This comes after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the interim president of Venezuela, backed by the US and its regional allies. In response, Maduro gave all US diplomats 72 hours to leave the country
Sputnik discussed the crisis in Venezuela with Michael Springmann, an attorney, author and former diplomat from Washington DC.
Sputnik: What's your take on the latest developments in Venezuela and is it all down to and underpinned by oil?
Some nine million Venezuelans voted for President Nicolas Maduro, so it's just unbelievable that the United States is essentially trying to spark a civil war between various factions in the country.
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Sputnik: What are the main reasons behind the latest protests now and what role has the United States had in this playing out at the moment, in your opinion?
Michael Springmann: The protests in Venezuela are directly laid at the door of the United States, going back 20 years, they've opposed Hugo Chavez's regime as being too socialist. George W. Bush in 2002 organised a coup that failed after two days.
And Barack Obama began placing economic restrictions on the Venezuelan oil industry, which is the main source of foreign exchange earnings and propped up the Venezuelan economy which was socialist and which was doing its best to bring hope and change to the poorest people in the country.
I mean the CIA overthrew the government of Chile not too long ago. The CIA has been involved in revolutions or something similar in Latin America, notably in Nicaragua with the Iran-Contra business, so I think that the Americans are at base at the cause of most of Venezuela's problems.
Sputnik: I'm just reading a tweet actually, I've been following, and it's actually asking who Juan Guaido is and this is from the Washington Post, so if the Washington Post doesn't know who he is why do we expect the American government to know who he is, it's very surprising.I mean there are similarities that have been asked by experts and commentators, and I suppose we understand why they're asking questions, and the global audience as to can this situation be compared to what happened in Syria and Libya, and what's the best way out of the crisis at the moment in your view? It's always going to be something that the American government, the United States is going to get involved with. I mentioned that in the first question in terms of oil of course. You've got two factions, you've got the US and their allies, and you've got countries that support Russia's point of view, so again, there's a potential conflict here, isn't there? How likely is there going to be some kind of conflict in the country, my colleague was talking to me about it, the armed forces are very pro Maduro and his predecessor, so it's difficult to assess where this is going?
Michael Springmann: Yes and I would definitely say that you can compare the situation in Venezuela to that in Syria and Libya. For example in Syria, the Unites States simply refused to accept the legitimate government of Syria and did its best to impose political and economic sanctions on the country and, when that failed, the United States invaded Syria.
In the case of Libya, for example, Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and murdered because he had established a socialist country which had the highest quality of life in all of Africa. And he was trying to create an alternative political union of African states with Libya as the leader, and that's exactly what Maduro and Chavez have been trying to do in Latin America, trying to get Venezuela to put together an organisation in opposition and in contrast to the organisation of American States which is backed by America.
One which I don't think will happen is a regime change in the United States, trying to get rid of not only the leadership but the people in the bureaucracies who have been stoking these attempts at coups in Latin American and elsewhere.
I think it's very simple also to withdraw from Venezuela, to let Venezuelans work out their own situation and end these sanctions, economic and political, and again another fanciful but practical situation would be to abolish the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of investigation.
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The FBI under Edgar Hoover was perfectly happy to let the CIA control events abroad with the exception of Latin America and the Caribbean, which he believed to be the FBI's territory and he wanted control over this.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.