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New push to ‘restore democracy’: US launches Venezuela affairs unit … in Colombia

New push to ‘restore democracy’: US launches Venezuela affairs unit … in Colombia
In a new bid to prop-up Juan Guaido, the self-styled “interim president” of Venezuela, Washington has announced the creation of a ‘Venezuela Affairs Unit’ (VAU). The new ‘diplomatic’ body will operate from Colombia.

The creation of the VAU was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. The new body will replace the basically non-existent US embassy to Venezuela – but it will only communicate with the Washington-propped Guaido, not the country's actual government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“The VAU is the interim diplomatic office of the US Government to Venezuela, located at the US Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, and has been established with bipartisan support from the US Congress,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The VAU will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people.”

The US has not had a full-fledged ambassador to the country since 2010, and the embassy was led by Charge d'Affaires James Story, who will now get behind the helm of the VAU. In March, all the remaining US diplomatic personnel were withdrawn from its embassy in Caracas as US-Venezuelan relations rapidly deteriorated after Washington threw their weight behind the self-styled ‘interim president’ Guaido in an aggressive push for regime change.

Despite the open US support to Guaido, he has so far failed to snatch power from Maduro, through either several waves of mass street protests or the late April coup attempt that resulted in a major failure. The opposition movement has seemingly lost momentum since then, yet the US has been hard at work trying to prop it up, repeatedly imposing new restrictions on the country’s government and threatening its foreign supporters – such as Russia and China – with secondary sanctions.

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Guaido is also backed by some of Venezuela’s neighbors, namely Brazil and Colombia. The latter is arguably the most active South American supporter of the Venezuelan anti-government movement, hence the US choice of Bogota for its new diplomatic mission of sorts.

Back in February, a bridge over the Tachira River, which connects Colombia to Venezuela, became the scene of a tense standoff between the Venezuelan National Guard and opposition forces who tried to breach the country’s borders with ‘aid’ trucks.

Some of the trucks were torched in the process and the imagery from the scene was used as ‘proof’ of Caracas' oppression and refusal to let its own people have the ‘aid’. It quickly turned out, however, that the trucks were torched by the protesters themselves.

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Caracas, meanwhile, has been open to aid from anyone except the US and its allies. The Venezuelan government has also accused the US of using the supposed aid deliveries as a cover to bring in weaponry and other supplies that could be used in staging a coup.

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