The United States is attempting to push Venezuela in to a civil war by recognizing un-elected opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, an American human rights expert and peace activist says.
“Clearly they’re trying to foment a coup and possibly push the country into civil war,” said Daniel Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the state of Pennsylvania.
“They’re recognizing someone who wasn’t only not elected, he didn’t even run for office,” Kovalik told Press TV on Thursday.
Guaido, the president of Venezuela's opposition-led National Assembly, declared himself interim president of the country on Wednesday, and was immediately recognized by the administration of US President Donald Trump.
“There’s no constitutional basis in Venezuela for this man to announce that he’s president and there’s no basis for Trump to recognize him,” Kovalik said.
“So clearly the US is behind this, as they have been behind so many coups in Latin America in the past century or more,” he added.
Shortly after Trump's recognition of Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, President Nicolas Maduro said he was severing diplomatic and political ties with Washington, claiming that the US has given “orders” for a coup in the socialist Latin American country.
Several nations, including Iran, China, Turkey, Syria and Russia, have warned the United States against intervention in Venezuela by recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
Relations between Caracas and Washington have been tense since the late socialist President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999.
The Trump administration has steadily increased sanctions against officials in the government of Maduro, accusing it of stifling democracy by jailing opposition leaders.
Venezuela’s economy has collapsed under Maduro, with annual inflation running at 200,000 percent, and staple foods and basic medicine increasingly difficult to obtain, which has led to mass emigration.
Maduro has blamed a US-led economic war for the crisis, saying Washington is plotting to topple his socialist government.
In August 2017, American media reported that Trump had asked his top advisers about the potential for a US invasion of Venezuela. Around the same time, he said publicly that he would not rule out a “military option” to end the turmoil there.