The blackout covering socialist Venezuela is not going away any time soon, and Venezuela's people are now facing famine. Up until now, they've been eating out of garbage trucks. International aid has been blocked by force. Now, they're raiding the sewers for water.
And the known death toll in the hospitals is high, at least 25, and nobody knows how many have died in places such as western Venezuela, where there is no power at all. Preemies have lost their incubaters, patients with kidney failure have died slow painful deaths without dialysis, diabetics have lost their refrigerated insulin, cancer patients have lost their chemotherapy treatments, people with other critical illnesses and conditions have not been able to reach doctors on the phone or been able to see hospital staff whose subway trips to work have been halted. People who were halfway through surgery when the blackout hit have fared very very grimly.
The ruin is total - no banks, no money, no stores to buy things from, nothing to buy anyway, no transport, no gas, no refrigeration, no food, no water, no medicine, no school, no word from government - and no hopes of anything getting fixed. Locals are burning out Chavista government establishments. The rest of the country looks like a scene from Blade Runner. Even the military, under pressure to defect to the democrats, is now affected. And with socialist mismanagement of the centralized power system the cause, it's not going to get better any time soon. The Venezuelan government has been weirdly silent, with only crude outbursts blaming the U.S. for sabotage, as if Venezuela's non-digitalized analog power system could actually be hacked.
So, amid rumblings seen in Twitter, the obvious has been called for in the last redoubt of democracy in the country, its National Assembly: Foreign military intervention, to save the country. The Chavista constitution they are operating on, put that right for the National Assembly in, probably imagining they'd rule forever, and might like some Russian or Cuban intervention at some point. Like a captured weapon, it's now being used against them.
And it's a big change. Up until now, U.S. intervention has always been a bad word in Latin America - in the press, in the ruling intelligentsia, in academia, among the left-leaning politicians. Never mind that people usually come running to the Marines and thank them, some maybe kissing the ground in gratitude, as happened with the U.S. hoseout of Cuban military rule in Grenada in 1983. When I visited Panama in 2000 and asked the locals about the 1990 Marine invasion to take out the drug-dealing dictator Manuel Noriega, the reaction also was gratitude. There's definitely a sort of have-it-both ways dynamic around the region from the past - with U.S. interventions denounced, but interventions for one's own country seen as a gift. It's not that different from 'Yankee go home - and take me with you.'
But this is different. This is people trying to save their literally dying nation. And they're speaking direction. It's a zero-apologies call for foreign intervention - from Venezuela's last remaining democratic institution, based on what prominent Venezuelans describe as recognizing "reality." The Venezuelans are calling the shots here and they mean to own this. Juan Guaido says he will call for it if international aid continues to be blocked by the Maduro dictatorship.
The dictatorship and all its ruinous killings is not going to be dislodged by gargantuan, millions-strong protests. It's not going to be dislodged by sanctions. It's not going to be dislodged by moral suasion to its top military leaders, who inexplicably remain with the Maduro dictatorship. It's held in place with foreign support. Its only way out is to be thrown out.
In the words of respected Venezuelan statesman Diego Arria, this has no comparison to spurious claims of imperialism:
The U.S. probably hasn't decided what it's going to do, but right now, it's got a strong longtime policy called the 'Monroe Doctrine' which was put there to keep foreign powers out of the hemisphere to protect Latin America's democracies. Just as Venezuelans have the justification in their Chavista constitution, so does the U.S. have in its longtime policy.
Cuban and other military rule definitely what's keeping the Maduroites in power. Cuban operatives are running the place, just as they ran Grenada, only with far more force and influence. They say they are going to fight.
President Trump isn't a big fan of military interventions, given that they tend to cost American lives and up until now have led to money- and corruption pits known as "nation-building." His Venezuela point man, Elliott Abrams, whom we know he differs with, on the other hand, does.
The U.S. has just announced the withdrawal of all its embassy personnel in Caracas. In the past, in Panama, that's been precisely the prelude to U.S. military intevention to prevent hostage-taking.
With most of Latin America, including the important countries such as Brazil and Colombia also onboard, it might happen.