Venezuela Update: 25 January, 2019 5:00 PM Eastern Time

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On Friday Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido rejected Nicolas Maduro’s offer of talks, labeling them as “fake dialogue.” Today Maduro also appealed to President Trump and said he is ready to talk, without specifying what subjects he is prepared to discuss.

 

20 people were allegedly killed at the hands of Venezuelan security forces, and pro-government armed groups in protests held on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to UN human rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. The commissioner cited reliable sources when providing the number, although there has been no independent confirmation.

 

Maduro is closing the Venezuelan embassy, and consulates in the United States. With diplomatic relations now broken, US diplomats are to leave from Venezuela by the weekend. The departures have already started and are expected to be fully complete by Saturday morning.

 

The US has asked for a Saturday morning meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the Venezuelan situation.

 

International reaction is falling along the expected political, and ideological lines. The United States firmly backs the opposition and recognizes Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Most other Western Hemisphere nation-states are following the US lead, and so is Great Britain. The European Union, and many European nations are voicing support for Guaido’s opposition, but thus far have not officially recognized him as being Venezuela’s leader.

 

Not all Western Hemisphere nations back Guaido, however. Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Cuba have been steadfastly standing behind Maduro. Again, it comes down to political and ideological commonality. All three nations are leftist states. Mexico is staying on the sidelines despite past statements of support for the Maduro government by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

 

Outside of the Western Hemisphere, Russia, China, Syria, and Turkey are Maduro’s major backers.

 

Author’s Notes: We’ll continue keeping close tabs on Venezuela in the coming days. Barring any major events unfolding there or elsewhere, the next article published on Today’s Dirt will be the next entry on the US-Russia Military Balance in Europe. Enjoy your weekend!

Venezuela Update: 23 January, 2019 6:00 PM Eastern Time

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As expected, today has turned out to be an eventful day in Venezuela and it is not over yet. The revitalized opposition to Nicolas Maduro took to the streets of Caracas, and other major cities in the nation today demanding Maduro step down and cede power to National Assembly president Juan Guaidó, who is now being recognized by many nation-states as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The United States has loudly proclaimed its recognition of Guaidó, and support for the opposition. A number of nations across the globe are following the US lead and openly recognizing Guaidó.

The Maduro government responded to the US move by officially breaking off diplomatic relations with Washington. US diplomats in Venezuela have 72 hours to leave the country. It’s very likely that the US will respond to this move with additional economic sanctions in the short term. Beyond that, a number of options remain on the table depending on the course events take in the coming days.

Today’s protests in Venezuela drew tens of thousands of citizens at least. Accurate numbers are not yet available. National Guard soldiers responded with tear gas and there are reports of many clashes between soldiers and protesters, yet no reports of any deaths today. Last night, however, four protesters were killed in demonstrations. Tonight will likely bring on more protests, and tomorrow the opposition has called for large scale protests around the country.

The military remains the wild card. Maduro is urging the Venezuelan armed forces to remain united and disciplined. So long as the military remains tethered to the government, Maduro remains in power. If the moment comes when high-ranking officers, or military units start to break away from the regime, Maduro’s government could unravel swiftly.

I will provide additional updates periodically, as events continue to unfold in Venezuela.