For a long time, the widely supported acting president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, appears to be facing a hard time against the serving President, Nicolas Maduro. Even though Guaido is highly supported by the US, Western and various Latin American countries, he still lacks the support needed to beat Maduro’s leadership.
On various occasions, the US has shown its trust and active support in Guaido’s leadership, calling it necessary to end the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela. Millions have fled to the West, seeking for basic necessities, due to the lack of aid provided in health care system, water and sanitation, prisons and detention centers.
In his act of supporting Guaido, State Secretary Mike Pompeo last year said, “The U.S. government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy. Democracy cannot be defeated.” Vice President Mike Pence also supported Guaido saying that he was the country’s only legitimate ruler.
Maduro government, supported by European countries such as Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba and Turkey, today controls the main governmental and military institutions within Venezuela and has lifted restrictions over Juan Guaido’s freedom of movement. Not only that, the officials froze his Venezuelan assets, launched a probe accusing Guaido of foreign interference, while intimidating threats of violence.
Following Juan Guaido’s recent visit to the White House, where the Venezuelan acting president was treated as the head of the state, the Venezuelan authorities arrested six men with dual nationality who had been executives at Citgo, the US subsidiary of state-run Venezuelan oil firm PDVSA. The families of the Houston-based Citgo executives said that they were taken to the detention center of Venezuela’s intelligence services.
Alirio Rafael Zambrano, whose brothers Alirio Jose and Jose Luis Zambrano were among the Citgo executives, said that they were taken “abruptly” from their home.
“We demand to know their whereabouts but more importantly their freedom!” Rafael Zambrano tweeted.
US Special Representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams also stood against the detention of executives, criticizing the step taken by the Venezuelan police. As the Maduro government remained quiet over the entire scenario, Abrams warned Russia over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. There are reports that the US could target Russia’s Petroleum refining company, Rosneft, over its increasingly close relationship with Venezuela.
“We hope that the regime makes the calculation, particularly after this trip, that the support for Guaido is strong and that the counter-reaction to any move against him would make it a mistake for the regime,” said Abrams, while concerning over his safe return to Venezuela from Washington. The US also warned over the consequences if opposition leader Juan Guaido was troubled by Maduro-led government’s unspecified actions.
But are the warnings really effective? For almost a year, the US has tried to stop Maduro government by remotely supporting Guaido’s campaigning against the Venezuelan ruler, while sanctioning the key export of oil but have failed in every aspect. The Venezuelan crisis has become more of a challenge to the US and its supremacy in the country. The street protests initiated by Juan Guaido against Maduro’s leadership have consequently collapsed with time. Not even the negotiations between the Venezuelan presidents to maintain peace in the country are working. Under such situations, there are chances that one of the Venezuelan leaders would step up for a forced removal of the other one.