Caracas, a City that Struggles

Marco Teruggi

Guaidó promises the “definitive phase of operation freedom”. Is it about buying time or the door to a new scenario?

The first rains fall on Caracas after months of drought. The city stops from time to time, returns to movement with the return of the sun. Soon will come the downpours of May, the columns of water, the sky dislodged. “Tropical rain is a powerful jet of water with a little air,” Vladimir Maiakovski wrote as he faced the first rain in the tropics. It begins the winter without cold that is deafening when beating on the houses of the neighborhoods, the plains overflowing, creating estuaries, shelters under palm roofs, long conversations with coffee, storytelling and questions that are as numerous as there are countries in Venezuela.

The only certainty at times seems to be that after the drought the rain will come, again the sun, and there will always be heat. The rest is very uncertain. It’s been like this since I arrived in 2013: each year was proclaimed the most difficult. 2019 was no exception, and more than a year seems to have passed between January and the end of April. Some dates help to order time: three months since Juan Guaidó’s self-proclamation, two since the attempt to forcefully enter Venezuelan territory through Colombia. Politics turned into tropical rain, with a little air.

At this end of April we are no longer as we were in the days when it seemed that we were approaching a possible break. The country has recovered a surface tranquility. Caracas has the form of daily life, that of a Caribbean city, hit by economic conditions, accustomed to struggle. There is no situation about to explode, of an uprising to demand that Guaidó be president. Never was the distance between the streets and the international declarations, social networks, and what happens in the visible and moves in the depths been so great.

A new assault is being prepared. What will its form be? That is the main question. In six years of life in Venezuela I have seen the right wing deploy paramilitary structures with actions against barracks and popular neighborhoods, carry out sabotage, assassinations of Chavista leaders, of innocent people in order to increase the number of dead in order to make political profit, and attempt an attack against President Nicolás Maduro. This is a lot, but more will come.

To answer this question is to inquire into the declarations and movements of those who are at the forefront of the plan against Venezuela: Donald Trump, the sector of neoconservatives in charge of operations, and the structures of the deep North American state that has maintained an invariant line against Chavismo. It is necessary to know where the head of the Southern Command, Craig Faller, the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, or the special envoy for Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, was and what they said.

For the moment they maintain different possibilities simultaneously: to propose that a military option is possible and would not be with the intervention of marines but with cyberattacks, naval blockade, a mercenary army, to assert that an intervention is still premature, to maintain that the outcome could be electoral with the participation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela without Nicolás Maduro. As far as the narrative of the conflict is concerned, they have escalated to the point of stating that Venezuela is the territory of operations of Russia, China, Cuba, Iran, Hezbollah, and the National Liberation Army. It is a priority issue in a context of escalating geopolitical disputes.

Every day can bring new statements, threats, and actions. The dynamic has its logic: assault, measurement of results, new maneuvers, narratives, and new assault. We are in a time of maneuvers, with economic attacks, sanctions against leaders, actions in international organizations, in the antechamber of the next great date announced by Guaidó for this May 1. According to his declarations, it will be the “definitive phase of operation freedom”. Will it be a new way to buy time or the door to a new scenario? We still don’t know. It does not depend on him, but on those who direct, finance, plan, and face the fact that the Bolivarian National Armed Force has not broken down and Guaidó is not able to massify his convocations.

For the time being, the U.S. ambition to achieve a rapid outcome remains. However, as William Brownfield, who was ambassador to Venezuela, said when breaking down the possible forms of intervention: “wait for the quick solution, but be prepared for the long-term solution”. The long term is the economy, the effects of escalating attacks that constitute a blockade. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza filed a complaint with the Organization of American States (OAS).

The long term is the economy, the effects of escalating attacks that form a blockade. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza filed the complaint with the United Nations on Wednesday, April 25. There he presented, among other things, the ways through which the country is suffocated, and how there are currently, for example, five billion euros withheld / stolen from the Venezuelan state in institutions such as Citibank, Novo Bank, Bank of England, North Capital Bank, among others.

Venezuela is an unprecedented field of action, a demonstration of current U.S. strategies, its zone of impunity to advance, the counterweights of other powers in a context of open disputes, the ability of Chavismo to face the violence of assaults. There is a mirror: it shows what a Latin American political process that is declared an enemy by the United States may have to face. It is not an exception, but the most advanced phase of the attempted overthrow.

The next announced date is May 1. Chavismo, like every year, will mobilize. The city, the country know it under the apparent tranquility. There is always the possibility of an event that accelerates, that changes the time and power of confrontation, that seeks to destroy. Meanwhile, the rainy season opens its way, the certainty of the alternation between the sun and the torrential downpours, the streams of water where only a little air remains.

Translation by Internationalist 360°