Venezuela Needs Dialogue, Not Civil War

The United States has intensified its signals for military action against Venezuela after its orchestrated coup failed. These signals could be a hoax or may really indicate Washington’s plan, yet neither possibility would help solve the problems of the Latin American nation. Rather, the US intervention wrecks havoc on the country as has been the case everywhere else.

Perennial hawk John Bolton seems to be salivating at the possibility of the US invading the major South American country, while Mike Pompeo has been telling the press at every opportunity that if the US decides an attack is required “that’s what the United States will do.”

This should stun no one. What happened in Syria and Libya is now repeating itself in Venezuela: Failed opposition uprising, rebellion, coup attempt, street and community violence, and human suffering of biblical proportions – with everyone sanctimoniously fighting over the carcass of their capital with no light at the end of the tunnel.

The only difference in this dark imagining is that the Venezuelans are yet to follow opposition leader Juan Guaido’s call to take to the streets with tanks and guns in a bid to target the army and force elected President Nicolas Maduro from power.

If contemporary history is any indication, all that could change in the blink of an eye if the government, the opposition, and the people of Venezuela fail to learn the lesson from Syria and Libya and reflect on the human and socio-economic costs of those pointless wars. If they similarly snap, the final phase of stability could slip away and foreign-backed civil war could blow everyone up. It could turn the oil-rich nation into a failed state and a hellhole for international competition – the likes of which we have already seen in Syria and Libya.

With that in mind, all parties to the current political skirmish still have a choice. They should reverse the current destructive course and end their verbal attacks and threats far and wide. This includes the self-proclaimed president in charge, Guaido, who is calling for US military intervention.

Here, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can shout otherwise until he is blue in the face, but the timing of the failed coup attempt on April 30 was suspicious. Although it is difficult to get accurate information in the age of “fake news,” reports suggest that the US was probably behind the attempted coup near the La Carlota air base in Caracas.

So it’s no surprise that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others have claimed that prior to the coup “the US got together a deal with the Supreme Court chief justice, the defense minister, and the head of the presidential guard.” President Donald Trump, on his Twitter, has also expressed support for the coup, urging the Bolivarian National Armed Force to join the action.

The good news is that this put many in Venezuela on notice, as a consequence of which the foreign-backed opposition couldn’t sell the attempted coup d’etat as a boon to so-called democratic transition. The increasingly cynical public saw the external support as another pathway to regime decapitation in Caracas. Even the small group of members of the army who led the failed uprising are now apologetic, sayig they were “pressured and deceived”.

This has to be the reason why the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, is doing the right thing to call for a new dialogue and reconciliation, and why the international civil society guards against any foreign attempt to turn up the heat and undermine the South American country’s sovereignty.

Armed uprising and coup will only make the situation worse in Venezuela, with no consideration for socio-economic realities on the ground. It will escalate the current crisis and deepen the major divisions in the South American society and the wider region.

Nonetheless, the rule of law must prevail in order for all-encompassing political dialogue and reconciliation to begin. In between, foreign interventionists must be dreaded and opposed if they surface on the Venezuelan border.

Both those in support of and against the government have a duty to welcome the UN’s move against the coup and military intervention and believe that their efforts must focus only on a political solution. It’s an engagement also supported by democratically elected President Maduro and his Day of Dialogue, which goes beyond the main political actors to include civil society leaders and communities at large.

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