The Lima Group was set up for one reason: to overthrow the current government of Venezuela. It has no other purpose. Sanctions and diplomatic withdrawals are part of the Lima Group’s arsenal. Buoyed by the election of far right-wing politicians such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and enthused by the fulminations of Trump, the Lima Group has tightened the pressure.
Argentina’s Mauricio Macri went to Brasilia to meet Bolsonaro, where he condemned the “dictatorship” of Maduro, and accused him—personally—of being responsible for the difficulties in Venezuela. This is harsh language, rhetoric that sets in motion a dangerous push toward regime change in Venezuela.
The Lima Group’s violations of the UN Charter have been helped along by the Organization of American States, which held an extraordinary session to push its members to take economic and diplomatic steps for the “restoration of democratic order” in Venezuela. It perhaps needs to be emphasized that “restoration of democratic order” is a euphemism for regime change.
When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley tried to draw the UN Security Council into such language—of dictatorships and regime change—she was rebuffed by the other members. In November 2017, for instance, Bolivia, China, Egypt and Russia boycotted an informal meeting called by Haley. No other such meeting has been possible. There is worry that the Trump administration will attempt in Venezuela what the Obama administration conducted in Honduras, or worse, what the Bush administration conducted in Iraq.
Maduro was not permitted to take his oath in the National Assembly. He was blocked by Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition. That is why Maduro took his oath in the Supreme Court, a procedure that is validated by the Constitution.
Strikingly, the head of the Organization of American States—the Uruguayan politician Luis Almagro—sent out a tweet that welcomed Juan Guaidó as the president. Guaidó, to his credit, had not claimed the presidency. It was, instead, a foreign official from a regional body that has superseded the Venezuelan people and attempted to install a new president in Caracas.
More chilling has been the words from the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his department. Pompeo, in a tweet, wrote, “The time is NOW for a return to democracy in Venezuela.” The word “now”—in capitals—suggests that Pompeo is clear that there needs to be no procedures, only a coup. The day after this tweet, Pompeo’s department said, “It’s time to begin the orderly transition to a new government.” One does not need to read between the lines to know that this is a call for regime change, for a coup, and that it comes from Washington, D.C.
Trump’s national security adviser—John Bolton—coined the phrase “troika of tyranny” that includes Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. It is plain as day that the United States wants to overthrow the governments in each of these countries, and perhaps Bolivia as well. These are dangerous portents.
Those troops that Trump is withdrawing from Syria might not be going home anytime soon. They might find themselves deployed soon enough on the beaches of Punto Fijo, facing a Bay of Pigs style resistance from the Chavistas.
Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.