
Despite the fact that 50 nations recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, during the last meeting of the UN General Assembly, Guaido’s accomplices appeared to Maduro’s delegation as nothing more than a bunch of criminals “nobody invited” who swirled the perimeter of the assembly “like ghosts”.
The crippling sanctions-turned-embargo on Venezuela will only serve the purpose of restoring “democracy and civil order” after the 40,000 dead from starvation and medical shortages turn to hundreds of thousands of dead and millions into refugees.
A starving population living in a society where the state owns everything, including all food, medicine, and firearms, cannot force a leader into abdication on their behalf; especially when his rhetorical platform of resisting American imperialist regime change is supported by historic, established, and emerging evidence.
Andrew Corbley is founder and editor of World at Large, an independent news outlet. He is a loyal listener of Antiwar radio and of the Scott Horton Show.