Washington has not fully given up attempts to remove Maduro from power.
Written by Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst
According to the Venezuelan Defense Ministry, an American military plane entered Venezuelan airspace on July 22. A statement released on July 23 denounced the violation of Venezuela’s airspace, an act described as a “flagrant provocation.” According to the Minister of Defense, the aerial intrusion took place in Venezuela’s northwest near the Colombian border for three minutes, covering 14 nautical miles over the westernmost area of the Serranía del Perijá.
The air raid took place during joint military exercises between the Colombian and American armed forces. The air raid was likely an American act of provocation and pressure rather than an accident. It is alarming behavior by Washington as it appears dialogue between the Venezuelan government and much of the American-Colombian backed right-wing opposition will take place in August in Mexico under the auspices of Norway.
On July 22, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro once again indicated on national television that he was “ready” for dialogue with the right-wing opposition and hoped to see sanctions against his country lifted – a condition that the U.S. is unlikely to accept. The meeting is especially crucial as regional elections should be taking place in November 2021, and for issues of legitimacy, Maduro wants the opposition to participate, even if they are radicals who are in favor of sanctions against the country to try and oust him from power. It will be difficult for the U.S. to abandon the right-wing opposition as they are the ones carrying out their demands and interests against the Venezuelan government.
However, even Washington has admitted that opposition figures like self-declared president Juan Guaidó have been an utter failure against Maduro.
Guaidó is under extreme pressure, especially since the radicals do not want negotiations with Maduro and the less radical right-wing opposition are fed up with him clowning around as “Venezuelan President” despite having no control over any government institutions or the military. The reality is that political pressure against Maduro has weakened. Even the Biden administration for now is showing less interest in regime-change operations, the EU is obviously following Washington, and the Lima Group – which supported Guaidó in Latin America – effectively no longer exists.
It must be noted that this is not the first time that Venezuelan airspace has been violated. According to the Venezuelan military, American planes have violated their airspace on at least 21 occasions this year thus far. Venezuela does not to rule out other hostile actions undermining the sovereignty of the country and its territorial integrity. The Venezuelan military also indicated that it has received orders from the President to “respond with force to any aggression.”
For Venezuela, these military threats are taken with absolute seriousness. It is recalled that in May 2020, Operation Gideon, a massive U.S.-backed regime change operation against Venezuela, ended in resounding failure. About sixty deserting paramilitaries led by American mercenaries had operated a night landing to attack the Venezuelan government. Eight insurgents were killed and 17 were captured, including two American citizens.
The presence of Russian specialists in Venezuela is regulated by a 2011 military cooperation agreement. According to the military attaché of the Venezuelan Embassy in Moscow, the agreement is about “technical-military cooperation.” Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova explained in March 2019 that “Russia does not change the balance of power in the region, Russia does not threaten anyone, unlike the citizens of Washington.” This had greatly displeased Washington, with U.S. special representative for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, promising that “the Russians will pay a price for this.”
Venezuela’s concern for U.S. military aggression is legitimate because Washington’s policy is not always rational and there are recent examples of coup and assassination attempts. It can be expected, even under the Biden administration, that the U.S. will attempt more Gideon-type operations rather than a massive military intervention like in Iraq and Afghanistan. For these types of operations, Colombia and Brazil become absolutely key as they have the most extensive borders with Venezuela, mostly jungle-thick that is easy to traverse illegally.
As Maduro ensures limited involvement of U.S. corporations in the Venezuelan oil industry and maintains amicable relations with Russia and China, he will continually be targeted by the U.S. and their Colombian proxies. Although air violations are unlikely to lead directly to a serious situation, it does demonstrate the intent of the U.S. to maintain a policy of maximum pressure against Venezuela – whether it be through sanctions, coup and assassination attempts, and violations against the country’s territorial sovereignty.
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