U.S. backs Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó amid attempted coup of leftist government
According to the BBC, the United States and Donald Trump have officially backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has characterized the election of left-wing President Nicolás Maduro as rigged. Guaidó, who was a relatively unknown figure in Venezuelan politics before assuming the post as the leader of the opposition party that controlled parliament earlier in January, stated that he had a constitutional right to take over as president until new elections could be held. There have also been widespread protests, and two days ago Maduro stopped 27 National Guard troops who allegedly attempted an armed revolt at a guard post in the capital city of Caracas.
According to the New York Times, late last year the Trump administration met with some members of the Venezuelan military who were willing to discuss a potential coup. One of the members who met with the administration is also on a sanctions list of corrupt Venezuelan officials who are suspected by the American government of crimes including torturing critics, trafficking drugs and collaborating with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Officially, the administration decided against helping to organize a coup, but the news that it is backing the opposition party has led to rumors of American involvement.
Russia, Turkey, and China have all denounced the United States for its support of Guaidó. As Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Al-Jazeera, “We consider attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as… a breach of the foundations of international law, Maduro is the legitimate head of state.”
The chairman of the information committee at Russiaś Federation Council called the American move “an attempted coup,” and told the state-run Russian media outlet Rossiya 24, “It’s impossible to imagine that this was spontaneous… That was a preplanned action and it was certainly coordinated by the United States.”
In response to the announcement, Maduro kicked American diplomats out of the country. He still enjoys the support of the Venezuelan defense minister and the military, but the opposition is trying to pressure the military to come to its side. According to the BBC, Maduro has been working to prevent that by giving high ranking members posts in his government.
In addition to America, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and many other Latin and South American countries are in support of Guaidó. In addition to Russia, China, and Turkey; Cuba and Bolivia both support Maduro, while most of the European Union nations are calling for a dialogue, as is the United Nations.