TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Israel has recognized opposition figure Juan Guaidó as the president of Venezuela, following in the footsteps of Washington and a host of other nations.
As the Electronic Intifada’s Tamara Nassar succinctly put it: “illegitimacy attracts illegitimacy.”
Less than two weeks after Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated on January 10, 2019 as the president following his May 2018 reelection, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced America’s “unwavering support” of the opposition against the “dictator” Maduro. Pence spoke with Guaidó on January 15 and again on the night he made his on-camera remarks. The following day, Guaidó declared himself the president.
A slew of countries quickly banded together to support the coup.
“Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership of Venezuela,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video announcement.
Israel joins the United States, Canada, most of the countries of Latin America and countries in Europe in recognizing the new leadership in Venezuela. pic.twitter.com/gs6OdXKNCy
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) January 27, 2019
Guaidó responded in a tweet, thanking apartheid Israel for its support and invoking the liberation of Auschwitz in order to draw a sick parallel to the “fight for freedom” in his country.
Hace 74 años se liberó el campo de concentración de #Auschwitz y hoy justamente cuando nuestro país lleva también una lucha por su la libertad, agradecemos el reconocimiento y apoyo al Primer Ministro de Israel Benjamín Netanyahu @netanyahu https://t.co/IPCEylODB9
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) January 27, 2019
Opposition leader María Corina Machado, who proclaimed that Guaidó is “the President in charge of Venezuela” nearly a week before Guaidó anointed himself to the position, also thanked Netanyahu, declaring that “the people of Venezuela look forward to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel.”
Thank you,Prime Minister @netanyahu. Israel joins our many allies in the hemisphere in welcoming Venezuela back to the bloc of Western democratic nations that oppose despots and oppression.The people of Vzla look forward to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel. https://t.co/bbNVPbwiUN
— María Corina Machado (@MariaCorinaYA) January 27, 2019
Machado is a well-known figure in the Venezuelan opposition. She started an election monitoring organization called Súmate, which was accused by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of being funded to the tune of $31.000 by the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA soft-power cutout linked to regime-change operations, including in Venezuela in 2002. Machado also ran for president, was charged with being involved in a plot to assassinate Maduro, and has organized multiple waves of protests in the country.
Israel standing up for democracy, rule of law, and the people of Venezuela. https://t.co/dzP55hWgWT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 27, 2019
Israel’s support for the Washington-educated anti-Chavista Guaidó is not terribly surprising. The Venezuelan opposition, of which Guaidó became the face overnight, and the Israeli government both are right-wing and encourage vigilantism. Analysts have attributed much of Israel’s involvement in the war in Syria to its desire to continue and expand its occupation of the Golan Heights because of its oil reserves. In Venezuela, Guaidó has already started to try to privatize Venezuela’s national oil company.
The puppet "president" that Donald Trump and @JustinTrudeau purport to have appointed to rule Venezuela thanks Israel and Benjamin @Netanyahu for supporting his imaginary regime. https://t.co/sBLbfXtL6D
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) January 28, 2019
Israel and the South American fascist insurgency
Beyond the parallels, Venezuela and Israel have a traditionally tenuous relationship. “Israel is financing the Venezuelan opposition. There are even groups of Israeli terrorists, of the Mossad, who are after me trying to kill me,” Chavez declared in 2010. He had broken off diplomatic ties with Israel after the 2008-09 Gaza War, which left more than a thousand Palestinians dead. Chavez had previously slammed Israel during the Israel-Lebanon war, even before any Arab or Muslim countries, according to Al Jazeera. Chavez said Israel was conducting a “new Holocaust” with the help of the U.S.
Now that Israel has recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela's president, will he announce he's reversing Chavez's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Israel? (I suspect he has more pressing matters right now)
— Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) January 27, 2019
While Guaidó’s long-term prospects remain in question, it is possible that Netanyahu sees a potential leader who could reopen ties with Israel and even open an embassy in Jerusalem, to which Netanyahu has been pushing countries to relocate their embassies. So far, Guatemala and the U.S. are the only countries to do so, while Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (who has also been vocally supportive of the coup in Venezuela) has promised to move his embassy to Jerusalem. Paraguay also agreed, but the decision was reversed by its new president.
Bolsonaro and Guaidó represent a fascist insurgency in South America characterized by extreme hostility to Marxism and governments that claim to uphold it, preference for neoliberal austerity policies, and fondness for street violence. Israel has supported both figures. Bolsonaro, who has supported torture, trashed gays, and threatened to purge leftists is even said to have a “bromance” with Netanyahu.
Top Photo | Palestinians hold photos of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro during a support rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Jan. 24, 2019. Majdi Mohammed | AP
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.