After U.S. Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams addressed a group of journalists on Friday, March 15, to discuss the progress made in the Venezuelan conflict – when the multidimensional attack on the national electricity system for several days, which the US tried to take advantage of, blaming it on domestic corruption of the Venezuelan government and disinvestment in the country’s electricity infrastructure –, he diagnosed: “What is the impact of this situation on the longevity of the regime? Obviously it is going to shorten the life of the regime (…) We are not making any predictions and, looking back, we see that, in general, neither we nor anyone else has been very good at predicting when regimes fall.”
This uncertainty about how long it may take to achieve the coup objectives that officials like Mike Pence, John Bolton, Elliott Abrams and President Donald Trump himself have publicly supported, and the lack of consensus on the military option on the part of their political allies in the Latin American region, undermines the vigour of US attempts at political intimidation and their predictions about the imminence of the fall of Chavismo.
One of the serious problems currently facing the Trump Administration is that, despite the support that subordinated countries of the international community lend to the artificial presidency of Juan Guaidó, they have not led to any real power within Venezuelan institutions.
It should be noted that while this support is widely publicised, in practice it is undermined when the most hostile countries end up giving in to the will of the legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro, as it was with the withdrawal of all U.S. officials from Venezuelan soil immediately after the president announced the 72-hour deadline for all the U.S. embassy personnel to leave the country.
The reason, according to Elliott, is not to obey Maduro’s order, but “it is a pragmatic response to a complex situation”.
COUNTING THE “TRIUMPHS” OF ANTI-CHAVISMO?
What is the balance sheet of Washington’s offensives on the eve of the first quarter of the year? Guaidó himself is unable to conceal the poor results in evaluating the roadmap followed that by now should have taken him to the presidential palace.
He explains that the victories since his self-proclamation are summarized in the “world’s” support for his interim presidency, referring to the recognition of 60 of the 193 countries that are part of the United Nations.
Also the “rescue of our assets” which is nothing other than the theft of Venezuelan assets with the ‘legal’ consent of the National Assembly (in contempt), that are to be administered directly by the U.S. Treasury Department and, among other things, finance the activities seeking to bring about regime change.
Finally, he mentions the “organizational” balance sheet of volunteers who were enlisted in the failed “humanitarian aid” show and the defection, according to figures issued by the Colombian Foreign Ministry, of 700 police and military officers who crossed the Colombian-Venezuelan border in response to the call of the self-appointed ‘interim president’ of Venezuela; the latter currently face, along with the “volunteers” who were also left behind in Cúcuta at the end of the confrontation on the Simón Bolívar bridge, their abandonment by the opposition leadership.
YET ANOTHER “FINAL MARCH” TO MIRAFLORES?
During a political event in the state of Carabobo, Juan Guaidó announced this weekend – without mentioning the date –, a tour of Venezuela so as to stage a national mobilization to the presidential palace of Miraflores.
The manoeuvre comes in the same “D-Day” format that has sometimes been used by anti-Chavista forces under previous, now vanished, leaderships, is an attempt to regroup – after the mistakes in the political plan of laying siege on Venezuela began with the January 10 presidential self-proclamation – manufactured in the United States.
Prior to this, they wanted to take advantage of the chaos caused by the deliberate attack on the Hydroelectric Complex, encouraging street violence through looting local businesses and protests, but which did not have the expected outcome.
This time, the so-called “Operation Freedom” proposes the creation of committees to encourage protests and civil disobedience in the streets, according to Guaidó’s own words published in his Twitter account. Included in the strategy are employees of public institutions, who are called to ignore the Venezuelan state in a “great national strike,” supporting regime change.
In addition, it stresses continuing to make golpistacalls on the Bolivarian Armed Forces, an institution that has monolithically rejected attempts to fracture the unity of its components.
An operation that does not promise innovations in its methods of aggression, after the failed entry of “humanitarian aid” through the borders of Colombia, Brazil and the maritime borders with Curacao, as the strong card of US policy towards Venezuela, within the framework of the “humanitarian aid” propaganda that also unleashed the increase of the financial pressures against PDVSA, the state oil company, and the Central Bank of Venezuela, that wouldn’t produce not even access to any of the trucks to Venezuelan territory.
It does not suggest a significant increase in support for the interfering measures have for the among the population since it does not propose a creative alternative to the usual ones to mobilize followers.
CONTRADICTIONS IN THE METHODS TO APPROACH VENEZUELA
Parallel to what is happening within the national territory, there is a meeting between Elliott Abrams and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Riabkov in Italy. The reason for the meeting, according to the U.S. State Department, is “the deterioration of the situation in Venezuela.”
The meeting held March 18-19 in Rome and attended by Italian officials, including Pietro Benassi, diplomatic advisor to Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte. The country is one of the member states of the European Union that have not adopted a solid position in support for the creation of a parallel government in Venezuela.
Despite US insistence to dismiss Russia, Vice Chancellor Riabkov made it clear that Russia’s confirms its stance of the “inadmissibility of armed intervention in Venezuelan affairs by Washington” while guaranteeing the maintenance of bilateral relations in the military and energy area with Venezuela.
Thus, we have the messy steps taken by Washington with respect to Venezuela, in a context where the ‘transitional government’ loses strength well before is able to capitalize real power at the level of the national executive, and military actions do not happen because of a lack of an event to trigger them.
Meanwhile, time goes by and the flaws in the false legal arguments fabricated to legitimize Guaidó’s interim presidency are exposed, making it easy prey for the media to have a go against the Trump Administration that has its own power conflict in the United States.
ABRAMS AND THE CRISIS OF IMAGINATION IN THE U.S.
The mechanical repetition of overused arguments to try and force the fall of Chavismo is evidence of the lack of creative options in the US political arena. Yet again, Venezuela faces another “final march” towards Miraflores and knows very well what to expect: alteration of public order, provocations to the security forces to generate confrontations and maybe desertions of some figures from the political and military sectors that will be used by the anti-Chávez media.
This is an agenda that includes the financing of paramilitary cells that would act in simultaneity with civilian mobilizations but that also seem to be breaking down both by the intelligence work done by Venezuelan organisms and by the lack of organization of those in charge of implementing them.
A far cry from the possibility to recreate a scenario similar to that of the 2017 street violence and with the same effectiveness since the methods used to promote and sustain it have been dismantled. Moreover, this experience left an unprecedented experience for the defence of both the military and social components of Chavismo against an irregular war. Hence, attempts to return to that point are dismantled ever faster. A different result cannot be expected if the same formula is applied.
Translated by Francisco Domínguez.