After pulling off one last stunt, resulting in his expulsion from Colombia, Gauidó has not only outlived his political usefulness but has become a source of embarrassment to his erstwhile handlers (primarily the US).
How fortunes have changed for Juan Guaidó, until recently Venezuela’s US-appointed “interim” president. Almost all of the 60 countries that once supported him have abandoned his “presidency” and interim government. In Latin America, all left-leaning governments, including neighbouring Colombia and Brazil, have reestablished ties with Nicolás Maduro’s administration and roundly condemned Guaidó’s attempt to bring it down by using foreign pressure to spark a military uprising.
In what seems like one last attempt to garner international attention, Guaidó began this week by furtively crossing the border from Venezuela into Colombia with the apparent intention of gatecrashing a one-day conference hosted by the Colombian President Gustavo Petro to discuss the fragile political situation in Venezuela. Representatives from 19 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the EU had been invited to the San Carlos Palace on Tuesday. Guaído claims he had also received an invite from Colombia’s Foreign Minister Alvaro Leyva, an allegation that Leyva strenuously denies.
On Monday afternoon, Guaído announced on social media that he had crossed into Colombia on foot to evade Maduro’s “persecution.” Spain’s El País reported on the same day that Gauído’s unexpected chess move had put Petro “en jaque” (in check) by causing a diplomatic crisis that threatened to disrupt the Colombian president’s one-day conference, which he had spent months preparing:
Juan Guaidó has become the protagonist of a party to which he was not invited and has sent the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, into an unexpected diplomatic scramble. This is a key week for Petro and his role in the Venezuelan crisis. Representatives from 20 countries will meet this Tuesday at a summit in Bogotá to try to reactivate the dialogue between Maduro’s government and the opposition that has been paralyzed for months. Neither of the two parties will participate in the meeting, but both the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition delegation… have given their support to the meeting. However, the presence of Guaidó in Colombia… has become a powder keg that threatens to spoil the conference.
“Juan Guaidó does not exist here or in Venezuela.”
Of course, Guaído’s claim that he had been invited to the conference is risible. Why would the foreign minister of a government that has treated Guaidó as a political non-entity since taking office last June invite him to a conference aimed at helping to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela — a crisis that Guaidó has done nothing but fuel and profit from? In September last year, Colombia’s Ambassador to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, told the Colombian newspaper Semana: “Juan Guaidó does not exist here or in Venezuela.”
It’s arguable whether Guaidó, as a political figure, exists anywhere anymore, apart from in the hearts and minds of certain demented US politicians. In late December, Venezuela’s opposition parties delivered the killer blow by voting to oust him as “interim president” and dissolve his parallel government.
In a statement Leyva said Guaidó was not welcome at the summit — as, indeed, was no other member of Venezuela’s opposition or government. Guaidó had apparently crossed the broader into Colombia in an “irregular” way (i.e., at a location that is not a designated point of entry), opening the door to possible deportation back to Venezuela. His goal, according to Leyva, was to “make noise” at the conference.
This is where it gets really interesting: according to Leyva, Colombia’s immigration authorities were apparently able to track Guaidó down thanks to a tip off from a senior US government official. Guaidó was then told that he had to leave the country as soon as possible and was accompanied by US agents all the way to Bogota’s El Dorado airport. At the airport a one-way ticket to Miami was paid for by the United States. In fact, according to Levya, all of the steps taken to remove Guaidó from Colombia were green lighted by US authorities.
On his arrival at Miami airport, Guaidó was seemingly met by no one but a few journalists:
Guaidó’s treatment at the hands of Petro’s government could not contrast more starkly with the VIP treatment he received from Petro’s predecessor Ivan Duque four years ago. In early 2019, during the first few months of Guaido’s “interim presidency”, both Duque and Brazil’s then President Jair Bolsonaro lent out planes belonging to their respective presidential fleets for Guaidó’s tour of South America, which included stops in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay. On his arrival in Bogota, on February 24, Guadó was given the full red carpet treatment, including full military honours, by the Duque government:
Of course, Duque was not the only head of state to give Guaidó such special treatment. For the first two years of his “interim” presidency, the governments of dozens of countries around the world — many of them the same NATO members or allies that now support sanctions on Russia as well as a broad smattering of South American nations, then under the control of US-aligned governments — recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader…
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