In an attempt to sway the military and policemen, Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president backed by the opposition and the United States, offered amnesty to soldiers and police officers who defect from the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro.
“What you have, not with me but with us, is a guarantee of protection,” Guaido declared to troops at an event held in the capital city, Caracas. Copies of an amnesty law drafted by parliament were distributed at the event.
This event, along with several others that started on Sunday, saw members of the opposition handing out letters to the military and police. The letters stated that the troops who contribute to the reestablishment of democratic order will be able to reinsert themselves into the democratic life of the country.
This move by the opposition, directly aimed at trying to undermine the troops’ current support for Maduro, came right after the endorsement received from Venezuela’s defence attaché to the United States, Colonel Jose Luis Silva. Silva has backed Guaido since he stepped down from his post.
“As the Venezuelan defence attaché in the United States, I do not recognise Mr Nicolas Maduro as president of Venezuela,” Silva told Miami-based newspaper El Nuevo Herald. “My message to all armed force members, to everyone who carries a gun, is to please not attack the people. We are also part of the people, and we’ve had enough of supporting a government that has betrayed the most basic principles and sold itself to other countries,” Silva stated during the interview.
The US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Australia and numerous Latin American countries have recognised Guaido as interim president. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the US might go as far as placing oil and gold transactions into the interim president’s hands.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Security Adviser John Bolton announced Monday that all property of Brazil’s oil company PDVSA subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be blocked, and all U.S. citizens are prohibited from trading with them.
That includes the Houston-based Citgo subsidiary of PDVSA. Mnuchin said the revenues earned by Venezuelan companies will be held in escrow until Guaidó has been granted control of the government or new elections are held in Venezuela.
“These are valuable assets that we are protecting for the benefit of the Venezuelan people,” Mnuchin told reporters Monday.
Germany, France, the UK and the EU have voiced their support for Guaido but withheld an official endorsement in case Maduro fails to call for free and fair presidential elections. Despite this, the UK discussed the handing over of Venezuela’s gold reserve in the Bank of England to Guaido to boost the opposition.
Maduro has the backing of Russia, China and Turkey, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voicing his support for Maduro during a phone call on Thursday.
Russia has denied recent allegations regarding the dispatch of Russian mercenaries by Kremlin to protect Maduro from a potential coup. Kremlin spokesman, Dimitri Peskov, stated the following: “We do not have such a plan. Being involved in the internal matters of Venezuela, like other countries, would only make things worse.”
Maduro defiant despite turmoil
During an interview with Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk’s Cuneyt Ozdemir in Caracas, Maduro stated: “You can see the unity of the law, the people and the military on this occasion. Actually, all these developments are very complicated and difficult to resolve. The solution to the problem is in the laws and justice. This incident will be concluded by the supreme judiciary. There is rule of law in Venezuela.”