President Trump has warned Venezuela that the US is preparing “crippling” and “impactful measures” to force Nicolás Maduro from power. His warnings came during his meeting with opposition coalition leader Juan Guaidó, who met with Trump at the White House this past Wednesday.
“We are probably halfway to what maximum pressure [on Maduro] could look like,” a senior administration official told the press earlier. “We are only moving in one direction and that is forwards.”
Guaidó’s Repeated Failures
So far, Juan Guaidó’s multiple US-backed coups in Venezuela have all failed. The final failure came in January when journalists claimed that Guaidó faked an incident in which he claimed he was blocked from entering Venezuela’s National Assembly by security forces. The staged incident was in response to learning that the opposition lawmakers were replacing him as National Assembly president. Guaidó was hoping the stunt would gain him support from international leaders.
What actually happened is that Guaidó had refused to enter the National Assembly unless permitted to enter with eleven former members of the National Assembly. They included members who had been barred from serving by Venezuela’s Supreme Court, after allegedly concocting a voter-buying scheme in their elections. Other members of the eleven-strong group had parliamentary immunity stripped from them after participating in another Guaidó-led uprising in April last year.
Maduro’s 2018 Re-election
During the 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections, President Nicolás Maduro was democratically and constitutionally re-elected, after agreeing to the opposition demanding an early election. Maduro, the late President Hugo Chávez’s mentee, won by a wide margin with 67.48% of votes, followed by Henri Falcón’s 20.93% of votes.
During this time, Guaidó illegally declared himself interim president, despite none of the constitutional conditions for doing so being met. US Vice President, Mike Pence, would go on to congratulate Guaidó on becoming interim president.
Guaidó’s Unsuccessful 2019 Coup Attempt
By April 2019 Guaidó would attempt another unsuccessful coup, stating that: “The time to topple Maduro’s regime is right now.”
Presently, authorities have stripped Guaidó of parliamentary immunity, and are carrying out multiple investigations against him. Like Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition are currently in total disarray.
Dr. Francisco Eissa-Barroso, a lecturer in Latin American History at The University of Manchester said: “I don’t know if the US will succeed in placing a US-backed president in power in Venezuela, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do.
“Short of a military intervention—either openly carried out by US forces, which seems unlikely, or covertly by providing arms, equipment, training and tactical support to the still small group of Guaidó supporters within the Venezuelan armed forces—I struggle to see what Trump could do in the short term to achieve his aim. In the medium run, however, it seems likely that whatever replaces Maduro’s regime will be much more to the US’s liking,” Eissa-Barroso added.
The Roots Of Venezuela’s Current Conflict
For Eissa-Barroso, however, the situation is far more complicated than reported, and dates back to Venezuela’s deeply-entrenched socialist ideologies, and its long-standing history with the US.
“In the 2015 legislative election when Maduro lost control of the National Assembly to what would have been an opposition qualified [two-thirds] majority, rather than accept the result of the election, Maduro used the Supreme Court to deprive four members of the opposition of their seats so that opposing parties no longer held a qualified majority,” Eissa-Barroso explained.
‘Maduro’s Decision Not To Accept The Result Of … 2015 Election’ Were The Beginning Of The Current Problems
“When the Assembly refused to accept this decision, the Court deprived the Assembly of its legislative powers and claimed them for itself until they could be transferred to the new Constituent Assembly. Maduro’s decision not to accept the result of the 2015 legislative election marked the beginning of the current political crisis,” Eissa-Barroso said, adding that “as for the 2018 presidential election, yes, Maduro won it fairly and relatively democratically … but his stronger challengers were excluded from running in the first place.”
‘The Very Real Achievements Of Chávez’s Government’
Eissa-Barroso believes part of the failure of US attempts to oust Maduro rest in the past achievements of Chávez.
“I think the more interesting issue here, is why US attempts to overthrow Maduro by providing political support to the right-wing opposition, and tightening economic restrictions, have failed. To do so, we need to remember the very real achievements of Chávez’s government in terms of redressing long standing economic and political inequality in Venezuela up to 2008 or 2010,” Eissa-Barroso said.
“The very tangible benefits that Chávez delivered to poorer sectors of the country’s population, alongside what turned out to be a very successful anti-American rhetoric, are what explain the sustained support for Maduro despite his unquestionably inept management of the economic and political situation since he came to power,” Eissa-Barroso added, noting that “an intrinsic dislike of the US as an exploitative and interventionist power is ingrained in large sectors of Latin America’s population, particularly the huge sectors which haven’t benefited from US investment, intervention and US-backed neo-liberal policies.”