Over the weekend 2-3 February, thousands of protestors gathered in rival demonstrations on the streets of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim President on 23 January, remains committed to forcing out Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó has announced further opposition rallies for Wednesday 6 February and Saturday 9 February. The latter date is the last day of the ultimatum to Maduro set by several leading European states, including France.
On 31 January, Guaidó gave a speech outlining his “national plan” for Venezuela, in which he prioritised coordinating humanitarian assistance, restoring public services, and solving people’s dependency on subsidies. He also seeks to establish a “transitional government” and hold free elections. In the same speech, he claimed that members of the Special Action Forces came to threaten him at his apartment building. The US, Brazil, and others continue to back Guaidó’s power grab.
White House national security adviser John Bolton was recently spotted carrying a notepad that read “5,000 troops to Colombia”, which borders Venezuela. Nonetheless, Maduro remains resolute. He has offered to hold early new elections to the National Assembly, though it is not clear how this re-elected National Assembly would relate to the government-controlled Constituent Assembly, which has the authority to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution. Guaidó has refused to rule out accepting US military support. Still, for now Maduro still seems to have the upper hand in this power-struggle.
As I reported in Solidarity 493, Guaidó’s self-declaration as President appears to be a gambit to drive a wedge between Maduro and the Venezuelan top brass. Although Jonathan Velasco, the Venezuelan ambassador to Iraq, has declared his support for Guaidó, so far only one high-ranking military officer seems to have defected, namely Gen. Esteban Yanez Rodriguez of the Venezuelan air force’s high command. I say “seems” because the video purporting to feature Yanez is edited and yet to be independently authenticated.
With some polls indicating that as many as 81% of Venezuelans want Maduro to relinquish power and Maduro continuing to keep control via the military, we stand by our assessment of Maduro’s regime as Bonapartist authoritarianism. Although both major sides in Venezuela are backed by imperialist powers – the US in Guaidó’s case, and Russia and China in Maduro’s case – the Venezuelan people would suffer even worse if the sabre-rattling becomes an actual military intervention. In short, we want Maduro to go, but it matters who ousts him.
Unfortunately, the Venezuelan working class is not presently in a position to oust Maduro by its own power. We will keep supporting efforts to build an independent, class-struggle left in Venezuela, while opposing any imperialist intervention