CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A month into Venezuela’s high-stakes political crisis, President Nicolas Maduro revealed in an Associated Press interview that his government has held secret talks with the Trump administration. He also predicted he would survive an unprecedented global campaign to force his resignation.
While harshly criticizing President Donald Trump’s confrontational stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said Thursday that he holds out hope of meeting the U.S. president soon to resolve a crisis triggered by America’s recognition of his opponent, Juan Guaido, as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
Maduro said that during two meetings in New York, his foreign minister invited the Washington-based special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, to visit “privately, publicly or secretly.”
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba charged on Thursday that the United States was secretly moving special forces closer to Venezuela as part of a plan to intervene in the South American country using the pretext of a humanitarian crisis.
A “Declaration of the Revolutionary Government” charged recent events in the country amounted to an attempted coup that had so far failed.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been trying to pressure Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down and hand over power to Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
OTTAWA — Some Venezuelan members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees are demanding the union retract or amend its controversial statement about Venezuela’s political situation, which they say contains “patently false” claims.
But in an internal memo, obtained by the National Post, CUPE’s national president Mark Hancock has doubled down on the union’s position “publicly objecting to the Trudeau government’s interventions in Venezuela,” saying last week that the union stands by its previous statement and won’t be saying anything new.
The political crisis in Venezuela has pitted the U.S. against a dictator who refuses to leave office. But the crisis has a broader significance: It shows that Latin America has again become an arena in which rival great powers struggle for influence and advantage. As the U.S. faces surging geopolitical rivalry around the world, its position is also coming under pressure in its own backyard.
In the final weeks of Hugo Chávez’s life, shattered followers flocked to a palm-dotted square in downtown Caracas to pray for the recovery of “El Comandante”.
Six years on, with Chávez’s leftist Bolivarian revolution seemingly in its death throes, some are returning to appeal for the survival of his successor, Nicolás Maduro. “There are millions of us,” insisted Fernando Andrade, 69, a retired electrician and one of hundreds of mostly elderly Chavistas queuing to sign a pro-Maduro petition in Plaza Bolívar last week. A few hours later, Maduro appeared and was greeted with chants of: “Maduro, amigo! El pueblo está contigo!” “Maduro, our friend! The people are with you!”
But as a revolt against Chávez’s heir enters its fourth week, political observers and former Chavista insiders say that claim to popular support has never been flimsier.
Ignoring empty supermarkets, dwindling medical supplies and massive inflation, the ghetto heartlands of the country’s capital Caracas remain loyal to the corrupt socialist, who has creamed off millions for personal gain.
“People are eating from trash cans in the streets, so how has socialism helped?” another protestor said. “Socialism is a big lie to people who are disadvantaged. It actually makes them worse off.”
In this dingy building in a suburb of Caracas, Hugo Chávez is very much alive. A statue of Venezuela’s late president, dressed in military uniform, stands prominently at a corner of the main room as if welcoming everyone who enters.
Glued to the decaying wall, a picture of him smiling, printed on the yellow, blue and red colours of the national flag, looks over the table where Subero and his men spend hours in meetings.
Subero’s decades-old links to Chávez go far beyond ideology. The 47-year-old retired sergeant fought in the attempt Chávez led on 4 February 1992 to overthrow then-President Carlos Andrés Pérez. The movement failed, and Subero, Chávez and others spent some of the following years in jail.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems most comfortable when he’s signalling virtue, or delivering Captain-Kirk-like lectures on peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.
Freeland’s comments come after the Lima Group concluded a day-long emergency summit in Ottawa by proclaiming Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido a full member of the multi-nation group while reiterating its call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Ousting Maduro from Venezuela without violence appears unlikely, experts say
“I don’t see Maduro leaving peacefully,” said Eric Farnsworth, a former State Department official who is now a vice president of the Council of the Americas and a supporter of the decision to recognize Guaidó. “He’s not going to wake up with an epiphany, he’s going to have to be forced out. If it happens, it’s going to be by Venezuelans… members of the security forces or members of his own coalition, if they see him as ineffective.”
OTTAWA — Four Canadian unions helped fund a private delegation to observe the Venezuelan presidential election last year, even as Canada, the United States and President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents decried the results as illegitimate.
With many of Maduro’s opponents in jail or barred from running for office and the country’s legislative system already weakened under his rule, opposition leaders had urged international observers not to travel to Caracas to lend legitimacy to the May 2018 proceedings.
Nicolás Maduro has hit back at the “cowardly” and “disastrous” decision of a succession of European countries to recognise his rival, Juan Guaidó, as interim president, as Venezuela enters what many observers believe could be a critical week in its fast-escalating political crisis.
Addressing a military rally in the northern state of Aragua, Maduro said he was the target of a “gringo” plot to overthrow the Bolivarian revolution he had inherited from his political mentor, Hugo Chávez, after his death in 2013.
“I, Nicolás Maduro Moros, the legitimate and constitutional president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, swear … that I will defend with my very own life this homeland of Venezuela,” he vowed.
A general from the Venezuelan air force has announced he no longer recognises Nicolas Maduro as the country’s president, in what appears to be the highest ranking military defection to hit the regime.
In a video circulating on social media on Saturday ahead of mass protests planned in Caracas, General Francisco Esteban Yanez Rodriguez says he has disavowed the “dictatorial” authority of Mr Maduro and now recognises Juan Guaido, the self-declared interim president, as Venezuela’s leader.
Jose Moncon was on the way home from his school for the mentally disabled, clutching nothing more threatening than his colouring book, when a demonstration blocked the road ahead and forced him to take a detour.
Moments later, a police snatch squad coming the other way scooped him up and put him in prison for unspecified crimes against the state.
He is severely epileptic and has the mental age of a ten-year-old. But because Jose is 21 and classed as an adult, he shares an airless cell with 18 other adult men, many of them hardened criminals. As Venezuela is jostling for top spot in the world homicide league, there are plenty of those around here.
As the political and economic pressure on Nicolás Maduro mounts, Venezuela’s president believes there is one person he can rely on – Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin has accused the opposition leader Juan Guaidó of an “illegal attempt to seize power”, backed by the United States. Moscow says it will do “everything required” to support Nicolás Maduro as Venezuela’s “legitimate president”.
But Russia’s appetite for protecting relations with Caracas may be more limited than its rhetoric suggests.