Photo: Juan Guaidó with Alberto Lobo Quintero, alias Brother (left), and Jairo Duran Contreras, alias Menor (right), both members of narcotrafficking paramilitary Los Rastrojos
By Nélida Tello
On September 12, pictures of Venezuelan opposition leader and lacky of US imperialism Juan Guaidó surfaced on Twitter with members of Los Rastrojos, a Colombian narco paramilitary group that operates on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela border. The pictures were taken in February in Colombia after Guaidó, who seeks to overthrow Maduro in the interests of US Imperialism, was barred from leaving Venezuela by the Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela in January.
Guaidó, the self-declared “Interim President” of Venezuela, crossed the Colombian border on February 22 to attend Venezuela Aid Live, a reactionary “benefit concert” organized by British billionaire Richard Branson, raising money for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) that operate in Venezuela and with Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia. On February 23 President Nicolas Maduro called for the partial closure of the border with Colombia, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Brazil amid attempts to bring “humanitarian aid” from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) into the country with the help of Guaidó’s opposition.
The “humanitarian aid” that US imperialists want to bring into Venezuela is not motivated by a desire to relieve suffering. If that were the case the US government would lift the crippling sanctions it has against Venezuela. Rather, it is intended to further destabilize the country, oust the current government, and bring it under the exclusive control of US imperialism. US imperialism has used NGO’s and “humanitarian aid” as counterinsurgency tools since the Vietnam War, and have now incorporated them into their general strategy of low-intensity warfare along with economic sanctions. Yesterday the USAID announced that they would be providing $52 million in “developmental assistance” for Guaidó’s opposition.
Before the pictures surfaced, it was presumed that the Colombian government had helped Guaidó cross the border, but these pictures now point to an even more nefarious relationship with narcotrafficking paramilitaries acting as a proxy for US imperialists and their lackeys in the Colombian government. The international drug trade has been connected to US imperialism throughout its history, sometimes used as a pretense for economic sanctions and US military operations, and at others used to fund rightwing paramilitaries fighting against popular movements and governments that are at-odds with US imperialism. The cultivation of coca plants is big business for the large landowners who patronize rightwing governments and seek to supply the demand for illegal drugs in the US.
While Guaidó and members of his party have denied any relationship between them and Los Rastrojos, the Foundation for Progress in Northern Santander reported that locals on the border were threatened by the paramilitary during Guaidó’s transit. Locals were forced to stay in their houses until Guaidó had been picked up by Cucuta city officials.
Colombian President Ivan Duque downplayed the photographs while praising Guaidó as, “a titan, a hero fighting for his country’s democracy.” Duque has played a leading role in the attempts to oust Maduro by aligning himself with US imperialism and acting at their behest in the region, trying to bring other South American countries on board with US plans for the installation and recognition of Guaido’s puppet government.
In the wake of these revelations four rightwing parties aligned with Guaidó’s opposition coalition have participated in negotiations with the Maduro government with the goal of national unity and dialogue. With Guaidó’s national support declining, US imperialism has pushed the Organization of American States (OAS), chaired by Colombia, to invoke the Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty (TIAR) to exert further pressure on Maduro’s government. Invoking the TIAR opens the door for further economic sanctions and possible military intervention, at the meeting yesterday signatories agreed to “capture” and extradite top officials in the Maduro government.
The ongoing conflict in Venezuela is a result of the internal contradictions of bureaucratic capitalism, activated and exacerbated by its external contradiction with US imperialism. Bureaucrat capitalism is the capitalism developed in the countries oppressed by imperialism, and is characterized in part by the struggle for power between bureaucratic and comprador factions of the bourgeoisie. In this case Maduro’s government represents the bureaucratic faction centered on state monopoly capital, while Guaidó’s opposition represents the comprador faction based off private monopoly capital.
US imperialism seeks to play off this contradiction by supporting the faction that more fully aligns with its goal of turning Venezuela into a US colony, and has done so at this point by nearly every means but full-scale military invasion. As Guaidó continues to reveal himself as lackey of US imperialism, rather than the champion of democracy he pretends to be, the masses’ resistance to foreign meddling in domestic affairs continues to grow. Their resistance to imperialism is a heroic struggle and can only be completed in the final instance by the New Democratic Revolution.