Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
January 23 is a date that holds special importance with Venezuelans, as it was the anniversary of the successful 1958 revolution against then-dictator Pérez Jiménez. So when the president of the democratically-elected national assembly, Juan Guaidó, was sworn in as the interim president of Venezuela on the 23rd, history seems on a direct course to repeat because of two critical factors, one of which you probably have never heard about.
Immediately, President Trump recognized Guaidó as the interim president, as did most of South and Central America, Canada, the UK, and then the European Union. The dictatorships of the world united in support of the Maduro dictatorship and the continued oppression of the Venezuelan people. After all, the once-prosperous nation has been used by Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah and drug cartels as bases of operation for years.
Venezuelans are enthusiastically embracing President Guaidó and the democratically-elected and constitutional legislature, and millions fill the streets daily in support, but the roadblock to restoring freedom and the economy is the allegiance of the military and police who are still protecting Maduro and effectively supporting the regime.
However this situation can not last.
While the military and police have arrested more than 700 supporters of Guaidó and assaulted many, the numbers of murders are–at present–relatively low, a sign their support of Maduro may have limits, and that many may be taking seriously Guaidó’s offer of amnesty if they commit no violence or switch support to Guaidó.
The Guardian reports that some police officers are already expressing support for amnesty:
We have had enough – we are also normal people and we are suffering like everyone else,” said one police officer who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal. “That’s why [we] want change and we believe that this government must go. We want these insects to go.
Support from abroad is unshakable, and this will be encouraging the military and police. International Sanctions and widespread diplomatic recognition, ad well as blocking Maduro’s last ditch scheme to transfer $7 billion in assets from England are tightening the noose and bringing important support as the military and police make up their minds.
Russia sent hundreds of ‘paramilitary’ forces and mercenaries—following the non-uniformed’ ‘plausible deniability’ tactic they used in Putin’s war against Ukraine, but there’s little that Russian mercenaries and warplanes or an Iranian warship can do against millions of fed-up Venezuelans.
Russia abandons the dictator. Two important Kremlin spokespersons (Fyodor Lukyanov and Dmitri Peskov) made it clear on Monday 28E that Russia has neither the resources nor the infrastructure to support the dictator Nicolás Maduro in power. They even denied that Moscow was sending mercenaries to protect the usurper.
As a further sign that Putin quickly assessed that his strategic base of operations in South America has become history, he is stealing and flying to Moscow at least 20 tons of gold–wealth of the Venezuelan people. Turkey is also plundering Venezuelan gold.
Like many other dictators facing the angry mob, Maduro may see his options as either fleeing to Cuba or Russia with his top henchmen or ordering a ‘last stand’ order to the military and police to slaughter Guaidó and the millions holding the streets. But violence or even the loss of Guaidó wouldn’t stop the Berlin Wall-type momentum for freedom. Read on for the reasons.
While masked police with the elite Special Action Force have been committing atrocities, they are not on the scale necessary to stop a popular revolution–that would require the full support of the rank and file military and police. The reality is the military and police would refuse the order, and either withdraw their protection of Maduro or directly back President Guaidó and the populace–and possibly turn their guns on Maduro and his cronies.
Here’s one reason why. Unlike corrupt generals and elite units or even foreign mercenaries, the rank and file military and police suffer in life with the same empty stores, closed hospitals, water shortages and million-percent inflation as do regular citizens, and they will have little desire to perpetuate their misery by defending Maduro, and a great abhorrence to gun down their fellow citizens.
Additionally, corrupt generals still standing with Maduro may be ready to bolt, as they may have their own foreign bank accounts and escape plans for the moment it looks bad. In the end, remaining generals and the Russian mercenaries can only escort Maduro to exile or await arrest.
Already, a few government officials and a top air force general have switched allegiance to President Guaido, which in coming days may become massive defections. This is the start of the ‘iceberg meets Titanic’ moment for Maduro and a signal to the rank and file military and police that it is safe to abandon Maduro and embrace Guaidó .
However, even more than the allegiance of the military and police, there’s another factor that spells the irrevocable end of Maduro’s dictatorship.
On January 23, the citizens and the military rank and file suddenly began to experience a sense of ‘rising expectations,’ that once released, is incredibly hard to put back in the bottle. I expanded upon this effect in a piece in The Hill last year on how ‘rising expectations’ have changed North Korea forever, and the principle is directly applicable to Venezuela today.
After two decades of catastrophic Socialist dictates that bludgeoned Venezuela from being one of the most prosperous nations in the region to one of the most impoverished, Venezuelans suddenly see a bright light at the end of the tunnel with a united opposition under President Guaidó’s leadership, coupled with overwhelming international support. Their long-crushed hopes for prosperity, food, medicine and a happy future are springing up. You can see it in the faces of the millions who are rallying in the streets of Caracas.
They won’t give up this hope for anything.
That’s the theory of ‘rising expectations,’ and why Maduro can not win this war even if he tries to crush the revolution. All the aid from Russia, Cuba, China, Iran and the drug cartels that profited from and enforced Maduro’s tyranny can’t stop history any more than the Soviets could stop the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet empire itself, once the East Germans took to heart that the Berlin Wall could in fact fall.
Oh, once Maduro is gone, Cubans, Chinese, Iranians, Russians, North Koreans and other oppressed people around the world will notice, and they will experience their own sense of rising expectations.
Freedom is contagious!
It’s time for Maduro to flee ahead of revenge by angry citizens or to take the generous offer of amnesty from President Guaidó, and for all of his elite forces and rank and file police and military personnel to take advantage of the amnesty and stand with Guaidó as well.
No matter what happens over the coming weeks, the irrevocable countdown to the end of the Maduro regime has started, and the people will eventually win, and as did East Germans almost 30 years ago, Venezuelans will experience once again the sweet joy of freedom.
Art Harman is the Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration. He was the Legislative Director and foreign policy advisor for Rep. Stockman (R-Texas) in the 113th Congress, and is a veteran policy analyst and grass-roots political expert. His expertise includes foreign relations, border security/amnesty, national security, transportation, foreign broadcasting and NASA/space policy. Mr. Harman developed the strategy to kill the 2013 Senate “gang of eight” amnesty bill as violating the Origination Clause, and provided policy advice to the Trump campaign, transition. and White House. He wrote what became the ‘bible’ of post-Brexit trade relations which was introduced in 2016 by Sen. Mike Lee as S. 3123, the United Kingdom Trade Continuity Act. Harman is a frequent guest on radio shows on key policy issues, and a photographer.