OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign policy, under the auspices of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, is bucking the country’s long standing tradition of generally staying out of the affairs of governments to its south in Latin America. Indeed, Canada has been one of the major players orchestrating repeated coup attempts in Venezuela since Juan Guaido declared himself president in January.
Ben Rowswell, former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela, told Globe and Mail that “Ottawa would have thoroughly examined the strategy the Venezuelan opposition was proposing before publicly supporting Mr. Guaido,” according to the outlet. He added:
To have countries that represent two-thirds of the population of Latin America do it in minutes shows there was a remarkable alignment that’s got to be nearly unprecedented in the history of Latin America.
What you might be seeing here is success of some extraordinary quiet diplomacy.”
Perhaps the strongest indicator that Guaido’s Popular Will party coordinated Guaido’s self-declaration of presidency with international backers is a tweet from long-time opposition leader María Corina Machado. She took selfies with Guaido in 2014 at the height of the violent Guarimba protests that left 43 dead and hundreds injured by mobs and opposition booby traps.
About a week before Guaido’s declaration, Machado tweeted that he “is the president” and “the governments of the hemisphere are ready to recognize it.” Five days later, she gave an explicit death threat to Maduro on a Miami-based news station. Indeed, Machado had been tweeting about Juan Guaido — as well as his “ambassador” to the U.S., former Exxon lawyer Carlos Vecchio — as far back as 2010.
Machado’s Sumate NGO has taken tens of thousands of dollars from the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy, a cutout of the Central Intelligence Agency that serves as a front to protect the legitimacy of the civil-society groups it bankrolls. Machado was previously charged with involvement in a plot to assassinate Maduro.
ARAUCA/CUCUTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Venezuela’s crisis is spilling across the border into Colombia as Marxist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries recruit migrants to strengthen their ranks, according to five Colombian military commanders.
Violence still simmers in Colombia despite a 2016 peace deal with leftist FARC rebels, meant to end five decades of conflict. Dissident FARC fighters, the rebel National Liberation Army (ELN), right-wing paramilitaries and drug-trafficking gangs are battling each other and the military.
Keen for recruits, these armed groups are targeting Venezuelans as they traverse the porous 2,219-km (1,380-mile)frontier at illegal border crossings, according to the military officials, human rights officials and migrants themselves.
Five military commanders told Reuters that as many as 30% of insurgents in Colombia’s eastern border region are Venezuelans, willing to take up arms in return for food and pay.
Former Exxon Lawyer and Venezuela opposition envoy to Washington, Carlos Vecchio, may have overseen a multi-million dollar fraud scheme since his political allies were handed control of his country’s US-based oil accounts.
On June 17, Venezuela’s government claimed that the US Justice Department was opening an investigation into Citgo’s opposition-appointed board of directors. Hours later, the ad-hoc council confirmed it had received a subpoena from US officials.
Citgo appeared to confirm the existence of the US government probe, stating that it “received a subpoena from the Department of Justice, which has been conducting a multi-year investigation into corruption practices in PDVSA.” Citgo is a subsidiary of Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA), the country’s state-owned oil company.
Citgo said it has “pledged full cooperation” with the investigation. It did not specify the nature of the subpoena or whether it concerned illegal activities alleged to have taken place before or after Guaido’s appointees took control of the company.
Citgo’s announcement followed an ominous comment by Venezuela’s Vice Minister of Communications on June 17:
“It is very likely that the United States Department of Justice will open an ad hoc investigation into the fake board of directors that Juan Guaidó appointed to the Citgo company,” Rodriguez proclaimed during a presentation from Venezuela’s presidential palace.
According to Rodriguez, the investigation was sparked by an alleged accounting fraud totaling $70 million. Rodriguez asserted the money, originally meant to cover PDVSA’s 2020 bond payment due in April, was stolen by Guaido’s representative in the US.
“It seems like the person directly involved in having pocketed those $70 million in excesses, due to cooking the books, is Mr. Carlos Vecchio,” charged Rodriguez.