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Fri Jun 26, 2020, 03:13 AM

Trump's Second Thoughts on Juan Guaido are Not Enough

June 25, 2020

After the president’s change of heart on Venezuela, and the waning of Juan Guaidó and his party, the entire Washington political establishment have a lot of explaining to do, says Steve Ellner.

President Donald J. Trump welcomes Juan Guaido, as interim president of Venezuela, to the White House on Feb. 5, 2020. (White House, Tia Dufour)

By Steve Ellner
Special to Consortium News

After nearly a year and a half of all-out efforts at regime change in Venezuela which took a major toll on the Venezuelan people, Donald Trump now tells the world he was never big on the strategy in the first place. On Friday, the U.S. president appeared to shove the blame onto advisers, and added “I think that I wasn’t necessarily in favor” of the policy of recognizing Juan Guaidó as president, but “I was OK with it.”

Trump’s statements made it seem as if Guaidó’s only sin was that he did not manage to seize power. This might-makes-right mindset belies what is happening on the ground in Venezuela which is much more complicated than just one leader’s approval rating. It also ignores the horrendous suffering of the Venezuelan people due to crippling sanctions imposed in August 2019, the result of a foreign policy decision that Trump now brushes off as a simple mistake.

A price is being paid even by those in Washington who are singularly concerned with U.S. prestige. The real story is that Washington placed all its faith in an untested leader of a radical, somewhat fringe, party; that strong resentment against the U.S. is now being expressed among Venezuelan leaders and voters who previously thought differently; and that with Trump’s recent statements, U.S. credibility sinks to an all-time low.

The latest news on Trump’s change of heart requires an analysis of the sea of change that has occurred politically in Venezuela. Such an analysis is much needed because Trump’s statement is unexplainable for those whose only source of information on Venezuela is the mainstream media. The analysis is also urgent because this week the White House is walking back Trump’s statement at the same time that Joe Biden is opposing any change in policy.


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