The political crisis in Venezuela is for the country’s people to resolve. Intervention by the United States and Russia and allies to support either self-declared interim president Juan Guaido or the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro, has complicated difficult circumstances. Foreign military aid is not what Venezuelans need; if there is to be help to facilitate mediation, it should come from an impartial outsider. To take the interventionist approach adopted by US leader Donald Trump only risks conflict by hardening positions and widening divisions. Venezuelans have been suffering for years under the inept policies of Maduro. But it is not the hyperinflation, rising poverty and shortages of food and medicine that have forced about one in 10 of the country’s 30 million people to flee abroad that has prompted governments to choose sides. Trump has had political setbacks and he needs a quick victory to shore up domestic support. Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves and a devastated economy, is easy pickings. Embattled Venezuela president ‘ready to negotiate’ with opposition But the country is also a geopolitical minefield for the US and the West, with Russia and China having significant oil interests and the latter also being the biggest holder of debt. The US imports 41 per cent of the nation’s oil and its imposition of sanctions on the state-run petroleum firm PDVSA is aimed at cutting Maduro’s revenue. There is no certainty that the strategy will work, Venezuela’s military being a crucial power broker that has thrown its weight behind the president. Opposition parties are backing Guaido, who is head of the national assembly, but his bid to take power does not appear to have been thought through and he risks further dividing an already fractured nation. Trump, who instantly recognised him as president after his declaration, has promised military support, a pledge also made by Russia to Maduro. Latin America has decades of negative experience of US interference in its affairs and Guaido, who has been barred from leaving the country and had his assets frozen, does not help his cause by inviting such action. He and Maduro would do better to reach out to one another for dialogue. Other countries should promote such a process rather than inflame tensions.