Publisher Bruce Trogdon

As Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government scrambled on Wednesday to return power to western Venezuela following heavy looting, China offered to help the South American nation end its worst blackout ever. This is looking more and more like the kind of proxy war America used to fight against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The main difference to me is that this new Cold War is pitting the United States against both Russia and China these days. So many countries around the globe, like Syria, get caught up in this super power game of chess that it becomes hard to know which is the good side and which is the bad side.

To me and most Americans, we see Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the good guy trying to save his beleaguered country from the ravages of socialist president Nicolás Maduro. It is very hard for even the most ardent socialist to defend Maduro. Well, except maybe for America’s newest Democratic socialist star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has refused to denounce Maduro.

To me, the truth is to be found where it usually is ... somewhere in the middle. Maduro has indeed been very bad for Venezuela. But I am sure that Cortez and many House Democrats are correct that the U.S. is trying to quietly overthrow him. It is certainly in our best interests to have a more western-friendly government in power in this oil-rich country. Like in the middle east, oil tends to be the root of a lot of evil.

This week the Venezuelan power struggle has become literally about power, as the country is devolving into chaos dealing with electrical grid blackouts. As of this writing, things were becoming more dire by the day. Maduro has blamed the blackouts on the U.S. (offering no proof). Meanwhile, Guaidó and his supporters are placing the blame squarely on Maduro’s shoulders and are demonstrating in the streets. Maduro says the blackout crisis, as well as the state of the presidency itself, is a coup d’état led by the U.S. to topple him and control the country’s oil reserves.

At the time of this writing, power was returning to many parts of Venezuela after a nationwide outage that started last week, though it had not fully reached the western state of Zulia, where temperatures are high. Looters smashed shop windows and made off with merchandise from businesses across the state that are located along the border with Colombia.

Opposition legislator Nora Bracho said Wednesday that “this has truly been a tragedy ... Not having power is already a burden with the temperature at 104 degrees. In addition, there’s no potable water and no food.”

China on Wednesday said it was willing to provide help and technical support to restore electricity, and China backed up Maduro’s assertion that the problem was the result of sabotage.

Maduro’s critics say a technical problem with transmission lines linking the Guri hydroelectric plant in southeastern Venezuela to the national power grid likely caused the blackout. There is some evidence on their side. Certainly, the rampant corruption of the Maduro regime and over a decade of incompetent management by state authorities share a lot of the blame.

Did the opposition and the U.S. have anything to do with it? There is no proof, but it would not 100 percent surprise me either.

The United States is preparing to withdraw its remaining diplomats in Venezuela, an effort that will not involve the U.S. military.

Will this power struggle draw the U.S into war, like has happened so many times around the globe? I am in the dark about that one, but my hunch is no.

Who will win out in Venezuela, the socialist government of Maduro or the opposition led by Juan Guaidó? That is The Post online reader poll question for the week.

Last week, we asked, ”Do you worry a Chinese-developed 5G communications network would pose a privacy threat to the U.S. and other countries?” The result was not close, as 76.8 percent of you said “Yes” compared to 23.2 percent voting “No.”

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