Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Venezuela Affairs Unit

I'm sure you know the old joke. Why hasn't there been a coup in the United States? Because there's no U.S. Embassy there. Well, if you don't have an embassy, then you need to create something like it.

The State Department announced the creation of the "Venezuela Affairs Unit," headquartered in the U.S. Embassy in Colombia.

The VAU is continuing the U.S. mission to the legitimate Government of Venezuela and to the Venezuelan people.  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.
Its mission mostly is to oust Nicolás Maduro. Bloomberg had reported on this last month:
The Venezuela Affairs Unit, based at the U.S. embassy in Bogota, will allow the department to “engage the broadest and most meaningful group of Venezuelan actors” and “participate in the greatest number of events and meetings to affect change,” according to a letter sent by the State Department to Idaho Senator Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Does this mission include actually helping Venezuelans trying to get to the United States, especially since over a million are in Colombia? Given the administration's policy on the matter, we have to assume not.

A bigger future question is whether the high-profile foreign nature of this endeavor weakens Juan Guaidó's legitimacy. It's a U.S.-Colombia effort.
The United States welcomes the support of the Government of Colombia, which is a further demonstration of its steadfast commitment to democracy and peace in the region.
Empirically, that is hard to discern. According to a recent Datanálisis poll, Guaidó does not have majority approval of Venezuelans but remains the most popular. Disapproval (the red lines) is the norm across the political spectrum. At a minimum, it means Guaidó remains relatively popular despite the criticism of his U.S. ties.

All we can hope is that this unit doesn't make things worse while negotiations continue.


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