Beatrice Rangel, a former Chief of Staff to former Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez has said that a desperate President Nicolás Maduro may well order military intervention into Guyana as a means of trying to divert attention from his internal troubles, but not a single platoon of the armed forces of Venezuela will obey that order. “It is not going to happen, the military is too fragmented,” she said in response to my questioning her about such a possibility during a forum Thursday in Miami entitled ‘Voices from Venezuela’put on by the Council of the Americas.
Rangel had earlier argued that the Venezuelan President is desperate and is being “propped up” by a number of criminal mafia groups including the Russian mafia and the Colombian drug cartels, which are currently directing the Maduro regime’s every move. She criticized the international community’s lack of action on brokering a solution to the crisis in the once oil rich Latin American republic saying that the violence which is likely to erupt this Sunday, may force it to act. The opposition is scheduled to hold a vote this coming Sunday on Maduro’s leadership and Maduro holding a vote for a constituent assembly on July 30. This Sunday could be the bloodiest day in Venezuela’s recent history, Rangel said, pointing out that this may be the occasion for the Organization of American States (OAS) to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter and request the United Nations (UN) Security Council to address the crisis in Venezuela.
Rangel said the OAS resolution which fell short of passage by three votes at the recent General Assembly in Cancun, Mexico, was a result of threats and scare tactics carried out by Venezuela’s mafia connections which forced countries like neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago to abstain on the resolution out of fear. She said these groups had been terrorizing Trinidadian fishermen off the coast of Tobago, making life difficult for Tobagonians. However, a representative of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s non-governmental organizations participating in the forum later told me that Rangel’s analysis was flawed and that his country’s abstention had to do with future joint exploitation of oil and gas resources that are to be found in the maritime space of the two neighbouring countries.
Asked about the role of the oil industry Rangel said that is a complicated architecture of relationships and accused Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA of helping to finance and facilitate companies and interests whose access to finance and financial institutions has been cut off as a result of US sanctions placed on them. She cited as an example a reported recent telephone conversation between Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Putin suggested that Maduro may want to ensure he operates within the Constitution, to which Maduro responded that such advice could force him to ask Russian oil interests to leave Venezuela.
As for a solution to the crisis in Venezuela, Rangel said the international community has to broker a deal, but in the process of negotiation has to recognize that it is not dealing in an environment of traditional negotiations and therefore has to be tough, offering Maduro the option of peaceful exile or imprisonment. She also argued that there will have to be the emergence of a new political entity to counterbalance the current opposition. The new political party would have to be one that would represent the interests of the working and middle classes that supported the late Hugo Chávez.
The forum also heard from a number of other presenters from Venezuela including José Domingo Mujica, National Coordinator of the Electoral Assembly of Education, Professor Juan Manuel Raffle and journalists Marianela Balbi and Nathan Crooks, Venezuela Bureau Chief, Bloomberg.
Co-President of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) Mike McCormack and President of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Dr Troy Thomas were among participants from Caricom member states in the forum.