The escape of Juan Guaidó from Venezuela has been the subject of controversy in recent days. Despite the fact that more than 20 investigations were opened against him for crimes such as usurpation of functions, corruption, money laundering, arms trafficking, terrorism, and treason, the Venezuelan courts decided not to imprison him.
In this context, many wonder why Guaidó is not in prison. The answer to this question has to do with a series of factors that go beyond the simple application of the law.
First of all, it is important to understand the role of Juan Guaidó in the political and social crisis that broke out in Venezuela: he was used by political and economic actors who—still—seek to impose their interests in the country.
Specifically, the real power hidden behind Guaidó is made up of a set of foreign forces. On the one hand are the oil companies based in the United States, which seek to control the energy resources of Venezuela to obtain economic benefits. In addition, the US State Department and White House, as well as the large financial operations in Europe and the United States, play an important role in Guaidó’s strategy.
Venezuela was at a complex crossroads because it had to face the interests of these external actors without placing its own sovereignty and political stability at risk. In this sense, the decision not to imprison Guaidó can be interpreted as an attempt to avoid a direct confrontation with these external forces.
The political landscape must be analyzed from a broad perspective. It is true that the measure [imprisoning Guaidó] is tempting because it would have bolstered the moral compass of Chavismo for a short period, but one must observe what has happened instead: an anti-Chavista lost his strength and support due to the errors of the anti-Chavista sector. The experience with these cases shows that when they flee the country and try to carry out politics from abroad, individuals fall into irrelevance and ostracism, lose credibility, and end up being hated by their followers. Antonio Ledezma, Julio Borges, and Leopoldo López are clear examples of this.
Another element must be pointed out regarding the reasons that would have made the imprisonment of Guaidó’s less strategically wise: the Venezuelan government is currently in an advantageous position over its detractors, thanks to high oil prices. While the United States is struggling with its fuel inventories, Venezuela benefits from the need of US citizens to access its oil to prevent gasoline prices from soaring further.
Joe Biden administration’s disadvantaged position was brought about by its own actions; more precisely, its war campaign against Russia, which has pushed fuel prices to historic levels. If this continues until the US presidential elections, it could play against the re-election of Biden, who has already announced his candidacy. This has led Biden to attempt to negotiate the terms of the US economic warfare on Venezuela with the country’s legitimate leaders (the administration of President Maduro) in order to have access to oil and increase the market volume in the Gulf of Mexico.
A snapshot of the current geopolitical situation is that of President Nicolás Maduro demanding from the US government the conditions for dialogue and negotiation. It is the oil, financial, and energy sectors of the United States that need Venezuela, and not the other way around.
We must not fail to underline how ephemeral the peak moment of the “Guaidó project” was, who lost credibility in the international arena and within the Venezuelan opposition itself, almost from the beginning. His self-proclamation as interim president in January 2019 did not have the support of most of the world’s countries, only of the founder of that project, the United States, and allied and subordinate governments in the European Union and in Latin America; the launch of the alleged “humanitarian aid” in February 2019 was disarmed in a few hours and the attempt to carry out a coup in April 2019 had practically zero support from Venezuela’s population and ultimately failed.
Putting Guaidó in prison could have revived the operation to remove President Maduro and would have certainly have brought it back into the conversation. Instead, the Venezuelan government followed a political route that managed to unblock a situation that no other country has faced before, and did so at the lowest possible cost.
Translated by Orinoco Tribune.