As President Trump announces that the US will recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new leader and sitting President Nicolás Maduro breaks off relations with the United States, we speak with a former UN independent expert who says the US is staging an illegal coup in the country. Alfred de Zayas, who visited Venezuela as a UN representative in 2017, says, “The mainstream media has been complicit in this attempted coup. … This reminds us of the run-up to the Iraq invasion of 2003.” We also speak with Miguel Tinker Salas, professor at Pomona College and author of The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela and Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue to talk about the situation in Venezuela. Is this a coup d’état? We’re joined by Alfred de Zayas in Geneva. He visited Venezuela in 2017 on behalf of the United Nations. At the time, he was the UN independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order. Still with us, Miguel Tinker Salas of Pomona College in California.
Alfred de Zayas, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about what we are seeing right now in Venezuela. Are we seeing a coup d’état unfolding?
ALFRED DE ZAYAS: First of all, Amy, I am quite honored to be on your program. I endorse every word that my knowledgeable colleague, Professor Tinker Salas, has just said.
As far as a coup d’état, well, it is not a consummated coup d’état. It is an attempted coup d’état. Now, we all believe in democracy. Your program is called Democracy Now! Now, there’s nothing more undemocratic than a coup d’état, and also boycotting elections. As you know, there have been 26, 27 elections in Venezuela since Chávez was elected in 1998. So, if you want to play the game, you have to participate in the elections. And if the opposition refused to participate in the elections, they bear responsibility for the situation that has ensued.
Beyond that, I want to endorse the…