The Financial Express

Venezuela in trouble in western hemisphere

Mohammad Amjad Hossain | Published: March 01, 2019 21:40:54

Venezuela in trouble in western hemisphere

As of now it gives the impression that doctrine of President James Monroe (1823) is likely to be repeated by 47th President Donald Trump of the United States in the twenty first century in the western hemisphere. President Monroe declared the western hemisphere was off-limits to European powers. With President George Bush relations between the United States and the western hemisphere went to the lowest ebb, to say the least, while President Obama has made efforts to improve relations with the western hemisphere. That had been reflected in the recognition of Cuba and re-establishing diplomatic relations.

President Donald Trump reversed the situation in the western hemisphere by withdrawing the diplomatic status from Cuba on flimsy grounds. Following a series of mysterious health attacks against Americans in Havana, President Trump abruptly ordered in April of 2018 most employees in the US embassy to leave while he expelled Cuban diplomats from newly-established Cuban embassy in Washington DC. 

Interesting enough to note that President Trump recognised national assembly head Juan Guaido as a legitimate President of Venezuela instead of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, following rigged general election in Venezuela. Prior to that, the United States also announced sanctions on the state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A, freezing $ 7.0 billion in US-based assets. In fact, Venezuela has been selling 500,000 barrels of oil to the US refineries on a daily basis. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned US sanctions against the Venezuelan oil company declaring the measure illegal. Both China and Russia are patronising Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who was patronised by immediate-past President Hugo Chavez. In fact, deceased President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez had had worst relations with former President of the United States George Bush.

From March 23 to April 28 in 2005 Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula De Silva, who is in jail, and an anti-US Algerian President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika organised a summit meeting of 32 countries to have a South-South dialogue in Brazil with the USA excluded. At the behest of the USA, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria did not participate. The USA started a campaign against Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and requested Chile, Brazil and the Organisation of American states to which the USA is a member to criticise Hugo Chavez for moving towards socialism. The efforts were fruitless, indeed.

As of now, as many as 15 countries including Brazil, Argentina in the Western hemisphere came forward to recognise Juan Guaido as head of Venezuela. None came forward from the European Union. Incidentally, its close door neighbour Cuba has dispatched thousands of Cubans to infiltrate Venezuelan security apparatus and military as well. This was disclosed by Secretary General of the Organisation of Americas who declared "those Cubans an occupation force". Similarly, Russia has apparently dispatched elite special forces to assist embattled Nicolas Maduro. Another scenario of Syria is in the offing in Venezuela.

As of now, the situation in Venezuela turns out to be escalating a standoff between President Nicolas Maduro and self-proclaimed President and opposition leader Juan Guaido following delivering humanitarian aid from the Colombian border. President Maduro has rejected the plan claiming its effort is part of a broader attempt to overthrow his regime. Humanitarian aid was flown to border of Colombo by US military aircraft along with special envoy of President Trump to Venezuela Mr. Elliot Abrams. Interestingly to note, neither United Nations nor Red Cross or other relief organisations agreed to work with the US. These organisations consider humanitarian aid from the US linked with politics. Meanwhile, the US Congress asked President Trump to refrain from sending US troops to invade Venezuela.

As the tensions between the US and Venezuela increased with Colombia used as a stop-gap arrangement to supply food to Venezuela, President Maduro cut off diplomatic ties with Colombia. This decision to cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia took place on February 24, one day ahead of the proposed visit to the region by US Vice President Mike Pence at the invitation of President of Colombia Mr. Iván Duque.US Vice-President raised "US' s unwavering support for interim President Juan Guaido and highlighted the Venezuelan people's fight for democracy" while addressing the 12-member Lima group of countries comprising Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Canada, Paraguay, Peru, Mexico and Colombia and Costa Rica formed on 8th August of 2017 to find a peaceful resolution to the Venezuelan crisis. Costa Rica remained absent in the meeting. The Vice-President of the USA declared more economic sanctions on Venezuelan officials, including three border-states' governors while he urged the Lima group to freeze assets of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company and restrict visas for officials to Maduro.

Since the crisis erupted in Venezuela following a rigged election, President Nicolas Maduro has been being supported by Cuba, China, Russia, Bolivia, Iran, Syria, Nicaragua and Turkey. It is really difficult to foresee the situation in Venezuela in the days ahead.

Mohammad Amjad Hossain is a retired diplomat and former President of Toastmaster International club of America.


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