OPINION: A few weeks back Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro snubbed Chilean President Sebastian Pinera when the former compared the latter with August Pinochet, the brutal general turned dictator who ruled Chile from 1973 - 1990.

Pinochet had been brought into power with a US-backed coup d'etat that overthrew democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende. Pinochet was a prime example of US hegemony on South America after the US Monroe Doctrine 1823.

The US intervention was only challenged by Hugo Chavez in the 1990s when he united several  South American states in an effort to oust US interests from the continent.

Since then, the US constantly striving to remove socialist governments that sprang to power after the Pink Tide, reviving the spirit of of freedom in the continent.

So, when US-backed Juan Guaido declared he was the acting president of Venezuela in Jan 2019, that was like completing the circle around Maduro, who had half the charms that Chavez had and was neck-deep in the country's economic crisis, has thin chances of survival against this blatant intervention of the US and its European allies on the democratic setup of Venezuela.

But Maduro has survived, rather given quite the fightback. So much so that Pinera put the blame of the protests in Chile on Maduro's regime, saying, ''We are at a war with a powerful enemy that respects nothing.''

Earlier, Pinera has been a staunch critique of Maduro and has, in concert with the US, given full support to Guaido.

In February, Pinera joined Guaido in the Colombian side of Venezuela-Colombo border bridge to witness a ''controversial'' delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuelans - a move many back in Chile disapproved.

Later, on several occasions, Pinera has raised his voice against Maduro. In September, he bluntly said, ''Maduro is part of the problem and will never be part pf the solution. We need to end this regime.....the final conclusion must be that we have to do everything possible to ensure that the regime does not continue.

In Bolivia, when the leftist Evo Morales faced violent protests, and allegations of fraud after his re-election, Maduro described these protests as ''destablisation campaign'' and ''an attempted coup d'etat from external forces that try to deny Bolivian voters, the Bolivian people their democratic rights''.

As the rift between South American nations widens, if has become a chessboard for international players from the EU to Russia and China.

And with Russia's experience of intervening in Trump's elections and being part of so many conflicts around the world, it would only be thinkable that it may be lending its expertise to Venezuela in making things difficult for its opponents.

So, are Pinera's apprehension about Maduro true? Does Venezuela have a hand in Chile's protests? That could be just as true as the possibility of Chile and Colombia partaking in the Bolivian protests.

The World Students Society thanks author, Aneela Shahzad, a geopolitical analyst.


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