On January 27th, the Venezuelan military began moving heavy artillery systems, main battle tanks and military equipment towards the border with Colombia, according to footage posted by residents of Eastern Venezuela.
Venezuela forces, including Russian made self-propelled howitzer 2S19 Msta-S, allegedly on the move towards Colombia border pic.twitter.com/GUAQMHCUwA
— Already Happened (@M3t4_tr0n) January 27, 2019
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also posted a video on Twitter speaking to soldiers, saying that the army is prepared to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Nuestra #FANB está lista y preparada para defender la Soberanía Nacional y la Integridad Territorial, ante las pretensiones de vulnerar nuestra Patria sagrada. ¡Leales Siempre, Traidores Nunca! pic.twitter.com/AXJ8DMU16m
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) January 27, 2019
This is a sign that the Venezuelan Government, still officially headed by Maduro, is fearing a potential US invasion through Colombia.
Venezuela’s top commanders have pledged loyalty to Maduro’s government in the days since National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself interim president with the aim of calling new elections to legitimize the power in the event of success.
Guaido’s recent Twitter activity and speeches in media have all focused on a specific amnesty law that wishes to release many “unjustly” imprisoned. On January 27th, on Twitter he gave 3 conditions that needed to be fulfilled.
Que sepa el régimen y nuestro pueblo que no me quedare de brazos cruzados ante la masacre que están realizando en nuestros barrios y pueblos. Por ello, para la protección de nuestro pueblo quiero anunciar 3 decisiones: pic.twitter.com/bldtd5fsAB
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) January 27, 2019
The conditions are as follows:
1. Call an emergency meeting of all NGOs, advocates of Human Rights and National Assembly MPs to unify the information and raise the international complaint.
2. Announce the names of those responsible for the FAES, prosecutors and judges who have been in this “massacre” from January 22 onwards to request immediate sanctions and justice to the international community.
3. Formally request the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN, Michelle Bachelet to hasten her visit to our country, to be an eyewitness to the serious crisis in which the entire Venezuelan people live.
He is essentially organizing a sort of political witch hunt through the protests to eliminate all possible opposition he may have if Maduro and the current Venezuelan government are ousted out.
Defence Blog cited an anonymous source in Caracas who claimed that Maduro feared that the US troops being withdrawn from Syria and Afghanistan would be well-suited for redeployment in a Colombia-based conflict with Venezuela.
Sputnik cited a Colombian Defense Ministry spokesperson who said that the country would not provide the US with military bases for a possibly military intervention in Venezuela.
“No,” the spokesperson said. “The troops will remain at bases, there has been and there is going to be no redeployment of troops,” the Colombian Defense Ministry said on late January 25th. “Colombia is not staging provocations and will not allow anyone to provoke it, as Defense Minister [Guillermo] Botero has said, and we are conducting such policy toward Venezuela,” the ministry added.
On its part, the US continues its harsh rhetoric towards Venezuela.
On January 25th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Elliot Abrams is the new special envoy for Venezuela.
.@SecPompeo announced today that Elliott Abrams will lead @StateDept efforts on #Venezuela to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country. #EstamosUnidosVE pic.twitter.com/iUFHnRhi8x
— Department of State (@StateDept) January 25, 2019
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton also reinforced the US stance warning against any and all violence against US diplomats or self-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaido or the National Assembly. He also said that Cuba’s support for Maduro is also well known.
Cuba’s support and control over Maduro’s security and paramilitary forces are well known. 1/2
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 27, 2019
Any violence and intimidation against U.S. diplomatic personnel, Venezuela’s democratic leader, Juan Guiado, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response. 2/2
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 27, 2019
EU countries also gave Nicolas Maduro an 8-day ultimatum to organize “free and transparent elections” otherwise Juan Guaido would be recognized as official president. The statement was made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on January 26th.
French President Emmanuel Macro also repeated the Spanish ultimatum.
El pueblo venezolano debe poder decidir libremente su futuro. Sin elecciones anunciadas en 8 días, podriamos reconocer a @jguaido como « Presidente encargado » de Venezuela para implementar dicho proceso político. Trabajamos conjuntamente con nuestros aliados europeos. https://t.co/9RkwF0IamF
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 26, 2019
“Unless elections are announced within eight days, we will be ready to recognise @jguaido as ‘President in charge’ of Venezuela in order to trigger a political process.”
A spokesperson of the German government issued a similar statement.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that Guaido is “the right person to take Venezuela forward”.
“Time for a new start for the suffering ppl (people) of Venezuela,” Hunt said on January 26th.
EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini also called for fresh elections.
“In the absence of an announcement on the organisation of fresh elections with the necessary guarantees over the next days, the EU will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country’s leadership,” Mogherini said.
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded to the EU’s ultimatum by condemning it strongly.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 26th voted to discuss the situation in Venezuela at the request of the US despite opposition from Russia and China.
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