International efforts accelerated to ease tensions in Venezuela

Tuesday, 2019-02-12 14:25:31
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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo, Venezuela on February 6, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO – Venezuela’s National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) has launched a big six-day military exercise to get prepared to defend the country in every situation. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro affirmed that Venezuela is a peaceful country and does not allow any military interventions, nor the occurrence of a civil war, as hoped for by hostile groups from both at home and abroad.

The political turmoil in Venezuela broke out after opposition leader Juan Guaido, who also serves as head of the Venezuelan National Assembly, suddenly declared himself the nation’s “Interim President”. Guaido’s action has been strongly condemned by President Maduro’s government and is considered part of a coup attempt. While the United States and about 20 European Union (EU) member countries have recognised Guaido as the “Interim President of Venezuela”, pressuring President Maduro to hold a new election, many countries, including Cuba, Mexico, Turkey and Russia, have voiced support for the government of President Maduro, criticising the coup attempt in Venezuela.

In the latest move, Guaido announced that he did not rule out the possibility of agreeing to a military intervention plan by the US or a foreign force into Venezuela, aiming to force President Maduro’s administration to abandon the “usurpation of power” as called by the opposition. The opposition-controlled National Assembly recently passed a transition law, the text of which states that when President Maduro leaves power, Guaido will be allowed to call the national elections within 30 days. In case this cannot be implemented for some technical reason, Guaido will continue to lead the interim government for 12 months, according to the newly passed law.

In response, Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) declared the “complete neutralisation” of the transition law, while proposing the Constituent Assembly to issue resolutions related to the operations of the legislative body and “Interim President”, considering Guaido’s self-declaration act as a coup attempt.

In the face of the complicated political situation in Venezuela, many international efforts have been made, but not every effort is effective or approved. The International Contact Group on Venezuela (ICG), which comprises representatives of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), European countries (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), and Latin American countries (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay), convened its first meeting in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo on February 7. At the working session, many countries signed the Montevideo Mechanism, a four-step plan to foster dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition groups in search of a solution to the current political crisis. A proposal to conduct a new presidential election in Venezuela is also part of the Montevideo Mechanism.

However, Bolivia, Mexico and CARICOM countries were opposed to a joint statement after the meeting, citing the ICG as intervening in Venezuela’s internal affairs. Venezuelan President Maduro immediately rejected the Montevideo Mechanism and the proposal to carry out a new presidential election, criticising this as “biased proposals”. President Maduro also invited ICG representatives to Caracas to dialogue with the constitutional government and affirmed his willingness to join the Montevideo Mechanism to sign balanced and satisfactory agreements related to peace in Venezuela.

In the meantime, tensions between Caracas and Washington continued to be raised to new levels, as the Venezuelan government announced the evidence of a conspiracy, planned by the right wing under the support of foreign forces, including the US, to overthrow President Maduro’s administration. The Caracas government accused Washington of hindering talks in Venezuela, condemning the US statement that Venezuela was suffering from a humanitarian crisis as a “lie” in an excuse to intervene in the South American country. In fact, a letter asking the US not to intervene in Venezuela’s internal affairs received two million signatures from Venezuelan citizens in just one day. According to President Maduro, the aforementioned “peace letter” is expected to receive 10 million signatures soon and will then be sent to the White House.

Many countries voiced concern about actions aimed at interfering with the issues primarily under national jurisdiction, as well as on the threat of using force against Venezuela’s territorial integrity and political independence. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the UN is willing to help bring Venezuelan President Maduro and opposition leader Guaido to the negotiating table in a serious fashion.

Intervention in internal affairs of a country is never accepted in international relations, and there is no exception to the case of Venezuela. With the determination of the majority of Venezuelans to preserve national independence, and the supportive voice of the peace-loving community, positive steps and efforts are still being promoted by the international community aiming to promptly relieve tensions in this South American country.