It wasn’t a good weekend for those hoping to see Venezuela interim President Juan Guaidó go to bed at the Miraflores Presidential Palace. Instead, he’s still in Colombia, and not looking very happy about it, waiting to meet with the Lima Group in Bogota on Monday.
Many believed this would all be over by now, and that future meetings of the Lima Group totally unnecessary.
After an inspiring concert on Friday in Colombia organized by Virgin Airways founder Richard Branson to raise money for humanitarian aid for Venezuela, the already delivered aid was supposed to start entering Venezuela on the following day, Saturday, even though usurper and dictator Nicolas Maduro vowed to stop it from coming in.
And Maduro did indeed stop it, despite all of the U.S. bravado saying that this aid was going to get through one way or the other. Here are the physical logistics of why Maduro succeeded, and the sad truths about the Venezuelans’ failure to make it otherwise.
The main transit points for the aid leaving Colombia and into Venezuela were two “paved” crossing routes at the Simon Bolivar and Tienditas bridges connecting the two countries. All Maduro had to do was stop all transit and gatherings on the Venezuela side of those bridges, and that was pretty easy to do, considering the narrow nature of these crossings. Interim Guaidó’s plan didn’t include any contingencies or routes or surprises to bring any of this aid in through other off-the-beaten-track foot routes, albeit as ineffective as those might be. But because this is politics, this was a major fail. Nothing at all got through.
Maduro simply cleared the Venezuelan side of the border of all opposition protesters, and then stopped opposition protesters from pouring in with aid from the Colombian side, which was even easier.
And although some Maduro supporters, his “Colectivos,” worked their way into Colombia and attacked the opposition, Colombia security forces quickly took care of these situations.
Reports say two dead, around fifty wounded, and although accurate statistics are always hard to come by in this part of the world, this seems about right. There was no major carnage, no slaughter, no reason for U.S. military intervention, because there was no major uprising on the part of the Venezuelan people for the U.S. to support. Same thing for the minor crossings into Brazil.
That’s the sad truth. When push came to shove, most Venezuelans stayed home, and stayed away from where their presence could have made a big difference.
On Sunday morning, Guaidó pitifully asked for “U.S. intervention,” inferring military intervention, even though the conditions on the ground this weekend couldn’t make such a request anywhere near valid.
Pompeo commented on the situation in an interview with Chris Wallace Sunday morning, and he wasn’t beating those war drums as he has over the past few weeks. The Lima Group meets Monday to discuss the crisis, but the U.S. isn’t part of that, although Pence will be attending. So unless they call for military intervention, with Colombia and its President Ivan Duque taking the lead, I don’t think anyone can expect the U.S. to go it alone. (And with Canada as a founding member of Lima, don’t get your hopes up.)
Should Colombia, or Brazil, or anyone cross those borders to throw Maduro out, expect the U.S. to “support” them with troops and firepower, even though the U.S. wouldn’t be there in just a support role, but instead, still carrying most of the military load.
But absent the willingness of Venezuelans to actually stand up and fight for themselves? Even knowing the U.S. has their back?
At this point, it would be a political death trap for Trump, and he now realizes it. Maduro didn’t give Trump a good enough excuse this weekend to give the order.