Venezuela: barricades at the borders

Submitted by AWL on 13 February, 2019 - 10:44 Author: Eduardo Tovar
aid at the border

Three weeks after Juan Guaidó declared himself president of Venezuela, on 23 January, neither Guaidó nor the sitting president, Nicolás Maduro, shows any sign of backing down.

On Thursday 7 February, a convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid reached the Tienditas international bridge on the Venezuela-Colombia border. Venezuelan troops barricaded the bridge with two shipping containers and a fuel tanker.

From Guaidó’s perspective, the international aid convoy presents something of a win-win scenario in terms of political pressure on Maduro. If Maduro accepts the shipments, he will look weak; if he rejects them, Guaidó, the White House, and other forces opposed to Maduro can point to him preventing vital aid from reaching his desperate people. So far, Maduro remains firm in preventing the shipments from entering the country, defiantly telling his troops that “We [Venezuelans] are not beggars” and dismissing the shipments as a mere “political show” to destabilise his government. He also continues to warn of the humanitarian crisis being used as a pretext for a military intervention.

On 5 February, several former ministers of Hugo Chávez, including Rodrigo Cabezas and Héctor Navarro, reportedly met with Guaidó to make proposals as to how to solve the crisis. This appears to be the first time that figures from the Chavista left, albeit its dissident wing, have attempted to enter a rapprochement with the new leader of the majority in the National Assembly. Some foreign governments have made efforts to produce a resolution to the crisis.

The International Conference on the Situation in Venezuela – originally launched by Uruguay and Mexico, but also backed by Costa Rica, Bolivia, and Ecuador – resulted in a “Contact Group” meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay on 7 February. The meeting enjoyed support from both Maduro and the EU, and more than a dozen European and Latin American ministers attended. However, Maduro ultimately rejected the declaration the Contact Group produced, which called for new presidential elections in Venezuela. Despite having co-sponsored the conference, Mexico refused to sign the resolution, citing its constitutional commitments to non-interference in other countries, as did Bolivia. It is difficult to judge how the situation will unfold from this point.

So far, the majority of the Venezuelan military still seems loyal to Maduro, though army Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez has now declared in favour of Guaidó, joining air force General Yanez Rodriguez’s reported defection the previous week. Our solidarity remains with the Venezuelan workers as they navigate these turbulent waters.

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