BERLIN/CARACAS (Own report) – Chancellor Merkel will meet one of Venezuela’s leading government opposition politicians today in the Chancellery. Julio Borges, who, according to reports, supported the 2002 putsch attempt in Caracas, will discuss the political development in Venezuela with the chancellor. Fierce power struggles are being waged in that country. The opposition, mainly composed of representatives of the traditional wealthy elites, has ties to Western powers und is also supported by Berlin. With its operational assistance, for example in advising Borges’ Primero Justícia (Justice First) party in “political communication,” the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation has been playing a special role. Primero Justícia had also participated in the 2002-attempted putsch. Berlin is pursuing an approach similar to that used in other Latin American countries, wherein it regularly supports the traditional elites. This resembles the German authorities’ interventions in the run-up to the putsch in Ukraine.
Contacts in Berlin
On the Way to Power
Currently, a Venezuelan opposition delegation is again having a high-level consultation visit to the EU. Parliamentary President Julio Borges is reported to discuss the political situation in Venezuela, today, Wednesday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Monday, Borges had met with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and in Madrid he held talks with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis on Tuesday. A meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May is also planned. Borges, the founder of the Primero Justícia party, according to a journal on US foreign policy, as well as information from observers of the period, had personally supported the attempted putsch to overthrow Chávez in April 2002. Today, in his struggle against incumbent President Nicolás Maduro, he is seeking to take power.
No Right of Interference
Germany and other EU countries’ blatant support for the Venezuelan opposition has begun to create diplomatic conflicts. Already in mid-August, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza summoned Germany’s Ambassador in Caracas, Stefan Andreas Herzberg, and presented him with a note protesting Berlin’s open support for the government’s opponents. “Neither Germany, nor any other country in the world, has the right,” Arreaza declared, “to interfere in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.” Monday, Arreaza summoned Herzberg again, giving him, along with his Spanish and Italian counterparts, another note of protest. This time the protest pertained to the fact that Caracas had denied the departure of the Venezuelan government opponent; Lilian Tintori, who had sought to accompany Borges on last weekend’s trip to Europe. The German government sharply protested. Tintori, who was also scheduled to meet with Chancellor Merkel, was not allowed to leave the country, because of a pending court subpoena, provoked by last week’s discovery in her car, of 200 million bolivars in cash. This is equivalent to several tens-of-thousands of euros, a considerable amount for Venezuela. Because Tintori and her lawyer had contradicted one another in their explanations of the purpose of the money, the case will now be investigated by the court. The fact that February 15, 2017, Tintori had been received by US President Donald Trump also plays a role in this case. Trump has even threatened Venezuela with a military intervention.
The Traditional Elites
It is nothing new that Berlin interferes in Latin American countries’ domestic conflicts, openly supporting the respective traditional elites. German expressions of sympathy for the cold coup carried out in Brazil, or even the FDP-affiliated Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s contacts to the putschists in Paraguay, and in Honduras are but a few of the examples. In late June 2009, the Naumann Foundation’s representative in Honduras at the time, Christian Lüth, defended the putsch, which had just taken place, calling it a correctly implemented “impeachment procedure.” (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Lüth has since become the press spokesperson for Germany’s new rightwing “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) party.
Assistance to a Putsch
Even beyond Latin America, it is usual German foreign policy in countries with insubmissive governments, to support that country’s forces of the opposition, inviting their opposition politicians to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chancellery for talks. One of the best known examples is the support for Vitali Klitschko, the Ukrainian opposition politician, at the time, initiated in 2010 by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. That assistance included extensive consultations on building his party, as well as several invitations to the foreign ministry and Chancellery for talks. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Berlin pursued this assistance right up to the February 2014 coup in Kiev.