Military intervention or rescue in an undeclared war

By Luis Manuel Aguana

There's always time to avoid violence. I expressed that in an earlier note in September last year when the war drums were deafening (see Military intervention or strong dissuasion, in And it's true, it's always necessary to give peace a chance. Almost six months of that have passed and the worsening of the situation in Venezuela at all levels has been exponential, even though new political hopes have been opened with the appearance of Juan Guaidó as the protagonist of a new democratic epic.

But when I wrote that note, it wasn't clear who would be driving the opposition ship. Since January 23, 2019 we already know. We already know who, based on what was expressed there, can pick up the phone in behalf of the Venezuelans and call international 911 and ask the continental police to take care of ending the kidnapping of which we are victims, and expressed there the possibility of delegating that decision to popular sovereignty.

Whether the President in Charge, with authorization from the National Assembly via Article 187.11 of the Constitution, requests the presence of foreign military missions in the country, or the Venezuelan people themselves authorize it through a Popular Consultation as I suggested at that time, giving the "owner of the house" the opportunity to express his opinion in the face of such a serious fact for the life of the country, we Venezuelans have the right to know what we are buying with that and all its consequences. It's the right thing to do.

In my last notes I have expressed that the time has come to make that international call to the 911 of the continental police, even if they do not answer it or tell us that they will not answer our call. What happened on February 23 rang the bell. After seeing humanitarian aid burn at the border, no one in their right mind can believe that the regime will come out without violence. So let's negotiate an exit of Nicolás Maduro and his accomplices "peacefully" -which I doubt-, in the country there will remain thousands of armed fanatics on the war footing (which was openly demonstrated in the borders on the 23F) that will make stability impossible for any transitional government, especially if the Armed Forces are in a terminal state, for which foreign military aid will always be necessary.

And it's not that we want violence. Nobody wants it. But no matter how many pacifists we wish to be, there are limits that cannot be tolerated on pain of falling into what Sir Winston Churchill said in his famous saying: "He who humbles himself to avoid war, stays with humiliation and with war". I firmly believe that after the 23F the regime declared war on Venezuelans. It denies us the medicines and food we need and burns them. Well, it's up to us to see what we do with it.

But it's clear that we kidnap victims can't do it alone. The Liberator also knew this when he searched between 1817 and 1822 for what became known as the British Legion, made up of paid military volunteers from England, Scotland and Ireland (see in Spanish the pertinent article by Gustavo Azocar Alcalá, Bolívar: Traidor a la patria por pedir ayuda extranjera?, in to fight a war that was also not sought and that was given by the determination of Venezuelans to fight for their freedom. We have something like this now: the international communist mafia wants to keep the country with violence, despite our democratic rejection. So we have a war that we are not looking for, with communism and all the international delinquency that has made Venezuela its planetary refuge.

The unfortunate thing about all this is that the later we assimilate this fact, the worse it will be for us. Let us accept once and for all that it has already happened to us and we are trapped. And this is not going to be solved as easily as ceding half the country to criminals through negotiations that are impossible to sustain, let alone by giving them elections where they count the votes. They will always want everything. Americans know that even when their diplomacy, and Latin American diplomacy - read Grupo de Lima - insist on denying it. We're on a gunpowder barrel.

Why have the Americans delayed the military solution? For them it is very easy to get Maduro and his thousand thieves out in minutes - not even hours. The problem for them is that it happens after they take him out. According to the technical analysis of Adam Isaac, an expert in security and defense. (see Adam Isaac, “Thinking about the unthinkable: US Military Intervention in Venezuela” the United States would not initiate an intervention “without some pretext or provocation involving non-Venezuelans. There would have to be an initial spark, a “Gulf of Tonkin” moment, that makes the Maduro government appear to be the aggressor”. Isaac believes that this could begin on the border with Colombia and the assurances that Colombia has from the Americans to accompany and repel an aggression from Venezuela.

The expert predicts that before an intervention there would be “a period of fighting between Colombia and Venezuela before U.S. forces got involved”. In particular, I don't believe in a war between us and our brothers in Colombia. Venezuela also has no way of sustaining that, so the trigger for military intervention must be another.

As happened in Iraq, the Maduro government would almost certainly be pushed out. Top regime officials would either be killed or forced into exile. What would happen then?”. Again, the problem for them is not to get Maduro out but what would happen next, which is summarized in the following paragraphs of their analysis:

  • While I dislike recurring so often to the Iraq analogy (“fighting the last war”), it’s pretty likely that a post-conflict Venezuela would, as in Iraq, be challenged by insurgents committing acts of asymmetrical warfare. I have no idea whether the colectivos, Bolivarian Militias, expelled officers, renegade security forces, intelligence services, ELN, FPL, and others would collapse or persist. But it’s very plausible that many would persist, even without a unified leadership structure. They’d have illicit revenue streams, like cocaine, extortion, and fuel piracy, to sustain themselves. They could also be supplied by Russia.
  • Look at the “Bolivarian militias” alone. They have between 500,000 and 2 million members. Many are poorly trained, and probably undisciplined. Still, if even 10 percent of the low estimate opt for clandestine warfare, that’s 50,000 fighters from this force alone. At its height, Colombia’s FARC had half that.
  • And again, add to them the armed thugs in the “colectivos,” the FAES and other police units, the SEBIN, the FPL, the ELN, and any other radical elements who opt for violence.
  • Already,, an international firearms observatory, estimates there are 2.7 million illicit firearms in Venezuela. That’s the highest estimate in South America after Brazil.
  • This “insurgency” could make governance impossible in several regions and urban neighborhoods, perhaps for years. It could develop a big capacity to carry out terrorist attacks.
  • Under this scenario, U.S. forces could find themselves in Venezuela for many months, or even a few years—perhaps even propping up the Venezuelan government with “hearts and minds” counter-insurgency campaigns. Even if it is only a tiny fraction of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, it would cost many billions of dollars”.

Then, the problem of the United States would be to get caught in Venezuela fighting a war for years that is not theirs, that would cost millions of dollars to their taxpayers, and so we pay that bill will prefer whenever we negotiate a solution with those criminals as the author suggests. That is why they are still thinking about it with the consequent bloodshed of Venezuelans. The solution to this dilemma could be in the Plan Venezuela proposed by Juan Carlos Sosa Azpúrua (see in Spanish Juan Carlos Sosa Azpúrua “Jaque Mate a Maduro”, en

But I wonder, the alternative is to negotiate a communist enclave in Venezuela for not fighting that war? Do you believe that Maduro or whoever stays after him in a negotiated manner will magically disappear the armed militias and paramilitary groups that created these criminals, and that terrorize the peoples of Venezuela? Those will not disappear after Maduro! Would they voluntarily disarm? Because at this moment we have had that war for years without having been declared. Just look at the death toll in the last 15 years. What difference would it make? In what way would the war be declared? That wouldn't be reason enough not to fight it.

We are not asking the United States to stay and fight a disaster that we create. But I ask myself the same question that my dear friend Antonio Sánchez García asked in a recent and extraordinary article: "Why was a phenomenon with unquestionable geostrategic profiles and serious implications in the field of hemispheric, even global, security, because associated with Islamic narcoterrorism, removed without any strategic and tactical consideration from the concerns of the foreign ministries, the Ministries of Defence and the General Staff of the Latin American and Western Armed Forces?”  (see in Spanish Antonio Sánchez García “Maduro y el complejo antimilitarista latinoamericano”, in What's that supposed to mean? That they are as involved in this problem as we are. All of them, the United States and the Latin American countries, are indirectly responsible for this situation as we are directly. That may not be an excuse to shake off our guilt, but it is an excuse to demand without any regret that they help us get out of the problem and its implications.

We now have the predicament of facing a war that already exists and that the regime declared to us, with the serious violent implications that this will have in the country. But would the trigger of that be a foreign intervention to politically overthrow a functioning government or a rescue operation of a country to arrest criminals? The difference is remarkable. We ask friendly countries to help us stop the criminals who usurp the Venezuelan government and initiate a political transition. The subsequent conflict, which we know will come and will last as long as necessary, is ours and we hope they will help us face it, reorganizing with us what is necessary to rescue order within the country. Do not compare that with anything you have done in the past because this is a completely new situation.

I end with the closing words of Carlos Sánchez Berzaín at a conference on the Dictatorship in Venezuela and Organized Crime: "This is the great challenge for people who defend democracy: to separate politics from crime. Politicians can make mistakes, they can commit crimes... - and there are corrupt politicians, there are corrupt politicians - but that is a long way from the criminal organization that has managed to control political power; that they are not politicians, that they are not governors, that they cannot rely on sovereignty to protect their crimes. That they cannot use the right of States to have appropriated themselves to continue exercising the crime and to ask for immunities and privileges..." (see in Spanish Conferencia de Carlos Sánchez Berzain, in, min 11:55. I recommend seeing it in its entirety). And it's certainly a challenge. Maduro can no longer rely politically on the sovereignty of Venezuela to protect his crimes, nor can he continue to use the Venezuelan State indefinitely to commit crimes. That must stop immediately. It is time for friendly countries to see that difference and act accordingly.

Caracas, March 4, 2019


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