Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Venezuela

Venezuela Meltdown Update (5)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Interim Pres Guaido warns Russia and China and negotiates with the military. Novaya Gazeta reports the Maduro regime flew twenty tons of gold out of the country on a chartered B757, that returned with a payload of $1B in cash to support the regime. Media debate continues, as does the debate over the ideological Left in the West continuing to defend the Maduro regime.

Venezuela Might Mutate Into Yet Another US-China Battlefield – Historian – Sputnik International

The US and China have taken opposite sides with regard to the ongoing Venezuelan crisis. Speaking to Sputnik, former UN independent expert Alfred de Zayas and Chinese academic Jiang Shixue shared their views on Beijing’s relations with Caracas, explaining why self-proclaimed interim President Juan Guaido has zero legitimacy.

Moderate rebels? Defecting Venezuelan soldiers beg Trump for weapons on CNN — RT World News

Two Venezuelan soldiers loyal to self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaidó have pleaded with the Trump administration for arms, in a bid to “realize Venezuelan freedom.” What could go wrong?

UAWire – Russia prepares to kiss goodbye to multi-billion investments in Venezuela

The US sanctions on PDVSA, the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, threaten to affect the Maduro government’s ability to repay its debts to Russia, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said on Tuesday. According to Storchak, Venezuela has borrowed more than $3 billion from Russia in intergovernmental loans. The debt had to be restructured in November 2017, when the repayment schedule became impossible for Nicolás Maduro, whose 6 year rule has seen the Venezuelan economy shrink by 33%, bringing the country of 30 million inhabitants to the verge of mass starvation. “There will probably be problems,” Storchak admitted, “Everything now will depend on the army, the soldiers, and how faithful they are to their duty and oath.” “Any other assessment is difficult, even impossible to give,” TASS cites the deputy finance minister as saying. According to him, Venezuela is currently still in a concessionary period with respect to its government debt to Russia, but the next $100 million payment is due in March. Venezuela paid its last tranche of the same amount in September. “The upcoming payment is the same. We have a fixed interest rate. When the time comes to return the loan, alongside the interest, part of the debt is repaid. This is the classic government debt repayment scheme,” the deputy finance minister explained. However, intergovernmental loans are only the tip of the multi-billion dollar iceberg of Russia’s investments in Venezuela, which President Vladimir Putin claims help Russia’s efforts to build a multipolar world. According to Reuters’ calculation, Moscow has invested a total of $17 billion in the Latin American country since 2006. Venezuela owes the Russian oil company Rosneft around $3.5 billion, observes Georgy Vashchenko, head of stock market operations at the Freedom Finance investment company. Though the money was given as a prepayment for Venezuelan oil, it is effectively a loan, with PDVSA’s future oil extractions as the collateral. As a result of the US sanctions, which have cut the Venezuelan company off from exporting oil to the US, Rosneft risks losing all these funds, Vashchenko notes. The Russian state-owned bank Gazprombank has invested another $150 million in Venezuela: the credit line was issued to a joint enterprise that was organized by PDVSA and one of the bank’s subsidiaries, Gazprombank Latin America Ventures B.V., which is registered in the Netherlands. It has invested in projects to develop to Venezuelan oil fields – Lagunillas Tierra and Bachaquero Tierra. Just like the loans issued by Rosneft to PDVSA, Gazprombank’s loans are secured by means of oil shipments. This “minimizes the risk,” a source close to the bank told TASS last week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia will do everything it can to support Nicolas Maduro’s government, which Russia calls Venezuela’s “legitimate government”. “We understand that the US has, simply put, taken the bit in its teeth, and publicly adopted a course to illegally change the regime. Nevertheless, this does not abolish the need to stand up for international law through all the available means,” he emphasized.

Golden flight. A cargo Boeing arrived in Venezuela from Russia in transit through Dubai and Morocco. And Maduro suddenly had a lot of money | Novaya Gazeta

On January 30, at noon, a Boeing 757 cargo plane landed at Caracas airport, which departed from Moscow at 4.50 on Tuesday, January 29. From Vnukovo airport, the board headed for the United Arab Emirates and landed in Dubai. And from there he went to Venezuela, having made two intermediate landings – in Moroccan Casablanca and in the town of Espargush in the territory of the island state of Cape Verde in West Africa. Over the past decade, this is the second flight of the Russian freight Boeing 757 to Caracas. On January 18–19, the plane made a flight on the route Moscow – Dubai – Agadir (Morocco) – Caracas. On January 21-23, he returned to Moscow, landing along the same Agadir and Dubai on the way.

UAWire – Media: Plane sent to Russia with Venezuelan gold returned with a billion dollars for Maduro

The Russian plane, which flew to Caracas and back, returned with a billion dollars for the dictator Nicolas Maduro. Novaya Gazeta reported with …

Maduro’s 20-Ton Pile of Gold Is Stuck in Limbo in Caracas Vault – Bloomberg

With 20 tons of gold stacked up for loading and shipping out of Venezuelan vaults, the mystery surrounding them — and the saber-rattling they’re sparking — is intensifying.

John Bolton on Twitter: “My advice to bankers, brokers, traders, facilitators, and other businesses: don’t deal in gold, oil, or other Venezuelan commodities being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia. We stand ready to continue to take action.”

US warns Maduro to stop intimidation tactics, ‘last-minute looting’ — or else

The Trump administration issued a stern warning to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday after reports emerged of “last-minute looting” by Russia and other countries of gold and oil — and “egregious” acts of intimidation against opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Venezuela’s Guaido courts Russia; powers divided on Maduro | Reuters

Global jostling intensified on Thursday between countries that want Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in power and those trying to force him to resign, as opposition leader Juan Guaido made overtures to his rival’s allies Russia and China.

Juan Guaido refuses to rule out accepting US military support – CNN

Self-declared interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido has refused to rule out accepting US military support amid the escalating political crisis, saying that the Venezuelan people want to end President Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship with “whatever pressure is necessary.”

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaidó discloses ‘clandestine meetings’ with the military

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EU parliament recognizes Guaido as Venezuelan interim president | Reuters

The European Parliament recognized Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido as de facto head of state on Thursday, heightening international pressure on the OPEC member’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Trump’s Venezuela crisis may mark start of ‘Second Cold War’ | TheHill

Juan Guaidó has begun working with the Trump administration to extend his power, but will they succeed in restoring freedom and prosperity for Venezuelans?

Juan Guaido says Nicolas Maduro sent shock troops to his family’s apartment | Daily Mail Online

Venezuela’s dictator Nicolas Maduro sent shock troops from his feared Special Action Forces to interim president Juan Guaido’s family home in Caracas in order to question his wife.

Venezuela’s Opposition Leader Says His Family Was Threatened | Time

Venezuela’s Juan Guaido warned police officers Thursday to stay away from his family after he accused them of showing up at his apartment

Venezuela’s Maduro is feeling the heat both inside and outside his country. Here’s the big question now | Fox News

For a socialist strongman, Maduro is looking very weak indeed. Here is why he may not stand much longer.

Cold War-like tensions escalate as world powers take sides in Venezuela

Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was willing to negotiate on Wednesday in an interview with a Russian television program. “I am ready to sit at the negotiating table with the opposition,” Maduro said on RIA Novosti, “so that we can talk for the good of Venezuela, for peace and its future.” His words, however, were not all forward-looking and optimistic.

Why Russia, China are fighting US push against Venezuela’s Maduro | Fox News

The United States continues to squeeze and isolate the Venezuelan regime led by Nicolas Maduro with even more sanctions and prominent support for opposition leader Juan Guaido. But more than a week after protests erupted through the streets of the embattled nation, Maduro remains steadfast – with the hand of Russia and China working in and out of the shadows, complicating US efforts for change.

US-Russia battle for Venezuela

A new front in geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Russia has opened in Venezuela, with both declaring their support for rival leaders in the troubled country.

Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro says US invasion would be worse than Vietnam

Venezuela’s disputed President Nicolas Maduro warns the United States is in danger of turning his country into another conflict like the Vietnam War.

Venezuela opposition ‘has met military’, says Juan Guaidó – BBC News

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó says his team has held talks with the army about regime change.

Maduro and Guaidó are vying for Venezuelan military backing – YouTube

Opinion | Venezuela’s Best Path to Democracy? Pay Off the Military – The New York Times

It often comes with a steep asking price, but the military has played a critical role in establishing democracy in many countries.

U.S. Intervention Could Be Maduro’s Lifeline – Foreign Policy

Attempts at regime change have backfired on Washington before.

Gen. Anthony Tata: Trump is right to keep all options on the table in Venezuela | Fox News

The Trump administration is applying all of the right levers to achieve a favorable result for the people of Venezuela and the national security of the United States.

Liberal Dems fret over ‘US backed coup’ in Venezuela against socialist dictator Maduro | Fox News

Several liberal Democrats are speaking out against the Trump administration’s stance against Venezuelan socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro — even describing the support for opposition leader Juan Guaido as a “US backed coup” — despite bipartisan support elsewhere for the administration’s actions.

Pence to rally support for Venezuela’s Guaidó in Miami, official says – CBS News

The vice president will give a speech to members of the Venezuelan exile community

‘We are dealing with a dictatorship,’ Venezuela’s Guaido tells FRANCE 24

Scenes from a protest: Venezuelans fill streets of capital

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelans of every age, class and profession poured into the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that President Nicolas Maduro step down and to express their support for the young opposition leader who has declared himself interim president. Dressed in suits, scrubs, and jeans, they waved the national flag, displayed signs, and chanted slogans. One disgusted vendor threw devalued national currency into the air. Protesters who made an appearance were heeding a call from opposition leader Juan Guaido to stage mass demonstrations despite crackdowns on previous protests.

Venezuela’s ‘Legitimacy’ Dispute Hides a Deeper Conflict – The New York Times

The legitimacy of Venezuela’s leadership is at the heart of a domestic crisis and a raging international debate. But how the crisis is resolved may hinge on other factors.

Opinion | The U.S. Needs to Stay Out of Venezuela – The New York Times

Yes, the country’s people deserve a better government. But Elliott Abrams and John Bolton shouldn’t have a say in what it looks like.

‘Stop The Maduro Genocide’: Protesters March In Venezuela With U.S. Support : NPR

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó called for nationwide rallies a week after he declared himself interim president and demanded Nicolás Maduro step down or call new elections.

Opinion: Foreign Forces Did Not Start Venezuela’s Transition. Venezuela Did : NPR

Venezuela’s government and opposition triggered the political standoff that is drawing an international response. Latin America expert Javier Corrales explains how.

Ilhan Omar on Twitter: “A US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face. Trump’s efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.”

Venezuela Crisis: The Left’s Hollow Defense of Maduro – Bloomberg

In Venezuela, regime change is really the only way for anti-imperialists to get what they say they want.