BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT TALKS DOWN VENEZUELAN CRISIS – GUAIDO LEAVES FOR COLUMBIA




Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) - The Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao has stated that an American intervention in Venezuela “would make no sense” and that the threats from Washington were “of a rhetorical nature”. The anti-Maduro President Jair Bolsonaro himself has ruled out “frictions” on the Venezuelan border.

The Brazilian government itself is currently facing a series of strikes in connection with proposed neo-liberal reforms of the labor laws.The Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, ordered the closure of his country’s frontier with Brazil, as from 2000hrs on Thursday 21 February. The decision stands until further notice.

Venezuela later partially closed the Colombian frontier.

Colombia and Brazil have gone along with the United States backed recognition of Juan Guaido and are aligned with the opposition campaign to remove President Maduro from power.

The closure of the Brazilian frontier first is interesting because it is the Colombian frontier that currently seems the most sensitive. It looks very much as if the Venezuelan government were quite happy to let Guaido leave the country because it further weakens his claims to be interim President under article 233. It is difficult to claim to replace the legally elected incumbent because he has abandoned his post and at the same time leave the country oneself. It also solves a problem for them because he had broken the law and should have been arrested. However, the Maduro government did not wish to provide Washington with another excuse for claiming that Venezuela is undemocratic. Now that they have closed the border Colombian border it will not be easy for him to return.

The US backed Guido crossed into Columbia on Thursday night saying he would lead his supporters in forcing entry with the aid, which the Venezuelan government has rejected. The Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza,has ridiculed the gesture as a “stunt” pointing out that the amounts concerned were tiny compared with Venezuela’s daily needs, which are being obstructed by the confiscation of 20 billion dollars of assets and of monies due for oil imports to the Venezuelan national oil company from United States.

The frontier has witnessed a bizarre rivalry between two concerts. One on the Colombian side in favor of Guaido organized by the British billionaire Richard Branson and another 300 meters away on the Venezuelan side in favor of Maduro. The Branson concert claimed an attendance of 200,000 and was attended by Guaido. In reality aerial pictures taken by drone indicated an attendance nearer 20,000.

Guaido had announced the 23rd February as the date on which he would force the entry of US aid into Venezuela. There were violent disturbances on the bridge leading to Venezuela and an armoured vehicle tried to smash through the barrier from the Venezuelan side manned by three alleged deserters from the Venezuelan National Guard. Lorries were set on fire seemingly by Guaido’s own supporters. However, no aid was allowed through.

Guaido then claimed that some aid had reached Venezuela across the Brazilian border but this has been denied by the New York Times that says it is stranded at the frontier.

Maduro has also announced the closure of the sea frontier with islands off the coast. He has warned the United States that has talked of military intervention that Venezuela is now armed with modern weapons provided by Russia and China.

Aid has been stocked on the island of Curacao and Guaido has said it will be brought to Venezuela come what may. However, the authorities on the island have said that nothing will be shipped to Venezuela without the consent of the Venezuelan authorities.

The Venezuelan government has accepted aid shipments from Russia, which were sent in the normal way to Venezuela.

The United Nations and the Red Cross have refused to associate themselves with the US aid on the Colombian border as they say it would compromise their unbiased status. Washington has a history of using aid shipments as a cover for intervention.