US officials warn of possible coup in Venezuela
CARACAS - According to US intelligence officials, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is at risk of being ousted by his own military, as the country experiences widespread unrest prompted by severe food shortages, daily power outages, triple-digit inflation and serious political tensions.
As protests rocked Caracas on Saturday and civil war appeared all but inevitable, opposition factions are attempting to oust Maduro, who has blamed the United States for the crisis in his country.
Addressing the nation on Friday, Maduro declared a "constitutional state of emergency ... to tend to our country and more importantly to prepare to denounce, neutralize and overcome the external and foreign aggressions against our country."
He also called for military exercises to take place next weekend to prepare for "any scenario”, including a foreign invasion.
However, not only is discontent growing among the traditional opposition, but fractures are also reported within Maduro's own Socialist Party.
This unrest may also be growing within the armed forces, who also feel the pinch of food shortages and inflation, with the risk that Maduro could end up being ousted in a military coup or some kind of a popular uprising.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has urged the Organisation of American States (OAS) to invoke a measure that would call an emergency meeting over fears of diminishing democracy in Venezuela.
Under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the OAS Permanent Council can meet to discuss situations in which democracy has been seriously impaired in a member state.
Venezuela's consent is not required if the OAS were to invoke the charter. The OAS Permanent Council includes one ambassador from each of the 35 member states who meet in Washington, DC.
José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch's Americas division, wrote to the OAS saying that the charter should be invoked in order to "press Venezuela to restore judicial independence and the protection of fundamental rights."
"The collapse of judicial independence in Venezuela and the resulting spread of human rights abuses and impunity implicate the most basic principles enshrined in the charter and other regional agreements," Vivanco wrote to OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro. "It is time to put this discussion on the table, and make the Venezuelan government accountable to the OAS for the dramatic erosion of the rule of law in the country."
On May 5, during a Permanent Council meeting, Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcy Rodríguez said the use of the Democratic Charter would violate Venezuela's sovereignty and interfere with its internal affairs.
Following Monday’s report of statements by Español Ramón Muchacho, the mayor of Chacao in Caracas, that people have been reduced to hunting cats, dogs and pigeons for food, many people in the region have commented on social media that Caribbean countries should send humanitarian aid to Venezuela:
“Dominicans have to help them; they helped Dominicans with houses after the storm. Send food for them.”
“Jamaica should step up and send food to Venezuela.”
“All the Caribbean and Belize should help the people of Venezuela.”
“Jamaica must help Venezuela!”
In Dominica, opposition leader Lennox Linton suggested that the island should assist Venezuela with a donation of $1 million from the economic citizenship program.
“Clearly Venezuela has committed a lot to Dominica over the years and now that the economy is in shambles, now that its hospitals are failing and children are dying …it behooves us to step up to the plate and do something and to show that we care not just about ourselves but other people around the world, especially people who have stepped forward and make sacrifice on our behalf. I am suggesting that the government must make a humanitarian contribution to the government and people of Venezuela immediately,” Linton said on local radio.