Last January, when Nicolás Maduro was poised to be sworn in as President of Venezuela, the U.S. implemented an attempted coup d’état with its coronation of a little know politician, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s interim leader, in effect dismissing Maduro from office.
President Trump launched a propaganda campaign branding Maduro's victory as “heavily rigged,” “fraudulent,” “a sham,” “a joke,” and “a disgrace.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated, "Today interim President Juan Guaidó announced the start of Operación Libertad. The U.S. Government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated."
The U.S. National Security Advisor at the time, John Bolton, called Maduro an “illegitimate dictator.”
But, in fact, the elections in Venezuela were regarded as among the most closely monitored in the world with several international organizations affirming their fairness. Guaidó, backed by the U.S., told supporters at a rally he was ready to assume the country’s highest office despite not being elected by the people.
He even took the presidential oath in a staged ceremony and basked in the glow of high praise from President Trump, who tweeted, "The citizens of Venezuela have suffered for too long at the hands of the illegitimate Maduro regime. Today, I have officially recognized the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, as the Interim President of Venezuela.”
Last April, Guaidó, who also had the backing of some 50 U.S. allied nations, proclaimed, “We are going to stand firm here and we are asking the army and the military to join this political fight and the struggle for the Venezuelan people.”
It never happened.
President Maduro had strong support from more countries than Guaidó, notably Russia and China, along with neighbors Mexico, Cuba, and Bolivia. Most importantly, his own military stayed loyal.
Nearly a year later, Juan Guaidó’s coalition is falling apart.
An increasing number of Venezuelan politicians who had opposed Maduro are now supporting him. And, notably, Maduro’s vocal opponents in the Trump administration have been silent since their “Guaidó as President” movement has failed.
While positioning himself as a voice of the people, among the reason for his dwindling popularity was the “Cucuta” scandal embezzlement scheme, in which Guaidó allies were involved, including siphoning off money that went into their pockets rather than humanitarian aid.
And, last September, Venezuela’s interior minister displayed photos showing Guaidó with two suspected Colombian drug traffickers.
In addition, Guaidó has not been able to sell the Venezuelan people that the country’s failing economy is Maduro’s incompetency. Beyond government mismanagement and incompetency, among the main reasons for Venezuela’s financial crisis are the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States.
Washington has frozen all Venezuelan government assets in the U.S. and used its leverage to deny the country access to the global financial markets. Venezuela depends heavily on exporting oil, which has been drastically reduced by U.S. sanctions.
The results of America’s economic warfare have created a massive humanitarian crisis. According to the Brookings Institute, “Sanctions reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation.”
The report goes on to verify more than 40,000 deaths due to the sanctions.
The country’s economy has been halved in size and some 4.5 million Venezuelans have left over the past four years due to lack of food and medicine and no opportunities to find work.
TREND FORECAST: The U.S. will continue to impose harsh sanctions on Venezuela and continue its efforts to depose Maduro.
While Washington claims it is taking these regime-change actions to bring “freedom and democracy” to the Venezuelan people, last January, John Bolton, the NSA advisor at the time, made it clear: It’s oil, stupid.
He said the U.S. has “a lot at stake" given the fact that Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves: "We're in conversation with major American companies now. It would make a difference if we could have American companies produce the oil in Venezuela. It would be good for... the people of the United States."