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Venezuela crisis: A big political game

Published : Sunday, 10 February, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 863
M Matiur Rahman

M Matiur Rahman

M Matiur Rahman

I find immense pleasure to begin my article with a few lines beautifully composed by John Godfrey Saxy in his poem The Game of Life:
"In battle or business, whatever the game,
In law or love, It is ever the same;
In the struggle for power, or the scramble for pelf.''
By the term political game I would like to mean the power struggle between two persons or between two powerful nations or their political rivalry to exert influence on a country where they have interest or want to establish their supremacy. Before analysing the political game in Venezuela I intend to give the location of the country. We all know that it is an oil rich country of Latin America. It is located in the north of South America. Venezuela borders Columbia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south. The official name of the country is the Bolivarian Republic of the Venezuela. Formerly, it was a Spanish colony.
Nicolas Maduro has been the President of Venezuela since 14 April 2013 after the death of his predecessor Hugo Chavez. He won the 2018 election which was deemed fraudulent and denounced by the United States, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil etc. But Russia, China, Cuba, Turkey and Iran support him as president. On the 10 January 2019 when Maduro was sworned in as the President, the leader of the Legislature Juan Guaido also declared himself as President. The US recognised him as the interim president of Venezuela. Maduro's period was marked by political turmoil because of corruption, hyperinflation, shortage of food, medicine and mass emigration. Three million Venezuelans have fled the country to the neighbouring states. There is huge political unrest by the supporters of Guido against the Maduro Government.

However, as Venezuela is an oil rich country, it is quite natural that America would keep its eye on her just as it did in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Now the fluid situation of Venezuela has paved the way for US intervention. America has declared the government of Maduro as illegitimate and undemocratic. He was given ultimatum to step down and give election within 8 days. The American move was supported by UK, Canada, Brazil, French, Germany, Spain and Peru. As a retaliation Maduro declared the expulsion of American diplomats and closure of all its consulates.

On the contrary, his allies whose name I have already mentioned have sided with him. Notably Russia has given military and economic assistance to Venezuela and invested much capital there. So Russia warned America that its intervention would be a violation of the sovereignty of Venezuela and lead to serious consequences. The US president Donald Trump opines that this country is in their hemisphere and they are watching the long suffering of the people of Venezuela. He says that all his options are on the table for Venezuela.

Though Maduro has rejected to call election he expressed his readiness to talk with the opposition leader. Russia has called the election within 8 days as absurd. The US has urged all nations to take a side on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government. This is evident from the strong worded speech of the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo at a special US Security council meeting.

As matters stand today, Venezuela has become a divided country with two Presidents--one self-proclaimed and the other in power, elected. Both leaders are holding conferences. The opposition activists are making more protest to keep the momentum. The National Assembly is under their occupation. The US has warned that if anything happens to Guido or the National Assembly it will give significant response.

Now it seems to be a big gamble or power struggle that may end in bloody civil strife or conflict. Day by day the situation is going out of control and may create catastrophic consequences. Maduro will not give in because the Army is loyal to him and the source of his support. He may use the army to quell anti-government protest. The American efforts to overthrow him is regarded by the army as an attempted coup against Maduro. The power struggle is not confined to Maduro and Guido but it has also entangled both US and Russia over the conflict in Venezuela.
It will be difficult to oust him as long as the army supports him. But the concern is the most powerful nation is with Guido. Moreover, the supporters of both the leaders are dragged into confrontation. This crisis is further fuelled by the Venezuelan Supreme Court's ban on Maduro's leaving the country and freezing his bank accounts.  Guido has sought the help of US government and its people. There is hardly any ray of solution of the crisis. The question is how long Maduro will be able to bear the brunt of American superiority with the assistance of Russia for which he is proud. It will be a mountain task for him to come out of the crisis that may be another Syria of Latin America.

The US has held him responsible for the tragic decline of Venezuela. Primarily the US is applying diplomatic and economic tools to mount pressure on him. As a part of this strategy it has imposed sanction on Venezuela's state owned oil company, the major source of income. The US security adviser, John Bolton did not rule out military action against him and urged Venezuelan military to support Guido.

Maduro is still determined that he would be able to resist the US imperialistic design to overthrow him. It reminds me what Bertrand Russel in his book "Has Man a Future?" said that the dictator always believe that the way to victory is dictatorship. But the reality is different. It did not cost many a tear for the fearful giant to finish off Saddam and Gaddafi. Things will not be otherwise for Maduro. We are in suspense for the fateful moment especially, what is going to be in store for Venezuela ultimately as a victim of big political game. Time in its march will make us aware of the grim realities of life.
The writer is a critic and political

analyst. He can be reached at:

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