Following on yesterday's confusing announcement by opposition leader and Venezuelan National Assembly president, Juan Guaidó, declaring himself 'interim president' and calling on the armed forces to rebel against President Nicolas Maduro, the U.S. Statement Department today appears to be encouraging his apparently unlawful usurpation of executive power.
In an official statement issued this morning by the Secretary of State's press office, Ensuring Venezuela's Constitutional Order and Safety of Elected Officials, the Trump administration says it "commends the courage of the National Assembly’s leadership, particularly its president, Juan Guaido, and his decision to invoke the authorities of the Venezuelan Constitution".
Is this an endorsement of the opposition's power grab? The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is comprised of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations, plus the U.S. and Canada, has already endorsed the coup and recognized Guaido has the 'interim president' of Venezuela, rejecting Maduro's new term which began last January 10.
For his part, Maduro has rejected the opposition's claim to power as a 'show' and called for the 'peace and tranquility of the nation to be guaranteed by civilian-military unity', adding that 'no show will impede us from doing what we were elected to do.'
In 2002, the U.S. government supported a failed coup d'etat against then President Hugo Chávez. I wrote a book (The Chavez Code) about the expansive and intricate role Washington played in that coup through its various agencies and funding entities, based on my research and discoveries using the Freedom of Information Act. It would not be surprising if Washington was once again engaging in coup-like tactics to overthrow a government that refuses to subordinate itself to U.S. agenda and also happens to control the largest oil reserves on the planet.
We stand with the Venezuelan people, and we praise the fierce commitment to democratic principles of the elected members of the Venezuelan National Assembly. We commend the courage of the National Assembly’s leadership, particularly its president, Juan Guaido, and his decision to invoke the authorities of the Venezuelan Constitution.
We call on all Venezuelans to uphold and respect the role of the National Assembly, as established in the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999, and, in particular, for the security forces and the armed forces to respect all protections the constitution affords to Guaido and the other members of the National Assembly, especially their safety and welfare.
The people of Venezuela deserve to live in freedom in a democratic society governed by the rule of law. It is time to begin the orderly transition to a new government. We support the National Assembly’s call for all Venezuelans to work together, peacefully, to restore constitutional government and build a better future.
The United States government will continue to use the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.