CARACAS, Venezuela (ViaNews) – “All options are on the table”. That phrase has turned into a mantra of US officials. Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Elliot Abrams, and John Bolton repeat it almost on a daily basis. But it has been said so much, and so little has been done that many believe the US has overplayed their hand.
Some weeks ago it seemed that Russia and China were preparing for a future in Venezuela without Maduro as president. Some Russia companies refused to borrow money to Maduro regime and China officials allegedly met with some representatives of Maduro’s challenger, Juan Guaidó, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as President of Venezuela, including the US and most of the European Union.
But now, it is not so clear. China and Russia vetoed a resolution in a Security Council that asked for a democratic solution in Venezuela and the entry of humanitarian relief.
After that, Russia has only increased its support for Maduro.
On March 23, two airplanes of the Russian Armed Forces landed in Caracas with military personnel. According to Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, they are in the country to comply with technical affairs of a military agreement between Russia and Venezuela.
The arrival raised many eyebrows across the country and Latin America. Russia said they would do anything in their power to impede a US-led intervention in Venezuela.
In the meantime, interim President Guaidó said Russia could not do that because only a legitimate President could approve foreign military presence, according to article 187.11 of the Venezuelan constitution.
The said article has been quite controversial. Many of Guaidó supporters have pressed him to invoke the article as legitimate President of Venezuela, to ask for a foreign intervention to oust Maduro, and others, even in Guaidó’s political party, believe the way to go is diplomatic pressure and peaceful protests.
Gilber Caro, former political prisoner, member of Voluntad Popular, Guaidó’s party, and member of the National Assembly, said he did not want an American intervention because he “wanted to be the protagonist of the liberation of Venezuela”. After his declarations drew heavy criticism he said that he supported whatever measures President Guaidó believed were necessary.
Others believe Guaidó should wait until he has the necessary national and international support to ask for foreign military cooperation.
This, because many governments in Latin America are not convinced with the possibility of intervention and it seems it is not the first option of the US. Brazilian Defense Minister and Vice-President have repeatedly stated they sought a peaceful solution in Venezuela and will not partake in a military intervention.
If Guaidó asks for an intervention, and it does not come, it would leave him entirely uncovered and would consolidate Maduro’s position.
Nevertheless, after Maduro’s regime striped Guaidó of his parliamentary immunity and started a criminal investigation against Guaidó, he said in a popular assembly that “international cooperation was a fact” and that many international leaders agreed with the necessity of it. He also said that he would eventually invoke article 187.11 of the Constitution.
When will that happen? It is hard to say. Apart from the US, no one seems, at least publicly, to be quite convinced with an US-led intervention. Also, asking for military cooperation would have to be approved by the National Assembly and not all members of the Parliament seem convinced.
In the end, it depends mostly in the US. If they take Russia’s threats seriously, they would be more compelled to act as they cannot let their continental influence be undermined just like that. But a military intervention has a great cost, both financial and political.
Will Donald Trump assume it with the Presidential elections right at the corner?