Today thousands of protesters took to the streets in Venezuela in support of opposition leader and leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido. The demonstrations come about three weeks after Guaido proclaimed himself interim president of the country after rejecting Nicholas Maduro’s re-election last year. Over the last few days, Guaido has attempted to get humanitarian aid from the US into Venezuela, but Maduro, who is also backed by the country’s military, has blocked its entrance. The aid sits at the Colombian border with Venezuela in the town of Cucuta. President Maduro has objected to allowing the aid into the country saying it is was a way for the US to justify an intervention. Guiado has obtained support from the US and over eighteen other countries but the Maduro government also has its support in large countries like Russia and China. The already economically crippled country is also facing sanctions from the US which has frozen Venezuela’s assets and which has also taken economic measures against the country’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA. The new sanctions will hurt the one sector that is responsible for more than 90% of the government’s revenues. President Maduro says that while there have been problems in Venezuela, it is something the country can and should be left to deal with without international interference. But the country has been faced with hyperinflation, food shortage and a declining health system. Ambassador of Venezuela to Belize, Gerardo Argote, spoke of the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, citing that it is the result of an economic war against Venezuela.
Gerardo Argote Ambassador of Venezuela to Belize: “I cannot try to hide anything. I have to speak with total objectivity clarity about what is happening in Venezuela. Clearly there is a tough situation in Venezuela because there is an economic war in the Venezuelan economy. There is an economic war that has been ongoing or has been increasing for over five years to date: 2013, 2014,15,16,17,18 and that war has impacted the economy. Inflation induced and prices have increased. Obviously the situation is strong but the people of Venezuela has learned how to respond with loyalty to its principles and the Government has also learned how to respond and has made huge efforts to take food to people most in need and also medicine to families most in need. Venezuela is in peace for now and is trying to regain normalcy little by little but it is difficult to regain it. It is difficult to get it in a scenario where there is hostility, a scenario where there is a group of countries that are against peace and the tranquility of Venezuela. Imposing sanctions like that you have asked about. Historically it has been proven that sanctions directly generate pain, hunger and sadness for people. If sanctions are implemented there is nothing to buy medicines with. There is nothing to buy food with, so what are they looking for? Pain for the people? Is that the most intelligent solution? Is that the immediate solution ? Instead of negotiating and instead of seeking dialogue because President Maduro has said it; the Government is open to dialogue to the peaceful solution to controversies.
In a recent, and rare, interview with BBC, President Nicholas Maduro called the Trump administration a “gang of extremists”, blaming the US for Venezuela’s crisis. In another interview, when President Maduro was asked whether he feared a civil war, he stated that he believed it quote, “depends on level of madness and aggressiveness of the northern empire and their western allies” unquote, adding that they are preparing to defend their country. However, latest developments being reported is that Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza has indicated that he told U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres that the Maduro government wants “deepening cooperation” with U.N. agencies in areas “impacted by the international assault by the United States,” while insisting that there isn’t a humanitarian crisis in the country.