Venezuela: Russia warns US against military intervention
In the Venezuelan power struggle for president, incumbent Nicolás Maduro receives support from Moscow. The US, on the other hand, backed the opposition.
In the Venezuela crisis, Russia took a clear stance behind left-wing nationalist president Nicolás Maduro. Moscow sees the "attempted seizure of power" of the opposition in Venezuela as a "violation of international law," said the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Moscow. "Maduro is the legitimate head of state," Dmitry Peskov added.
In Venezuela, Wednesday, the power struggle between Maduro and the opposition escalated. The opposition parliamentary president Juan Guaidó had declared himself interim president.
Russia now warns the US, which had put behind Guaidó, also before a military intervention in Venezuela. This would be a catastrophic scenario, the Interfax news agency quotes the Foreign Ministry in Moscow. Russia will continue to support its strategic partner Venezuela. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also pledged his support to President Maduro. US President Donald Trump had not previously ruled out military intervention. Asked if the US could possibly remove Maduro by force from the top government, he said, "We're not considering anything, but all options are on the table."
In a speech to tens of thousands of supporters, the 35-year-old Guaidó had declared that he wanted to lead his country out of dictatorship. He wants to enforce a transitional government and new elections. Until a few days ago, the young MP was little known. But after his election in early January to the Speaker of Parliament, he described in his swearing speech before the National Assembly Maduro as a "usurper", who was unlawfully in power.
The military is still on Maduro's side
The Venezuelan military does not recognize Guaidó as president, according to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino. The units would defend the constitution and guarantee national sovereignty, the minister writes on Twitter.
On Monday, however, there had also been a riot by 27 soldiers against Maduro. He had failed. Guaidó had in recent days appealed to the army to take sides with the people and the constitution and against the regime. He has promised those servicemen an amnesty who say goodbye to Maduro. Venezuelan bishops also called on the military to protect its citizens. The new protests are a sign of hope.
Former Trade and Industry Minister Moisés Naím said on Thursday at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos: "The military in the country is divided". Part of the armed forces was "very, very unhappy" with the situation. However, it is under "tight control".
At least 13 dead in protests
During the protests and riots, at least 13 people died on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the non-governmental organization Observatory for Social Conflicts (OVCS). Opposition spokesman Freddy Superlano said four people had been killed by gunfire in the town of Barinas in southwestern Venezuela. Members of the National Guard and the police had dispersed protesters at the end of an opposition march when the gunfire hit. A civil defense spokesman in Táchira State said three people were killed in riots in San Cristóbal City.
Secret agents Guaidó had been dragged out of a car last week, but released after international criticism. Three Venezuelan lawyers asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for precautions to protect Guaidó and his family. Her life, her personal integrity and freedom are in danger.
Venezuela has been in a deep political and economic crisis for years and can hardly import its own food and medicines due to foreign exchange shortages. By the end of 2015, the opposition had clearly won the parliamentary election following mass protests. After that, however, Maduro let the parliament outlawed. The early presidential elections in 2016 Maduro won despite international protests. Popular opponents had not been allowed to compete and the main opposition parties had boycotted the election.
Guaido relied on the Venezuelan constitution when he appointed himself president. Accordingly, the President of Parliament can take on the executive function on an interim basis and call new elections if a vacancy arises in the presidency. The opposition and many western states see the re-election of Socialist President Maduro as unconstitutional.
Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Brazil support Guaidó. Sweden and Denmark also expressed their support for Guaidó. In Germany, politicians like the Green Cem Özdemir or CDU foreign policy Elmar Brok plead for recognition in the Bild newspaper. "Following the illegitimate election of Nicolás Maduro in May 2018, Europe is supporting the restoration of democracy," wrote President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter. However, he did not name the head of parliament Guaidó. Trump had been one of the first to express confidence and support to Guaidó.
Then the Socialist President Maduro broke off the diplomatic relations with the US, Washington countered immediately: He has no longer the right. Guaidó urged the international diplomatic choir to stay in the country.
Maduro accused Washington of wanting to overthrow leftist leaders in Latin America during the Cold War. "Do not trust the gringos," Maduro said. Chairman of Maduro's Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, called on its supporters to gather outside the presidential palace to prevent a US-led revolution.
Opponents of Guaidó
In addition to Russia and Turkey, Iran, China, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua also joined Maduro's side. Also Mexico's new left-wing president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke out for Maduro. Erdogan told his Venezuelan counterpart, "Brother Maduro, hold your head up, Turkey will remain at your side," said Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Maduro and Erdogan have maintained a close relationship for years. Both are criticized for their dealings with the opposition.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for dialogue in the Venezuela crisis. He hoped that an escalation could be avoided, "which would lead to a kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region," said Guterres on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
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