Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Venezuela

Venezuela Meltdown Update (20)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The stage is set.  Venezuela, Russia, and Cuba on one side.  Most of the rest of the world on the other.  The propaganda play is clear.  “We are the victims and the US is getting ready to invade” is Venezuela and Russia’s rallying cry. 

The camel’s back is at a breaking point. My prediction is the stick that breaks the camel’s back will come from Maduro’s troops against their not-so-precious citizens. It will be one soldier, perhaps even a Cuban, who squeezes the trigger without thinking. 

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No major developments, but many little ones, with the US ramping up pressure on Caracas and Havana. Russia continues its efforts to prop up the regime. Guaido returns to Venezuela. Around 600 desertions reported, but no formations have defected as yet – reports of 20,000 – 25,000 Cuban  “advisors” suggest these expeditionary elements are present to prevent any such defections, the Cubans know that if the Venezuelan military does change sides, they would immediately become the targets of payback no differently than foreign Taliban and Al Qaeda in 2001.

UAWire – Kremlin offers the US to start Venezuela negotiations

The Russian government has started to lose faith in its ability to keep Nicolás Maduro in power in Venezuela, despite the $17 billion Moscow has spent on assistance for the country over the last 12 years. When another of Venezuela’s major creditors – China – began negotiations with opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been recognized as interim president by the US, EU and 8 Latin American countries, the Russian Foreign Ministry contacted Washington, asking to begin bilateral consultations on the situation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced his willingness to discuss Venezuela’s fate during a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported. Although Moscow still considers Washington’s policy “overt interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and a gross violation of international law”, and views the humanitarian aid as merely a “disingenuous pretext” for “destructive external influence”, Lavrov said that his department is willing to negotiate, provided the UN Charter is strictly adhered to. He added that “only the Venezuelans have the right to determine their future”, perhaps hinting that Russia is no longer willing to prevent the second round of elections that the US and EU are insisting on. The phone call between Pompeo and Lavrov took place after Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez visited Moscow. During her visit, the decision was made to transfer the European office of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PDVSA, to Moscow. Since January, the company has been under severe US sanctions, making operation in Europe virtually impossible. “Venezuela is Russia’s strategic partner,” said Lavrov before meeting with Rodriguez. He added that Moscow “will categorically oppose brazen attempts to interfere” in its internal affairs. So far, Russia’s attempts to do this are “pitiful”, said US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams at a press conference: although Russia vetoed the UN Security Council Resolution proposed by the West, its own version of the document received only 4 votes. The Russians and Chinese are probably concerned that they may not be able to recover the money they invested in Maduro, but they must understand that it is only by restoring the economy that they can ensure they get their investments back, Abrams emphasized. “Talks between Russia and Maduro’s cronies are only useful if they are discussing retirement beaches for Maduro…” US National Security Advisor John Bolton said in a tweet on 1 March.

UAWire – Kremlin: the US will use any excuse to invade Venezuela

Chairwoman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matviyenko stated at a meeting with Vice President of Venezuela Delcy Rodríguez that the situation in Venezuela is yet another “test of strength” for those governments that previously organized coups in Iraq, Libya and other countries. She stated that the international community must not allow the legal government of Venezuela to be overthrown. “We are afraid that the United States could go for any provocation, so that blood could be spilled, and a reason found to invade Venezuela. But we will do everything to prevent this,” concluded Matviyenko, reported Parliamentary Newspaper. On February 27, the Russian Federation Council adopted a special decree by which Russian parliament will consider any attempt to invade Venezuela an act of aggression and a violation of international law. “We sent the text of the decree to all inter-parliamentary organizations and a number of international organizations,” stated Matviyenko as she gave the text of the statement to Rodriguez.

UAWire – Russian Defense Ministry aircraft spotted near Caracas

In the early morning hours of 3 March, an Il-62 aircraft (registration number RA-86496) belonging to the Russian Defense Ministry was detected in the region of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, according to information from Flightradar24. According to the flight tracking service, the Il-62 took off close to the Chkalovsky military airport near Moscow on the morning of 2 March. The plane adopted a course towards South Africa, flew over the Moroccan capital, Rabat, and approached Caracas in the early morning hours of 3 March. The Il-62 was spotted over Grenada in the Caribbean later that day. The Telegram channel “Another Roldugin”, which drew attention to the information from Flightradar24, said that the aircraft is assigned to the 223rd special flight unit of the Russian Air Force, which carries out special transport assignments for the president and government. “It flew to Venezuela from Russia at 9:34 local time yesterday and, after arriving at its destination, began the return journey almost immediately. Evidently the purpose of the flight was to deliver or collect some specific cargo. This aircraft had already been spotted in Caracas previously, and before this, it transported Russian troops to Syria,” the Telegram channel stated.

Juan Guaidó flies back to Venezuela despite arrest risk – BBC News

Venezuela’s self-declared interim leader risks arrest to return to a rally of fervent supporters.

Juan Guaido: Venezuela’s opposition leader returns home

Venezuela’s U.S.-supported opposition leader Juan Guaido returns home after defying a travel ban to meet with Latin American leaders.

Opinion | Venezuela’s Hunger Games – The New York Times

President Maduro, clinging desperately to power, uses humanitarian aid as a weapon against his own people.

Opinion | How to Tackle Venezuela’s Military Problem – The New York Times

The democratic transition will have to address the needs of the country’s unconventional military.

Pompeo Announces Tightening Of Cuba Embargo : NPR

The secretary of state said the administration must hold Cuba accountable for the property Havana seized in the wake of the 1959 communist revolution.

Trump administration OKs lawsuits against Cuba for property seized during revolution | Fox News

The State Department on Monday announced it would allow lawsuits to be brought against Cuba companies and individuals by people whose property was seized by the communist government during and after Fidel Castro’s revolution in the late 1950s.

Trump admin to let Americans sue some foreign firms doing business in Cuba

The administration has long sought ways to toughen the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba and has rolled back some measures enacted by the Obama administration.

U.S. allows lawsuits against Cuban entities but shields foreign firms for now | Reuters

The Trump administration said on Monday it would allow lawsuits by U.S. citizens against dozens of Cuban companies and other entities on Washington’s blacklist but will maintain, for now, a ban against suing foreign firms doing business on the communist-ruled island.

Why I thought Nicolas Maduro would be gone by now

On Jan. 31, while appearing on Fox News “Special Report,” I confidently suggested that Nicolas Maduro, the illegitimate occupier of the Venezuelan presidency, would be deposed within a month.

Bolton: Maduro regime ‘needs to end’ in Venezuela – CNN Video

In an interview with Jake Tapper, national security adviser John Bolton said the US is working to build a coalition to replace Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro and his regime.

John Bolton: ‘We’re not afraid to use the word Monroe Doctrine’

John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser, says the Trump administration is returning to the foreign policy principle of the Monroe Doctrine.

Bolton Claims Trump’s Venezuela Strategy Goes Back to the Monroe Doctrine | Vanity Fair

“This is a country in our hemisphere,” the national security advisor said on Sunday. “It’s been the objective of American presidents going back to Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”

Venezuela crisis: Juan Guaidó to return after tour – BBC News

Self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó calls for mass protests as he returns to Venezuela.

Venezuela crisis: Secret escape to anti-migration Hungary – BBC News

Notoriously anti-migrant Hungary is taking in Venezuelan refugees – if they are of Hungarian ancestry.

UAWire – Russia accuses the US of creating pretext to invade Venezuela

Russia seriously fears that the United States will use the failure of the American version of the resolution in the UN Security Council as a pretext for military intervention in Venezuela, said Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, during the UN Security Council meeting. Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN said that the United States was aware that there were no chances for the American version of the resolution to pass and used it only to get an opportunity for accusing the countries that rejected it of hindering humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, TASS reported. “Eventually, we have reached the climactic scene of the United States’ show of double standards on Venezuela,” said Nebenzya at the meeting of the UN Security Council. “We have serious concerns that today’s session may be used as a step forward in preparing a real intervention, not a humanitarian one, as a pretext for external interference for reasons of the UN Security Council’s alleged inability to settle the crisis in Venezuela,” said Russia’s permanent representative to the UN. Ma Zhaoxu, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, said that the text of the US resolution fundamentally differs from the Chinese stance.” South African Permanent Representative Jerry Matthews Martjila, who had also voted against the American version of the resolution, described the content of the document as biased. “The proposed US resolution does not reflect the root causes of this conflict,” the Permanent Representative of the Republic of South Africa emphasized.

TASS: World – Military solution to Venezuelan crisis «measure of last resort» — opposition leader

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said the opposition makes everything possible for the transition period to «pass peacefully»

No military intervention in Venezuela, just ‘appropriate actions’ – Abrams — RT USA News

US envoy to Venezuela and regime change enthusiast Elliott Abrams offered no specifics on the US’s further plans to oust President Nicolas Maduro, but warned that “dictatorships come to an end.”

Venezuela’s Guaido Says 600 Military Officers Have Abandoned Maduro

ASUNCION–Venezuelan interim president leader Juan Guaido, visiting Paraguay on March 1 to raise support for a change of …

567 Venezuelan soldiers defected to Colombia, and it could be a sign that Maduro’s once rock-solid power base is starting to crumble | Business Insider

More than 500 Venezuelan soldiers have fled President Nicolás Maduro’s crumbling regime for neighbouring Colombia, the Colombian migration authority reported Thursday.

Russia tells U.S. it is ready for bilateral talks on Venezuela | Reuters

Russia is ready to take part in bilateral talks with the United States over the issue of Venezuela, Russia’s foreign minister told his U.S. counterpart late on Saturday.

Hardship overshadows Venezuela’s carnival season | Fox News

It’s carnival season in Venezuela, though many citizens are not in a mood to party.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin details new sanctions against Venezuelan officials | One America News Network

Breaking News, Latest News and Current News from Breaking news and video. Latest Current News: U.S., World, Entertainment, Health, Business, Technology, Politics, Sports.

UAWire – Venezuela is ready to supply oil to Russia

Venezuela is ready to supply oil to Russia, Executive Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said at a meeting with Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin. “We continue our cooperation and we have a very rich and busy agenda. We are working on a number of issues in the field of energy, military-technical cooperation, finances, and economy. Russia has everything that Venezuela needs. For its part, Venezuela can supply oil that Russia needs,” Rodriguez said. She believes that it is a good opportunity for future cooperation. Earlier, on March 1, Rodriguez said that in connection with the expansion of cooperation with Rosneft and Gazprom, the European office of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA is being transferred from Lisbon to Moscow.

Venezuela to move state oil firm PDVSA office from Lisbon to Moscow | Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered state oil company PDVSA’s office in Lisbon to be relocated to Moscow, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday, a move she said was designed to help safeguard her country’s assets.

Venezuela to move oil HQ to Moscow in attempt to circumvent sanctions

Venezuela is moving the headquarters of its state oil company from Lisbon to Moscow, the country’s vice president, Delcy Rodriguez, announced Friday.

The ‘king-maker’ keeping Nicolas Maduro in power is starting to crack — here’s why Venezuela’s soldiers are breaking ranks, in their own words | Business Insider

Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who has been recognised as interim president by dozens of countries, said Friday that 600 military personnel had defected in the week since Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered them to block the entry of aid sent by the US as part of an effort to oust him.

Venezuela’s Guaido visits Ecuador to build pressure on rival | Fox News

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is in Ecuador as part of a continent-wide campaign to intensify pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to give up power.

Guaido Travels Across South America as His Momentum Slows | Time

Juan Guaido has first stop been traveling across South America to meet other leaders since he skipped out of Venezuela last week.

US ramps up Venezuela sanctions as Guaido tours South America | News | Al Jazeera

Guaido’s international backers are using a mix of sanctions and diplomacy to try to put pressure on Maduro.

US revokes visas of 49 Maduro-aligned officials in Venezuela | Fox News

The Trump administration announced Friday it is revoking the visas of 49 Maduro-aligned officials and their families and sanctioning several top military and security officials, part of a major U.S. campaign to push contested Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Trump to expel dozens of Maduro loyalists from the US

The Trump administration is expelling dozens of officials loyal to Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro from the United States, a top administration official announced Friday.

Venezuelans risk ‘dangerous’ trek as official borders remain shut | Colombia News | Al Jazeera

More Venezuelans are crossing armed group-controlled ‘trochas’ as main borders remain closed, rights groups say.

How Venezuela, once South America’s richest nation, descended into turmoil

President Nicolas Maduro faces a challenge from opposition leader Juan Guaido, who’s attracting more and more support as the crisis drags on, both internationally and from Venezuela’s military ranks. At the same time, inflation is spiking and unrest is reaching a fever pitch.

The most effective way to help Venezuelans: Stop politicizing aid – The Washington Post

This isn’t just a matter of doing what’s right — it’s a matter of doing what works.