Counter-Coup in Caracas! Maduro’s Supporters Flood the Streets in Support of Their President
Crowds of President Nicolás Maduro's supporters filled the streets of Caracas. People are dancing with flags and banners. They're not only expressing their support for the head of the state but also celebrating the 20th anniversary of Maduro's predecessor's, Hugo Chávez, coming to power. At the same time, groups of opposing Venezuelans also took to the streets.
Arkadiy Glushenkov has the details.
Saturday was rich in events for the capital of Venezuela. The opposition was calling people to fight the legally elected government in an elite trade district of Caracas, somewhere in between Mercedes Avenue and New York Street. Meanwhile, the supporters of the incumbent president didn't just plead their loyalty to Nicolás Maduro but also celebrated a significant date, the 20th anniversary of Hugo Chávez coming to power. Besides, they chose a symbolic place, Simón Bolívar Avenue, which is named after another revolutionary national hero. The demonstration, comprising of thousands of citizens, was accompanied by the sound of drums and songs. From time to time, you could hear a chant, «Gringo, go home!», a call to Washington to not interfere.
The USA's idea of Venezuelan democracy, however, differs from the common one. The US Vice President, Mike Pence, during his speech at a rally in Florida, stated openly: it's not the time for dialogue, it's necessary to get rid of Maduro.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE USA: «To be clear, the struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy. And freedom has the momentum. Nicolás Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power. And Nicolás Maduro must go. This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action. And the time has come to end Maduro's dictatorship once and for all».
The actions of Venezuela's neighboring country, Columbia, betray the USA's preparation for the violent scenario. Its army has started to deploy its forces along the border. Social media users have posted footage of heavy vehicles being transported, at night, without drawing too much attention. The opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, who declared himself a president, seems to also be preparing for the possibility of a military coup d'état. But his tactics raise questions as well. For example, filming a defected general in his agitation videos.
«I'm General Francisco Esteban Yanez Rodriguez, director of strategic planning in the high command of the Bolivarian Air Force. I recognize Deputy Guaidó as the interim president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. I'm calling on the entire people of Venezuela to peacefully take to the streets to protect our president, Guaidó».
The United States, it seems, is not happy to see this development. For example, Trump's National Security Advisor, John Bolton, who openly showed to journalists a notebook with a note to send thousands of soldiers to Columbia, is now trying to clear himself. He says that there are other options. Maybe it's because their closest ally, Canada, hasn't supported the USA's military ambitions.
HARJIT SAJJAN, MINISTER OF DEFENSE: «It's very important for us to work together with our allies during the discussion of this problem to develop a peaceful solution to this issue. That's what important for us. The same is important for Venezuela as well. I'm confident that, when it comes to the negotiations, our MFA will choose an exclusively diplomatic path to find a peaceful solution».
Peru's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Néstor Popolizio, expressed a similar position. He stated that the Lima Group, 12 countries of North, South, and Central America, which have been discussing the situation in Venezuela for more than a year, is to meet in Canada on Monday to work out a mutual, peaceful solution. The United States has not been invited to this meeting. As Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, put it, «Washington doesn't take into account the complexity of the matter, that military intervention won't provide a quick solution».
Arkadiy Glushenkov, Eugenia Zemtsova, Vesti.