Guaido gone?

By Raffique Shah
December 24, 2019

Raffique ShahAt the beginning of this year, the economic and political crisis that had gripped neighbouring Venezuela from almost a decade earlier exploded on the streets and other public places as hundreds of thousands of people participated in colourful, noisy, and sometimes violent protests, many against, some supportive of, the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Little did we know then that the fire next door would impact tiny Trinidad and Tobago the way it did, and continues to do, spawning a spillover that shook this country’s demographics in a way we had not experienced for generations. Most of us alive today will know little about the steady flow of migrants from the Eastern Caribbean islands and Guyana, that spanned almost half of the 20th Century, and coincided with the growth of the oil industry here.

In the current crisis that was, in part, fuelled by the geopolitics of the region, US President Donald Trump intervened through the Organisation of American States (always the OAS in this part of the world) and some powerful, distant NATO countries in a bid to remove President Nicolas Maduro and his leftist regime from power. By February, they had unearthed an obscure right-wing member of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, and proclaimed him interim president of Venezuela. They also amassed the military might of common-borders-countries Colombia and Brazil to both intimidate Maduro and oversee the flight of an estimated three million economic refugees.

The drums of regime-changing war, used in the new millennium with murderous efficacy in far-off countries like Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, could be heard here in T&T, echoing across the Gulf of Paria, accompanying thousands of refugees fleeing our way, a mere seven miles from the mainland at some points. Oil, the commodity that launched hundreds of conflicts and skirmishes in countries large and small, insignificant and strategic, was also a root cause of this showdown, although the principal purveyor of mindless bloodshed has attributed the threat of war to a seemingly simple issue: democracy vs dictatorship.

As one of the pawns on the hemispheric chessboard, we in T&T were expected to rally behind America without so much as thinking, even if that meant sacrificing our national sovereignty and human dignity. After all, countries far mightier than ours had readily surrendered to Washington’s whims. It mattered not that we were being summoned to ignore the charters of international bodies like the United Nations regarding the legitimacy of governments that must be recognised by their member states.

Maduro had won the presidential election, albeit by a narrow margin. Unless the elections were annulled by a court of law, he remained the lawful president of Venezuela.

Guaido had no such standing. In fact, he came to the fore by a series of bizarre occurrences that saw the USA and several OAS heads of governments refusing to recognise Maduro. They manipulated the crisis that had by then threatened to destabilise several neighbouring countries, Colombia and T&T being overwhelmed by so-called refugees who were fleeing Venezuela because of dire economic circumstances, hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods.

Guaido himself must have been shocked when, in February, he received orders from US Vice President Mike Pence to seize leadership of the anti-Maduro movement, create as much mischief as he could, and the US would back him all the way to the presidency in Caracas. It was a done deal, he will have been assured—and the kid took it very seriously.

To demonstrate just how easily Guaido was duped into believing that he would occupy the presidential palace, Mira Flores, in short order, Pence and Trump had duped other leaders of stature, among them Canada’s Trudeau and most of the European Union heads of government.

To his credit, T&T’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley maintained a level head in the midst of the madness when torrents of abuse were hurled at him for not going with the flow, not recognizing Guaido, staying with the duly-elected Maduro. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, displaying that she was out of depth in international affairs, called on Rowley to pledge support for the US puppet.

In fact, the chorus for toeing the US line was deafening: political commentators almost to a man (and woman) mindlessly chanted, “Guaido! Guaido!” My colleague Mariano Browne gave Maduro two weeks to ride out of town, presumably dead or alive. And Ralph Maraj led the pack that branded the besieged president an “evil dictator” without a shred of evidence of him having committed atrocities such as mowing down anti-government protestors with machine guns.

Indeed, if anything, I thought the troops who faced masked protesters who hurled firebombs at them, exercised remarkable restraint. Also, there were no attempts by Venezuela’s security forces to prevent nationals from leaving or re-entering the country through border crossings, ports and airports. In fact many “refugees” who routinely enter T&T to work, legally or illegally, frequently return home to repatriate their earnings.

And the Rowley government, which faced very vocal criticisms from ingrates like Yesenia Gonzalez and other Venezuelans who have enjoyed nothing but Trini-hospitality here, recently received plaudits from the Vatican for the systems it used to treat with refugees who chose to regularise their status and comply with our laws and immigration regulations.

Further, Rowley’s stance on Guaido has proved to be the correct path: we are at the end of the year, Maduro is still in office as the official president, and the 50-odd countries that ditched him in favour of Guaido are wondering where their man is. The Washington Post reported last week that members of his cabal face allegations of corruption. He hardly attracts attention, far less crowds, and speculation is rife that Washington will soon ditch him, presumably for some other fool.

Oh Ye of great faith in men of little substance…

7 thoughts on “Guaido gone?”

  1. Took some balls to go up against the mighty American empire,Rowley looks like he made the right decision so far.

  2. Maduro controls the military and the elitist(1%) are loyal to him. Guaido had the support of the suffering peasants. When Castro seized power in Cuba he had to hide in the Sierra mountains and there he trained his military force. Gurella warfare back in those days was the solution. A case of hit sudden, hit hard and retreat to the mountains.

    Guaido is a family man who could not repeat Castro feat. With a US election looming and the internal politics taking precedence, not much will happen next year. However, whoever takes the seat of power in Washington will have Maduro the backyard dictator in their sight. As Bush attempted to assassinate Chavez. He failed but manage to get the cancerous Chavez out of the picture. Maduro days are good for now until after the US elections. America has a history to supporting crooked regimes and deposing those whom they don’t like. It must be noted a B52 bomber from Fort Brag is just a couple hours away. So no one should think Maduro is a perpetual leader…just a matter of time.

    1. Mamoo said: “Maduro controls the military and the elitist(1%) are loyal to him. Guaido had the support of the suffering peasants.”

      You have this upside down. The wealthy whites are anti-Maduro. The majority of the upper classes do not even care for the US puppet, Guaido. Maduro’s main support comes from the Mestizos and other non-White elements of Venezuela.

      1. But Acosta-Alzuru doesn’t see it that way.

        “The kids that are throwing stones are not rich kids,” she said “These are kids who come from other socio-economic backgrounds that say they cannot protest in the poor neighborhoods because those are controlled by the pro-government militias. So they come here to do this.”

  3. Mamoo. The “kids” you talk of are not “kids” they are bought and paid for by the 1% do their dirty work. They so dishonest and cowards they cannot fight for what they believe. Your assertion is completely upside down. You want to support the opposition so much you have lost your sense of clarity and judgement. Hugo Chavez was supported by the poor down trodden people. The 1% did not like the idea of redistribution wealth. The were stealing the country blind and buying up huge amounts of Real Estate and living like kings. Despite having the second largest oil reserves in the world the vast majority of people in Venezuela are poor and do not have decent housing and sanitation. This is because the 1% gives them scraps. Hugo Chavez tried to change this injustice. Mamoo go and fine the real story here. Do not drink the cool aid of the Western countries.

    1. “The Venezuelan government has jailed political opponents and disqualified them from running for office. At time of writing, Venezuelan prisons and intelligence services offices held more than 230 political prisoners, according to the Penal Forum, a Venezuelan network of pro-bono criminal defense lawyers.

      At time of writing, opposition leader Leopoldo López was serving a 13-year sentence under house arrest on charges of inciting violence during a demonstration in Caracas in February 2014, despite a lack of credible evidence against him. Several others arrested in connection with the 2014 protests or subsequent political activism remain under house arrest or in detention, awaiting trial. Others have been forced into exile“——Human Rights Watch, World Report 2019.

      Over 4 million Venezuelans have fled the Maduro/Chávez socialist nation. Many of the young girls come to TnT and sold their young, tender bodies to support their families in Venezuela. Chinese businessmen operating up north can get you a Vene beauty for a couple hundred dollars.

      This was never so until the Maduro regime entered office and got the Yanks annoyed. As the saying goes observer today them tomorrow it could be you…

  4. Sometimes it sickens me to read opinions of events that bears no bearing to facts. Mamoo, is the chief offender in this respect and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, even opinions not supported by facts are absorbed by the low information reader.

    The UNC was adamant that Rowley should support Guaido just because Donald Trump wanted it that way. Truth is, Donald Trump himself is a low-information president and most of his utterances are not supported by facts. Thank God, we’ve got a Prime Minister who understand world affairs and is not easy to act on other people’s opinion. Kamla, Ralph Maraj, Moonilal and other UNC jefes were critical of Rowley’s handling of the Venezuelan crisis, but history has shown that Rowley was and continues to be right on target. Thats what good leaders do. They make decisions with wisdom and not just act to be liked.

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