By Caribbean News Now contributor
CARACAS, Venezuela – China and Russia have criticised recent moves by the United States in Latin America, where both countries accuse the US of warmongering and meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations.
President Donald Trump’s administration has stepped up efforts to overthrow the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro in favour of Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly head who launched a challenge to Maduro’s authority in January, declaring himself acting president.
US Southern Command chief Navy Admiral Craig Faller told Foreign Policy recently that defence officials “are on the balls of our feet” in anticipation of taking action.
A representative from Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, responded last Thursday to these comments, stating that this reaffirms Russia’s fears that US military action in Venezuela is not an abstraction, but a possible reality that is admitted in Washington.
Referring to recent reports that the US had held high-level meetings considering the use of force against the crisis-stricken socialist-led state, Zakharova told reporters, “Another pseudo-reason for getting ready for a military invasion is the need to contain Russian influence in Venezuela.”
“Once again I would like to repeat: all Russian actions on Venezuelan territory are consistent with the legal government of the Bolivarian Republic,” she added, recalling US invasions of countries such as Yugoslavia and Iraq. “Apparently, the US military is really considering the possibility of repeating this sad experience—to start bombing civilian structures and people, who are guilty only of supporting the legitimate president of their country that does not like Washington.”
Russia, which has sent up to 100 military personnel to fulfil “military-technical cooperation” with Venezuela, has warned that, after Venezuela, fellow leftist-led Cuba and Nicaragua would be next on the US hit list. These three countries have been referred to as a “troika of tyranny” by White House national security adviser John Bolton, who previously added Cuba—along with Libya and Syria—to former President George W Bush’s “axis of evil” comprised of Iran, Iraq and North Korea in 2002.
In addition to cracking down on Venezuela via sanctions that have exacerbated an economic crisis also attributed to internal mismanagement, the US revealed new restrictions Wednesday intended to limit the flow of US and foreign capital to Cuba. Bolton again invoked the Monroe Doctrine, a 19th-century policy designed to kick European powers out of Latin America and later repurposed to suppress the rise of left-wing movements across the region, arguing “we must all reject the forces of communism and socialism in this hemisphere.”
The US has been tied to past attempts to overthrow the governments of the so-called “troika of tyranny” as well as many other leaders across the Western Hemisphere. Zakharova said Thursday that, “regardless of whether it is Cuba, Venezuela or any other country in the world, unilateral sanctions are illegitimate.”
Chinese foreign ministry representative Lu Kang took a similar stance, telling a press briefing on Thursday that Beijing “opposes such wrong practices as unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction based on domestic laws outside the UN Security Council.” He said that “China believes that mutual respect, equality, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation should serve as the guidance” for international relations.
China, Russia and Iran all criticised Bolton’s remarks and similar threats repeating Trump’s stance that “all options” were available in ensuring Maduro was ousted, along with his foreign allies. Despite the support of more than 50 countries, including the United States, Guaidó has been unable to dislodge Maduro, who retains the backing of the country’s powerful military.
Cuba, Russia, China and Iran are all backing Maduro, who won a presidential election last year that opponents and international observers dismissed as illegitimate.
According to The Washington Post, the US believes there are as many as 25,000 Cuban military and intelligence personnel working in the Venezuelan military and intelligence services and even Maduro’s personal guard.
The power struggle between Maduro and Guaidó continues, as the Venezuelan opposition leader called on Friday for the “biggest demonstration in history” to put pressure on Maduro to step down.
At a rally in Caracas, Guaidó told hundreds of his supporters, “We call on all the people of Venezuela to take part in the biggest demonstration in this country’s history May 1 to demand the usurpation ends definitively.”
The march will take place on Labor Day when the socialist government holds a major street event to commemorate the reign of Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez.
Guaidó has regularly called on his supporters to rally against Maduro, motivating tens of thousands to take to the streets.
Meanwhile, more information is being revealed about Cuba’s role in propagating the crisis in Venezuela. The secretary-general of the Organization of American States and others estimate that Cuba has “lent” more than 46,000 officials to Venezuela’s military, security and intelligence services.
In exchange for subsidised Venezuelan oil and preferential loans, Cuba has exported its police state to Venezuela. This repressive apparatus has allowed Maduro to maintain control as he ruthlessly pillages his own country.
As President Donald Trump’s administration issued new sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba to apply pressure on Maduro to step down, Russia remains defiant in its defence of both Venezuela and Cuba.
The Russian Information Agency (RIA) quoted Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov, who said on Thursday the new sanctions—announced by Bolton on Wednesday—are illegal, Reuters reported.
Ryabkov added that the Kremlin plans to do everything to support its allies in Caracas and Havana, despite continued American efforts to undermine both regimes.