Not since the Cuban revolution, has the U.S. government played such an overtly activist role, writes Steve Ellner.
By Steve Ellner
Special to Consortium News
Washington’s recognition of the shadow government headed by Venezuelan National Assembly president Juan Guaidó is one more demonstration of how the Trump administration has radicalized foreign policy positions and in doing so violates international law, including the charter of the Organization of American States.
On this issue like others, the Obama administration laid the groundwork for Trump’s radicalization, but it was usually more discrete. Obama issued an executive order calling Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security and created a list of Venezuelan officials who were sanctioned.
The Trump administration’s escalation included financial sanctions against the Venezuelan government and measures against the nation’s oil industry, prohibiting the Venezuelan majority-owned refinery, CITGO, from sending profits back to Venezuela. Until then the Venezuelan government had been receiving one billion dollars a year from CITGO.
The Trump administration is now threatening a total oil embargo on Venezuela and is leaving the “military option” open.
In addition, top administration officials have played an openly activist role by traveling throughout the continent to promote the campaign to isolate Venezuela.
The first signal that the pro-U.S. international community would recognize the Guaidó government came from Washington along with its most right-wing ally, the Jair Bolsonaro government of Brazil. As of last year, Great Britain had intended to not recognize President Nicolás Maduro after he took office for his second term on January 10, but it intended to maintain diplomatic relations. Washington pushed for a more radical position, that of not only not recognizing Maduro but establishing diplomatic relations with a shadow government.
The activist approach to diplomacy was put in evidence the day after the January 23 opposition protests, when U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo offered $20 million of…