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Venezuela Unrest Creates A Battleground For U.S. And Russia

The State Department was more muted, saying only that Russian and Cuban intervention was “destabilizing for Venezuela.”

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Venezuela
Venezuelan Crisis Spurs May Day Rallies, Clashes. VOA

The unrest in Venezuela is turning into a battleground of rhetoric between the United States and Russia.

After a telephone conversation between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday, the Russian warned of “the most drastic of consequences” if the U.S. continued what he called “aggressive steps.”

The State Department was more muted, saying only that Russian and Cuban intervention was “destabilizing for Venezuela.”

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters at the White House in Washington, May 1, 2019.
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton talks to reporters at the White House in Washington, May 1, 2019. VOA

But White House national security adviser John Bolton said, “This is our hemisphere. It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering. This is a mistake on their part. It’s not going to lead to an improvement of relations.”

Pompeo said again Wednesday that the U.S. was prepared to use military action in Venezuela: “If that is what is required, this is what the United States will do.”

But Pompeo and President Donald Trump have not specified what would prompt the U.S. to intervene militarily.

Cuba denies troops in Venezuela

Meanwhile, a top Cuban diplomat denied U.S. accusations that thousands of Cuban troops were on the ground in Venezuela.

“Cuba does not participate in military operations nor in security operations in Venezuela,” Cuban Chief of U.S. Affairs Carlos Fernandez de Cossio told the Associated Press.

He said the 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela were primarily medical workers.

But he did say, as hemispheric partners, Cuba and Venezuela have the sovereign right to military and intelligence cooperation.

Cuba and Russia are longtime allies of Venezuela and its socialist government. Russia has supplied economic support and military equipment to the Maduro government, while Venezuela has sent billions of dollars in oil to Cuba in exchange for medical aid.

Guaido: More demonstrations

Supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized by the U.S. and more than 50 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful president, filled the streets again Wednesday, hurling rocks at police who responded with tear gas.

Guaido said a staggered industrial action would start Thursday, leading to a general strike.

“We’re going to remain in the streets until we achieve freedom for the Venezuelan people. The regime will try to increase the repression. It will try to persecute me,” he told demonstrators Wednesday.

As head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Guaido used the constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro’s presidency illegitimate, saying his election in December was a fraud.

Millions of Venezuelans — sick of out-of-control inflation, severe food and fuel shortages, a lack of medical care, and periodic blackouts — have fled the country.

Maduro accuses Guaido of coup

Maduro is accusing Guaido of trying to carry out a U.S.- and Colombian-supported coup and says the opposition will fail.

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He said demonstrators would be prosecuted “for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace.”

Neither Maduro nor Guaido can succeed, however, without the support of Venezuela’s powerful military. While many of the rank-and-file soldiers have joined the opposition, Maduro still has the backing of generals and other top military chiefs. (VOA)

Next Story

Russia Accuses Facebook, Google of Election Interference

“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement

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Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE - In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Many materials published on Facebook and Google resources can be considered interference in Russia’s internal affairs, said an official of the Russian Central Election Commission.

On Sunday, municipal and regional elections were held across Russia, with a total of 22 administrative centres electing city parliaments, and three regional capitals electing heads of municipalities, Sputnik news agency reported.

“Much of what is published there can be attributed to those materials that directly affect a person who is making a choice,” said Nikolai Bulayev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Election Commission.

“If there is an influence, I’m sure that this can be considered as interference in internal affairs,” Bulayev told reporters.

google
FILE – A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

On the day of the elections, Russia’s communication watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said that it had determined that several US Internet giants — Google, Facebook and Youtube — had featured politically charged advertisements on their platforms, which constituted foreign meddling in Russia’s electoral procedures.

“After monitoring various media platforms on the day of the elections, it has been determined that Google’s search engine, the Facebook social media platform and Youtube’s video hosting service featured political advertisements.

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“This can be considered foreign meddling into Russia’s state sovereignty and interference with the country’s democratic process,” the watchdog said in a statement.

The Russian parliamentary upper house’s Commission on Protecting State Sovereignty will look into possible foreign meddling in the country’s local elections in the second half of September, the commission’s chairman Andrei Klimov said on Sunday. (IANS)