The Trudeau government has played a key role in supporting an attempted coup in Venezuela while also presenting itself as a facilitator with the Lima group to resolve the political crisis it has helped exacerbate.
On January 23, National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela in a bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
A recent news article reads, “Emboldening Venezuela’s opposition has been a labour of months, The Canadian Press has learned”.
That article adds, “Canadian diplomats in Caracas, with their Latin American counterparts, worked to get the country’s opposition parties to coalesce behind the one person who emerged strong enough to stand against Maduro: 35-year-old Guaido”.
Steve Ellner, a former professor at the Universidad de Oriente in Venezuela, recently commented on Democracy Now!, “It’s true that Maduro’s popularity has decreased. …But the opposition also is very unpopular”.
Ellner highlights, “That’s because the opposition lacks a program — at least it hasn’t publicized its program. It has a program. It’s a neoliberal program”.
The deeply ideological position of the Trump administration is clear.
The Canadian Press report also notes, “Guaido made a clandestine trip to Washington [by secretly crossing his country’s border with Colombia] in mid-December to brief U.S. officials on his strategy for dealing with Maduro’s January 10 inauguration”.
Just a few months earlier, in September 2018, The Guardian quoted U.S. President Donald Trump stating his view on what could be done in Venezuela: “It’s a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that”.
Trump told the United Nations General Assembly at that time: “Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty”.
Trump’s attack on socialism obscures the impact of the punitive sanctions that U.S. President Barack Obama imposed against Venezuela in 2015.
Alfred de Zayas, an American lawyer and the former secretary of the United Nations Human Rights Council, has recommended that the International Criminal Court review those sanctions as possible crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
Now the Trump administration has imposed additional sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company that could cost Venezuela about $11 billion in oil revenue this year. Venezuela is economically vulnerable to this given 41 per cent of its oil exports go to the U.S.
It’s in this context that the CBC reports, “Canada will host members of the Lima group of South and Central American countries next Monday [February 4 in Ottawa] in an effort to find a resolution to the turmoil in Venezuela, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said [on January 28]”.
Along with Canada, the Lima group includes Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and eight other Latin American countries.
The CBC article adds, “The move comes days after Canada recognized Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader, as interim president of the country and rejected Nicolas Maduro’s government as autocratic and illegitimate”.
Along with Canada and the United States, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Israel have recognized Guaido as the interim president.
This past weekend, Britain, Germany, France and Spain said that they would recognize Guaido if Maduro did not call a new election by February 3 (the day before the Lima group meeting).
However, not all countries have taken this position.
Notably, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has stated, “We should conduct foreign relations with the principles of non-intervention, of the self-determination of peoples, of peaceful solutions to disputes”.
Opposition voices have also been critical.
NDP veteran Svend Robinson says, “It is shameful that the government of Canada, and Justin Trudeau, is lining up with Donald Trump, with the authoritarian thug [Jair] Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, and is in-fact recognizing a coup, an illegal coup”.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has stated, “We must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups — as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and the DR [Dominican Republic]”.
Sanders adds, “The U.S. has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American nations; we must not go down that road again”.
And CodePink activist Medea Benjamin says, “It’s important for the left in the United States to stand up, not to say we love Maduro, but to say we’re against U.S. intervention”.
Benjamin also highlights, “We have to stand up and say that we believe in the principles of non-intervention, and we call for negotiations to end this crisis, not to follow in the footsteps of what the U.S. is doing”.
Sadly, the Trudeau government is following in the footsteps of what the U.S. is doing under the guise of promoting democracy.