Venezuela: While soldiers have risen on Tuesday against President Nicolas Maduro in support of his opponent Juan Guaido, return on a tangle that began in January with a disputed presidential election.
Guaido proclaims himself president
On January 23, opponents and supporters of Nicolas Maduro massively demonstrate in Venezuela, plunged into a serious political, economic and humanitarian crisis. The president’s second term, which began on January 10, is not recognized by the opposition and a part of the international community.
Juan Guaido, Speaker of the Parliament, proclaims himself “president in office” of the country, promising a “transitional government” and “free elections”. Parliament is the only institution controlled by the opposition, but a Constituent Assembly elected in mid-2017, acquired by Nicolas Maduro, has taken most of its powers.
The United States recognizes Juan Guaido, followed by Canada and several Latin American countries. Nicolas Maduro, supported notably by Russia, China and Cuba, accuses Washington of fomenting a “coup”. The army renews his support.
On January 28, Washington announces sanctions against the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, from April 28. Washington gives Juan Guaido control of Venezuelan bank accounts in the United States. On February 4, some twenty European countries recognize Juan Guaido as president. It is now recognized by fifty or so countries.
As of 7 February, several hundred tons of medicines and basic necessities are stored at the Colombian border. Juan Guaido, ready to authorize if necessary an American military intervention, announces that the aid will enter Venezuela on the 23rd. Nicolas Maduro assures that it will prevent the “show” of the humanitarian aid, seeing there the beginnings of a military intervention . He announces the arrival of 300 tons of Russian aid.
On February 22, Juan Guaido traveled to Colombia, braving a ban on leaving the country. Caracas closes the border in the state of Tachira (west), border of the Colombian city of Cucuta from where the aid is supposed to enter. Juan Guaido appears in the “Venezuela Aid Live” concert organized in Cucuta by British billionaire Richard Branson. On the other side of the border, the regime is launching a counter-concert.
On 23 February, clashes erupt on the borders with Colombia and Brazil, where protesters demand the entry of aid convoys into the country, killing four and injuring hundreds. Two trucks are burned shortly after entering Venezuela, according to Colombia, which orders the return of other vehicles. Two trucks sent by Brazil turn back. Nicolas Maduro breaks diplomatic relations with Bogota.
Guaido on tour
On February 25, Juan Guaido met in Bogota with leaders of countries hostile to President Maduro and US Vice President Mike Pence, and began a tour of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Ecuador. On March 4, Guaido returns to Caracas.
March 7 begins an unprecedented power outage that paralyzes most of the country for six days. Nicolas Maduro shouted at the “sabotage” of the Guri power station, which supplies 80% of the electricity. The experts accuse the government of not having maintained the infrastructures. According to Juan Guaido, 20 people die during the breakdown, a figure denied by the government. Supermarkets and industrial sites are ravaged during looting in Maracaibo. Other power cuts will follow.
On March 21, Juan Guaido’s right-hand man, MP Roberto Marrero, is arrested, accused of terrorism. A few days later, two Russian planes carrying a hundred soldiers and 35 tons of equipment arrived in Caracas. On the 28th, the power declares Juan Guaido ineligible for fifteen years, then lifts his parliamentary immunity.
Guaido supported by soldiers
The role of Empress Masako will also be very scrutinized. This polyglot, who gave up a promising diplomatic career to enter the imperial family, had trouble complying with the rigidity of the imperial system. “It will fulfill its obligations gradually,” Naruhito warned last year.