Day X is Coming to Venezuela: Guaido’s Self-Proclaimed Rule Set to Expire on the 23rd of February
Day X in Venezuela is coming on the 23rd of February. That's the date of expiration of the temporary term of office issued for himself by self-proclaimed president Guaidó. However, there has been no office. There were only declarations about this office. The army is still loyal to Maduro, the legitimately elected president. On Saturday, Guaidó, who is directly supported by the USA and its allies, gave the army 8 days to determine their position. In other words, by the 23rd of February. What is Guaidó going to do after that? He won't say.
Anyway, it is known that it's on the 23rd of February when the so-called humanitarian help, enforced by the USA, is due to be delivered over the Colombian border. And the 23rd of February is when Guaidó will be summoning his supporters for a grandiose rally in support of himself. It's dreadful even to think what this meeting may transform into. We may see a repetition of the time-tested plot involving unknown snipers, much like at Euromaidan.
Valentin Bogdanov is reporting from Caracas.
It's the National Assembly of Venezuela, the official workplace of Juan Guaidó, who proclaimed himself president. To keep an eye on the impostor, Nicolás Maduro's supporters established their outpost just across the street. In this red tent, the Hot Corner team is collecting signatures against American aggression. It may start under the pretense of delivery of humanitarian aid. During what was yet another decisive meeting, the impostor president announced the opening of another drop-off station for the mysterious packages from the USA. «If they care about us so much, they'd better lift sanctions,» say people who don't attend Guaidó's meetings.
«We've got enough food, we don't need the humanitarian help that is being sent from the USA. Yes, we do get help, it comes from our president».
The nation that waged an economic war against Venezuela stays in Caracas. Despite the fact that diplomatic relations have been ruptured, the American flag is still soaring over the concrete cube of the American embassy. The remaining diplomats are watchfully protected. The police appear as soon as we uncased the camera. In the end, an embassy employee went out to us, but we didn't get the interview with the plainclothes officer.
— Is there someone who deals with the press?
— Don't talk to me, give me your microphone.
The American mission is located in a rich district of Caracas. But there is another capital. Caracas is the city of controversial political dimensions. Pro-western supporters of Guaidó live predominantly in the East, those supporting Maduro live in the West. In terms of wealth, it's controversial again: comparatively well-off quarters are downhill, and uphill, where we are going in this cable-way, there are so-called Barrios. The cableway was launched at the time of Hugo Chávez. The comandante started relocating people from plywood cabins to these high-rise buildings with all their amenities. Young people went to colleges. Our fellow traveler is delivering his enrollment papers, by the way.
Ernesto Chakon, enrollee: «I don't agree with the intervention because it means the loss of many innocent lives, it means a real tragedy caused by a random person».
The silver lining is the graffiti depicting the right people on every corner of these streets where incumbent president Nicolás Maduro spent his youth.
Despite the shabby appearance, Barrios, located on the San Augustin hill, is an important spot on the cultural map of Caracas. 24 Grammy prize-winners were born in this slum. Even though their countrymen are popular in the States, America is not popular with locals.
Nancy Narvaes has not benefited from the relocation program yet, however, she is still grateful to the Venezuelan authorities.
Nancy Narvaes, Caracas resident: «They gave us everything, many of us didn't even have papers or an opportunity to study. We were illiterate, barefoot, unkempt».
For people like Nancy, the Bolivarian Revolution is a sort of religion, with Simón Bolívar and Hugo Chávez as its main icons.
Chávez coordinated the armed uprising from this building. Now, it houses his mausoleum, there's a sarcophagus in the center of the memorial, with an honor guard next to it. Under the hill, there is the Miraflores presidential palace. Now, it's surrounded by machine gun nests. At 4:20 pm, an artillery section appears near an ancient cannon. At 4:25, at the time of Comandante's death, the cannon goes off. Chávez's addresses to the nation were like thunder too. He himself hosted a live TV-show, Hello, President!.. Most often, he was seated at this table.
— Is this Chávez's table?
— Yes. Yes, this table actually belonged to Chávez. He was sitting at it when hosting his Hello, President! radio programs.
Millions of viewers trust Larisa Acosta, and Guaidó would certainly like her to join his camp. However, despite the calls from Washington, there are no cases of mass mutiny in the press or the military.
Larisa Acosta, TV-host: «There is a saying, 'your wish is not enough to get you pregnant.' The opposition must obey the laws. Since, otherwise, tomorrow, the USA might attack any legal institution in any other country, all the laws, and the entire government, in order enforce the will of Trump's corporation in this country. Nobody would agree to this».
That's why they're trying to defeat Venezuela by economic means, with sanctions, thus aggravating crime by means of social instability.
You'd better have guards if you're going to move around Caracas with filming equipment. Our car is accompanied by a motorbike.
Evgeniya de Madrid, correspondent: As recently as two years ago, I could ride the subway. Now I took off my gold earnings. I don't wear a watch. That's it.
— As a person that has lived here for 7 years, to what can you attribute the increase in crime?
— They no longer control the situation. After Chávez's death, everything changed. Now, there is a lot of police. In recent months, I can see that the fight against crime has stepped up, thank God.
Special police units carry their arms with them even during the day.
— Do you like the Kalashnikov? Do you like it?
— I like it because it's very well-made. It's made in Russia. It's very reliable.
He is guarding this Mercal store. They sell fixed-price food packages. It's not anything special, but they let people survive.
— What is there in this bag?
— They didn't put sugar, milk, or grains in there this time. Each year, there are less and less groceries.
On the bright side, they have recently added chicken.
Victor Sequera, Distribution Service: «We don't need this humanitarian help. For 4 years already, we've been distributing packages with various groceries. From 14 to 15 items. This package costs 100 sovereign bolivars».
It's an equivalent of 3 US cents. But American authorities try to present this situation as a humanitarian catastrophe. Venezuelans are anxiously waiting for the 23rd of February. We can only guess what will happen. Fidel Ortegosa does it professionally. Babalawo, a wizard in a cult popular among Latin American residents of African origin, Santeria reads fortunes in pieces of a coconut. He cast it five times to make sure.
Fidel Ortegosa: «The highest oracle Orunmila says that everybody should stay calm and not become aggressive. Because if we don't get a hold of ourselves, it may lead to bloodshed. We are peaceful people».
In 6 days, it will be very important for Venezuelans, despite possible provocations, to confirm this statement once again.
Valentin Bogdanov and Ivan Utkin, Vesti Weekly, from Venezuela.