This discussion offers contrasting opinions about what is currently happening in Venezuela and how things might be resolved in the future. It is primarily a debate between Carlos Ron, Venezuelan vice-minister of foreign relations for North America, and Sociologist Edgardo Lander, retired professor from the Central University of Venezuela, who is part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, in Caracas. Although Lander is a strong critic of Maduro and his government, he is against intervention, criticizing the government from the left.
Editors’ Note: as with all articles on New Cold War, we don’t necessarily share the views we publish. We do attempt to provide readers with a range of views, because your right to make your own mind up depends on being fully informed
By Nermeen Shaikh and Amy Goodman
Published on Democracy Now!, May 2, 2019
Competing pro- and anti-government rallies were held Wednesday as President Nicolás Maduro accused the United States of backing Tuesday’s failed coup led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Speaking to a massive crowd of supporters outside the presidential palace of Miraflores, Maduro said the United States had been tricked into believing that several top Venezuelan officials were ready to break with his government. In Washington, the National Security Council held a principals’ meeting on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela. The Washington Post reports the staff of national security adviser John Bolton clashed with a top general during the meeting for not presenting sufficient military options on Venezuela. This came as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan canceled a planned overseas trip to focus on Venezuela. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to urge an end to Russian involvement in Venezuela. Lavrov reportedly responded by warning the United States should not take any more “aggressive steps” in Venezuela. We go to Caracas for a debate between Venezuelan Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations for North America Carlos Ron and Edgardo Lander, a Venezuelan sociologist who is part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin today’s show in Venezuela, where competing pro- and anti-government rallies were held Wednesday. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused the United States of backing Tuesday’s failed coup led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Speaking to a massive crowd of supporters outside the presidential palace of Miraflores, Maduro said the United States had been tricked into believing that several top Venezuelan officials were ready to break with his government.
PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO: [translated] In this opportunity, the Venezuelan coup mongers fooled the American imperialists, making them believe that I was to give up, that I was going to hand myself in, that I was to leave the country.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Washington, the National Security Council held a principals’ meeting on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela. The Washington Post reports the staff of national security adviser John Bolton clashed with a top general during the meeting for not presenting sufficient military options on Venezuela.
AMY GOODMAN: This came as acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan canceled a planned overseas trip to focus on Venezuela. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to urge an end to Russian involvement in Venezuela. Lavrov reportedly responded by warning the United States should not take any more aggressive steps in Venezuela. On Wednesday night, President Trump appeared on Fox Business.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s a terrible thing. People are starving. People are dying. There’s no food. There’s no water. It’s just a terrible situation. You see what’s going on. And we’re doing everything we can do, short of, you know, the ultimate. And there are people that would like to do—have us do the ultimate. But we are—we are—we have a lot of options open. But when we look at what’s going on there, it’s an incredible mess.
AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Caracas, Venezuela, where we’re joined by two guests. Carlos Ron is the Venezuelan vice-minister of foreign relations for North America. Edgardo Lander is a Venezuelan sociologist who’s part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution. Lander is a retired professor at Central University in Venezuela.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s begin with Carlos Ron. The reports in the United States were that a plane was at the ready on the tarmac for President Maduro to flee Venezuela to Cuba, but he got a call from Russia that told him to stay. Can you tell us what the truth is and if you see this as a failed coup that’s over?
CARLOS RON: Well, thank you very much for the invitation.
First of all, I think this version from Washington is ridiculous, because I think President Maduro has made it clear that he’s not going to betray the will of Venezuelan people and just leave the country because of U.S. pressure. But also, it’s a wide misunderstanding of Venezuelan politics and of Venezuelan reality to think that, you know, he’s ready to get on a plane, but then he gets a call from Russia, and then that’s what stops him. I think it’s just a pretext from the failed U.S. policy here.
What is clear is that the United States is clearly and blatantly promoting a coup d’état in Venezuela, from every high-ranking official, from people in Congress like Marco Rubio, Bolton, Pompeo, etc. And, you know, during the whole day of the coup attempt, they were tweeting and threatening the Venezuelan military and asking the Venezuelan military to join them. There was clearly an intent. I think they have been fooled by their counterparts here, by their advisers, or by the people in the opposition who they speak to here, into believing that this is an easy thing to accomplish. And then, just to save face and not face the repercussions, they make up this story about Russia involvement or Cuban involvement and whatsoever. I mean, this is a—we’re a government run on behalf of the people of Venezuela, who elected us and who gave us their trust. And we’re going to keep—President Maduro is going to keep defending his position and the constitution.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, among the many statements that Trump administration officials have made, national security adviser John Bolton, who has made several statements, but among them, he has publicly claimed that three key Venezuelan officials had abandoned an agreement to leave the Maduro government. On Tuesday, Bolton tweeted a video in which he named the three officials.
JOHN BOLTON: It’s particularly important now that all of you speak to those in the military and the regime who can make a difference, to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, to Chief Judge of the Supreme Court Maikel Moreno and Commander of the Presidential Guard Rafael Hernández Dala. These are three people who agreed with Juan Guaidó to transfer power from Nicolás Maduro to the interim president. They need to act. Everybody who supports freedom for Venezuela needs to tell them to act now. Victory is within your grasp.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, I’d like to ask Edgardo Lander: Can you respond to that and the number of statements that have come from Trump administration officials about what’s happening in Venezuela and urging people in Venezuela to follow Guaidó?
EDGARDO LANDER: Good morning, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: And Nermeen.
EDGARDO LANDER: Of course, I have no direct access to judge these statements, but it’s obvious that this is just a continuation of this attempt by the U.S. government, by these neocons and hawks that are leading U.S. foreign policy in relation to Venezuela, and that they really have no problem making up whatever story they find is convenient in order to justify their actions. Obviously, there are some people in the current administration that want a military intervention in Venezuela. They want a regime change. And they don’t really need any excuse for that. They’re just making up stories to justify this intervention and try to convince people within the United States, try to convince people within the U.S. military, that find this to be a really dangerous adventure, and, of course, opposition on Capitol Hill.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you explain, Edgardo Lander, that it’s both Democrats and Republicans that are opposing Maduro? I mean, there are many progressive Venezuelans, as well, who are extremely critical of Maduro. You have the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty reports that have come out. I think one of the reports is titled, let’s see—”one of the reports”:https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/02/venezuela-hunger-punishment-and-fear-the-formula-for-repression-used-by-authorities-under-nicolas-maduro/ being titled “Fear and repression”—”Venezuela: Hunger, punishment and fear, the formula for repression used by authorities under Nicolás Maduro.” Enormous frustration with the elected president, Maduro, but also the horror that the U.S. is threatening war, like this comment from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking on Fox Business.
SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do. We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid violence. We have asked all the parties involved not to engage in that kind of activity. We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government there, where Maduro leaves and a new election is held. But the president has made clear, in the event that there comes a moment—and we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is, and the president will ultimately have to make that decision—he is prepared to do that, if that’s what’s required.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you have the reports of the National Security Council in the United States, the rage of the Bolton people, attacking a U.S. general for not coming up with more military options. You have Pompeo saying the U.S. is ready to go to war in Venezuela. But then you have, Edgardo Lander, progressives in Venezuela, as well, saying that Maduro has failed in leading Venezuela, that the country is in an absolute catastrophe.
EDGARDO LANDER: Well, that’s true. I am part of what could be called the critical left in Venezuela, that has been quite critical of the Maduro government for some time. We think that the Maduro government has completely failed. It has led to an incredible social and humanitarian crisis in the country. We have had a collapse of the economy. The economy today is 50% of what it used to be just five years ago. Oil production is about a fourth of what it used to be some five, six years ago. The government has increasingly gone beyond the constitution, and its main priority seems to be to remain in power no matter what. And it’s obvious that we need a transition.
The problem is how we have a transition. If we have the U.S. policy and Guaidó’s policy, this would mean a violent transition. This would mean civil war. This would mean a U.S. intervention. I belong to a small collective called the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, and we have been arguing for some time with other groups that what we need is some form of negotiation that would lead to asking the Venezuelan people what they want. We are asking for a consultive referendum in which people would be given a chance to decide if they want to continue with this government, if they want to continue with the National Assembly or if they want to open up the means to a democratic, electoral transition that’s defined by the Venezuelan people, not by U.S. pressure, not by U.S. sanctions, not by U.S. intervention, but a decision that should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people.
Both sides claim that they have a majority. Both sides are unwilling to even start any serious talks or negotiations. And yesterday’s activities, yesterday’s and the day before’s activities, just show the extreme to which both sides are pressing in order to avoid any negotiation. Every time there seems to be a chance of some talks that would lead to a negotiation, that would look forward to a nonviolent solution, then there’s a very active decision by one of the sides to blockade this possibility. I think the United States is doing everything possible to make it impossible to have a negotiation, because what they want is a rendition of Maduro. And this simply is not possible. We have a situation in which the two sides are at this moment forgetting politics as such. Both sides refuse to recognize the other side. And this is a warlike situation. It’s a situation in which both sides attempt to exterminate the other side. And this is certainly not possible in Venezuela today.
We have a confrontation between two sides that have a lot of power. On one side, one has the Maduro government. Maduro has the control of the state. He has the backing of the armed forces. And he has the backing of a sector of the population in Venezuela, which today is a minority—obviously it’s a minority, but it’s still there. This is something that’s seen from outside Venezuela, especially from right media. They simply refuse to recognize the fact that for a certain proportion of the Venezuelan popular sectors, there’s still some very active backing for the Maduro government. On the other side, we have Guaidó, who has become the most popular leader in the country today. He has backing of the—today, I can say that it’s the majority of the Venezuelan population. But its main strength, obviously, is not internal, but it is U.S. backing. And in this confrontation, unless there is a negotiation, there is a very, very high risk of a civil war, of very violent outcomes. And the United States, as you have said, has repeatedly insisted that the military option is on the table.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Carlos Ron, you are a senior member of the Maduro government, Venezuelan vice-minister of foreign relations for North America. Can you respond to what Edgardo said and what you think explains the precipitous collapse of so many aspects of Venezuelan governing structures, from the economy to public services, and most of this having occurred while Maduro has been in power?
CARLOS RON: Well, for sure, I have some disagreements with Edgardo, of course. I respect him. But that’s the whole point. I mean, we can have disagreements as Venezuelans, and that’s what this is about. You know, we need to solve our differences politically—and, in that, I agree with Edgardo—through dialogue, through politics, and not through violence. What we are seeing from the side of Guaidó and that group of extreme opposition leaders is really a call for another coup and a call for a violent overthrow the government and the invitation for a United States intervention. That’s what’s really more dangerous.
I think, you know, you see how U.S. officials are so committed to politics in Venezuela, and it’s obvious, because it does play into internal politics in the United States. I mean, there’s a reason why both sides of the aisle sort of go to the Venezuela issue, because they want the votes in Florida that they could get. Florida is a key state for the 2020 election. And when you have also candidates in the U.S. speaking about socialism, you see—democratic socialism or whatever you want to call it, but you see how the current administration is trying to downplay that by showing Venezuela as an example of a failed social experiment.
What they don’t take into account is that a lot of the problems that we have been having—and nobody can deny them—is the effects of sanctions and other measures taken by the United States against our government. I mean, there’s a financial blockade currently going on right now where at least about $6 billion are stuck in banks, where we can’t even make transactions to make basic purchases for food, medicine and supplies that we need to make the economy move forward and so forth. I mean, this is not fake; this is a reality. It’s so a reality that, about last week, when we were in New York, in the United Nations, the Department of State issued a fact sheet on their policies in Venezuela. And it was taken offline the very next morning, because as the key outcomes of U.S. policy in Venezuela, they put things such as Guaidó being interim president, $3.2 million being blocked in banks and in—we disagree with the amount, but just the fact that they were saying that this is an accomplishment of U.S. policy—the drop in oil production. I mean, there’s a recognition that there is an intent in U.S. policies to hinder the Venezuelan government’s capability of dealing with national problems. You know, we’re bound to have economic problems. That’s not something unheard of in a developing country. But there’s definitely an intent to make—to weaken government policies, to weaken the government, and to produce and take this to a regime change possibility.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Carlos Ron, could you clarify, though, first of all, whether you agree with Edgardo that, internally, a negotiated transition is needed, given the situation in Venezuela and Maduro’s unpopularity? I mean, Edgardo said that Guaidó is today the politician who is most popular among the Venezuelan people.
CARLOS RON: I disagree with Edgardo on that point, because I believe that if he were the most popular politician in Venezuela, he wouldn’t need the U.S. backing to come out to the streets and do what he’s doing. What I agree with him is in the fact that I think problems of Venezuelans have to be solved by Venezuelans and have to be solved in politics, not with violence, not with attempted coups. But, you know, we have a constitution. We have means of—we need to sit down and find different formulas to solve our problems.
We have disagreements on how we see—I mean, I support President Maduro, and I believe that our politics are the way we should go. And he has an other opinion. And I think, as Venezuelans, in a democracy, that’s what you do. You have differences of opinions, and then you try to play them out. But you don’t try to do this through violence, and you don’t try to do this through U.S. intervention. That’s a key point here. Whatever problems we have as Venezuelans, whatever differences, we have to work them out, first of all, amongst Venezuelans and, second of all, through the democratic mechanisms that there are.
AMY GOODMAN: I’d like to talk about the U.S. media coverage of the crisis in Venezuela over the last several months. In a piece published Tuesday, the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, known as FAIR, found the mainstream corporate media here in the United States did not publish even one opinion piece opposing regime change in Venezuela. The FAIR piece is headlined “Zero Percent of Elite Commentators Oppose Regime Change in Venezuela.” One example FAIR cited is a New York Times opinion piece published last month headlined “What My Fellow Liberals Don’t Get About Venezuela.” The video features Venezuelan-American comedian and writer Joanna Hausmann. Let’s go to a clip.
JOANNA HAUSMANN: Juan Guaidó is not an American right-wing puppet leading an illegitimate coup, but a social democrat appointed by the National Assembly, the only remaining democratically elected institution left in Venezuela. Guaidó’s job is to ensure free and fair elections, because—news flash—the last election was not free or fair.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times did not point out that Joanna’s father, Ricardo Hausmann, is a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaidó and was appointed by Guaidó to serve as Venezuela’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank. Edgardo Lander, could you talk about the media coverage and what that means?
EDGARDO LANDER: Well, it’s obvious that the corporate media has been following U.S. policy. And this isn’t new. I mean, it happened during the Iraq War. It’s happened in Libya. It’s happened in all over the place. The papers like The New York Times turn to be critical after the facts. Maybe 10 years from now, they’ll be critical of their position in relation to what’s happening in Venezuela.
But I also think that it’s important to recognize that the problems in Venezuela are not black and white. It’s not an issue of the democratic government, presented by Maduro, and some fascist opposition. The problems are much more complicated. And I think that one has to take into account that the serious economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is mainly due to the incapacity and corruption of the Maduro government.
It’s true that over the last two years U.S. sanctions has become a really critical, important issue—the fact that there’s a financial blockade, the fact that Venezuela has been highly dependent on oil exports and import from the United States has that—at this moment blockaded, the fact that Venezuela has no access to foreign credit, the fact that the central bank has been prohibited in dealing with dollars. I mean, there’s a whole range of sanctions that is having a huge impact on the Venezuelan economy.
But this has been happening mainly during the Trump administration, and this is from August 2017. But the economic crisis in Venezuela started way before that. The decay of the Venezuelan GDP, the decay of public services, the lowering of living standards, the limited access to what used to be the main achievements of Venezuelan process during the first decade are all things that were happening before the sanctions.
So we have a combination of a very incompetent government, an extremely corrupt government, an increasingly authoritarian government, on one side, and on the other side, we have this opposition, backed by the United States, with this constant threat of intervention. So we need to find a solution in which there is a possibility for the Venezuelan people to have a say and decide what they want for their country in a nonviolent way.
AMY GOODMAN: How do you envision that happening, Edgardo?
EDGARDO LANDER: The government has used the—
AMY GOODMAN: How do you envision that happening? You have these protests in the streets right now. You have people on both sides, even if this particular coup attempt has failed—and would you say, Edgardo, it has failed? How do you see this dialogue going across the political spectrum?
EDGARDO LANDER: Even though they claim now that there was no coup attempt, obviously there was a coup attempt. Guaidó himself called it a coup, coup in process. And it failed. And it just shows, in my perspective, that the Venezuelan population doesn’t want a violent solution. It doesn’t want a solution that is through a coup, through a military coup, and it does not want U.S. intervention.
There is always some talks going on, always sort of underground, backstage. And every time there’s something like the coup attempt this week, this attempt to have some sort of negotiation, some sort of alternative that’s not violent, that’s in the hands of Venezuelans, is once again postponed, because both sides then sort of back to their really rigid position and really try to maintain whatever power they have.
It’s extremely necessary to have a situation in which both sides recognize that they can’t defeat the other side. There’s no way that the Venezuelan government can survive ’til the end of the Maduro government, in terms of his 6-year period, because the economy is collapsing. People are in a really dramatic situation. It’s almost 4 million people that have left the country. This is an incredible political statement. People really can’t stand the situation anymore, and there has to be an alternative. But this alternative can’t be a coup. It can’t be a U.S. intervention. It can’t be violence.
AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Ron, I wanted to ask you about the embassy right now in Washington, D.C. We’re about to play a clip. We took a tour of it the other day. Activists, really American activists, are in charge of it right now. You, the Venezuelan government, gave them the keys. Can you explain why the Maduro government, why your government, has left the U.S. Embassy in Washington, D.C.?
CARLOS RON: Well, we have—we broke relations with the United States on January 23rd. And then, out of the process of that, we have—our diplomatic staff has left the embassy. However, it is Venezuelan property. It’s the property of the Venezuelan state. And we have allowed, as our guests, a collective of social movements that have used the space to meet and to speak about different issues of their concern, and because they themselves wanted to also make a statement that—against intervention in Venezuela and against the violation of international law, because, if you recall, a few weeks ago, there was a forceful entry into the consulate of Venezuela in New York and in two other buildings that are owned by the Venezuelan state, and they were given to the representatives of Guaidó, which is a violation of the Vienna Convention, Article 45 of the Vienna Convention, that says, even if two states break relations, there has to be respect for the premises. There has to be—the premises of the missions are inviolable. So, they need to be protected, and they were handed over illegally to the Venezuelan opposition.
AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Ron, we’re about to go into that embassy in a minute, but we just have a minute before we lose the satellite feed. Can you tell us what is the involvement of Russia right now in Venezuela?
CARLOS RON: Oh, we have a relation with Russia like we have a relationship with other countries such as China and other countries that we have established treaties. And, you know, thanks to foment—promoting development in Venezuela, I mean, the relationship is one of friendship and is one of cooperation. And that’s it. This isn’t the way it’s been portrayed by U.S. authorities as if, you know, there’s any other type of influence on the Venezuelan government. It’s the people of Venezuela who decide, through its elected leaders, what Venezuela does.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you both very much for being with us, Carlos Ron, Venezuelan vice-minister of foreign relations for North America, speaking to us from Caracas, and Edgardo Lander, a sociologist in Venezuela, where he’s part of the Citizen’s Platform in Defense of the Constitution, retired professor at Central University of Venezuela in Caracas.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. On Tuesday, we went down to Washington, D.C., where we met with activists who are occupying the Venezuelan Embassy. The Venezuelan government has left the building, but they gave their keys to these activists. They are demanding, the activists are, that the Trump administration cancel plans to turn the embassy over to Venezuelan opposition leaders. This is Ariel Gold with CodePink.
AMY GOODMAN: Here we are, outside the Venezuelan Embassy. Tell us who you are, who you’re with and why you’re here.
ARIEL GOLD: I’m Ariel Gold, and I’m the national co-director for CodePink. CodePink has been here—we’re going on week three—since April 14th. And we’ve been here in order to protect this embassy from takeover by Guaidó, who is Trump’s puppet. And Trump has been trying to—Trump and Elliott Abrams—to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela. And taking over this building is part of that.
AMY GOODMAN: How has the U.S. been involved with the takeover of this building? I mean, this was the embassy. It’s the embassy of the government of Venezuela. The president elected is Maduro. So what’s happened here? Where are Maduro’s people? Where is the government?
ARIEL GOLD: Well, the State Department has ordered all of the Venezuelan diplomats to leave the embassy, and they did in fact leave the embassy. But the Venezuelan government gave us permission—and we call ourselves the Embassy Protection Collective. They gave us permission to be inside this building 24/7.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us who you are and why you’re here today?
KEVIN ZEESE: My name’s Kevin Zeese. I’m with Popular Resistance. I’m part of the Embassy Protection Collective. We’re here today because this embassy is under attack. The Secret Service has been coming around, taking pictures. So, I’ve been in contact with the State Department. They tell us they are going to, at some point, remove us. I asked them what are they going to charge us with. And I say, “We’re here legally. We’re not trespassing. The Venezuelan government, the elected government, allows us to be here. They gave us a key to come in. So we’re lawfully here.”
The strange thing is, if the Trump administration comes in, they’ll be the law breakers. The Vienna Convention says this is inviolate. They can’t violate this embassy. They can’t trespass. They can’t unlawfully enter. They can’t give this to the opposition. That’s not their role. Their job, under the Vienna Convention, is to protect this embassy, not to violate it. So we’re here doing the job that the Trump administration should be doing.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you take us inside the embassy?
ARIEL GOLD: Yes. Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re walking to the back of the Venezuelan Embassy. Dangling from Ariel Gold of CodePink’s backpack, it says “Guaidó Not Welcome Here.” We’re going inside.
ARIEL GOLD: Here’s the key to the building—
AMY GOODMAN: OK.
ARIEL GOLD: —that we have, under permission from the Venezuelan government.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us what these—this is a baseball jersey? Magglio Ordóñez is here. Kevin, you want to explain?
KEVIN ZEESE: Álex González. They’re very—both Maduro and Chávez were baseball players. Baseball is a sport that’s very popular in Venezuela.
AMY GOODMAN: So, where are we going?
KEVIN ZEESE: Second floor.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Zeese.
KEVIN ZEESE: I was in Venezuela last May for the re-election of President Maduro. There was actually an election. He was not a dictator. Nine million people voted. Maduro received 6 million votes. There were more than 150 international election observers, and they unanimously came out and said that it met international standards for democracy, there was no fraud, and Maduro was legitimately elected. And comparing that to Guaidó, Guaidó won second place in the National Assembly election, 24% of the vote in the second-smallest state, with a tiny political party. He got in because the top two get in. And so—
AMY GOODMAN: He got in because?
KEVIN ZEESE: The top two winners, the top two in the race, get into the legislature. So he got in, barely got into the legislature, from a tiny state, with a tiny party. And then he was elevated by Trump and Pence to be the president. He was unknown by most—
AMY GOODMAN: How?
KEVIN ZEESE: Well, the night—well, it was a process, actually, that began in January at the OAS. They had multiple meetings to try to resolve this. Leopoldo López was on from video conference. They had been working on this for early—since that long. And finally, they decided on Guaidó as their guy. And the night before that Guaidó self-appointed, Michael Pence called him and said, “We’re behind you if you do it.” As soon as Guaidó announced, Trump immediately endorsed him, got the right-wing governments in Latin America and the Western European countries to join him. Why? Because the example of an independent Venezuela is a powerful example that they don’t want to see.
PROTESTERS: Hands off Venezuela! Hands off Venezuela! Hands off Venezuela! Hands off Venezuela!
AMY GOODMAN: That was Kevin Zeese with Popular Resistance, one of the dozens of protesters who have been occupying the Venezuelan Embassy for more than two weeks. Go to democracynow.org to hear more voices from inside the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C.