“If I buy a chicken, I have nothing else for the rest of the month. The big fishes — the senior officers — are the ones eating, getting rich, while at the bottom we have it hard,” stated a Venezuelan junior military officer spoke to CNN on background. “I would say about 80% of the army is against the government, especially the troops, who are going through a lot more than the officers,” the source added.
He would provide an additional caveat, “I would rather quit. That person could be my brother, my mother, anyone. Every Venezuelan is going through this,” when asked if he would ever open fire into a group of protestors. The reporting done by Nick Patton Walsh provides important anecdotes into the feeling of the Venezuelan military during this time of turmoil. However, it’s important to note the thoughts of these soldiers does not represent the thoughts or actions of the entirety of the military apparatus.
CNN’s @npwcnn goes inside Venezuela, where the political unrest and hunger crisis is only getting worse. People tell him: “This isn’t political, it’s survival. People are killing each other for a kilo of rice, for water.” https://t.co/xxOXkABObk pic.twitter.com/YmexYS2xch
— New Day (@NewDay) January 28, 2019
Trump Administration Plants Seeds For Military Intervention
“The White House announced new sanctions against Venezuela on Monday, warning the United States would immediately block at least $7bn [billion] in assets held offshore by Nicolas Maduro and his top officials,” The Independent began detailing the Monday announcement. “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Security Adviser John Bolton joined White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during a press conference on Monday to announce the new sanctions, which they said had been kept secret prior to the announcement,” they continued.
However, a yellow notepad National Security Advisor John Bolton was photographed holding read “5,000 troops to Columbia” a country which has a border with Venezuela. It’s possible Bolton wanted the message to get out to the press as a way to gauge reaction from United States business, defense, and other monied interests — as there was seemingly no other purpose of having the message on the front page of the notepad.
So this notepad that National Security Advisor John Bolton was holding today at the White House briefing on Venezuela says:
“Afghanistan -> Welcome the Talks. 5,000 troops to Colombia.”
— Rao Komar (@RaoKomar747) January 28, 2019
Of note, ‘OPSEC’ is an abbreviation in the intelligence community for ‘operation security.’ During the press conference on Monday and throughout the Venezuelan constitutional crisis the Trump administration has ‘left the doors open’ for a possible military intervention.
While Nicolas Maduro is extremely unpopular among the people, the United States possibly backing another coupe in Latin America brings back some rather dark memories.
US Intervention History In Latin America
Guatemala, 1954: Though the United States was initially supportive of Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz — the State Department felt his rise through the U.S.-trained and armed military would be an asset — the relationship soured as Árbenz attempted a series of land reforms that threatened the holdings of the U.S.-owned United Fruit Company. A coup in 1954 forced Árbenz from power, allowing a succession of juntas in his place. Classified details of the CIA’s involvement in the ouster of the Guatemalan leader, which included equipping rebels and paramilitary troops while the U.S. Navy blockaded the Guatemalan coast, came to light in 1999.
Dominican Republic, 1961: The brutal dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, which included the ethnic cleansing of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic and the attempted assassination of the president of Venezuela, ended when he was ambushed and killed by armed political dissidents. Though the gunman who shot Trujillo maintained that “Nobody told me to go and kill Trujillo,” he did in fact have the support of the CIA. The Church Committee found that “Material support, consisting of three pistols and three carbines, was supplied to various dissidents…. United States’ officials knew that the dissidents intended to overthrow Trujillo, probably by assassination…”
Evidence of the United States being involved in Guaido declaring himself president has yet to come to light. Yet, President Trump released a statement last week recognizing him as ‘Interim President’ nearly immediately after the declaration was made.
The possibility of Guaido being backed by the Trump administration has numerous individual on the political left in the United States to question his ideology and wonder what his long-term goals are. Although a number of others are in favor of Maduro being ousted from power.
While a complex situation beginning with Hugo Chavez‘s failed attempt to run Venezuela under a State Socialist economic plan, combined with massive corruption planted the seeds of crisis — a number of context-laden nuances are necessary to explain how Maduro only worsened the problem.
Those living in Venezuela are those suffering and the possibility of the Trump administration sending troops into a highly tense situation may not be the best course of action to ensure their safety and bring national stability.