Trump’s Coup In Venezuela: What You’re Not Being Told

Sunday, March 17, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Jorge Martin via,
Sat, 03/16/2019

Washington is growing increasingly desperate as its coup efforts go further south in Venezuela…

The failure of the February 23 “humanitarian aid” provocation on the Venezuelan border was a serious blow for Trump’s ongoing coup attempt. There were mutual recriminations between self-appointed Guaidó, Colombian President Duque and US Vice-President Pence. The US could not get a consensus from its own Lima Cartel allies in favour of military intervention.

The coup was losing momentum. Then, on March 7, just days after Guaidó’s anti-climactic return to Caracas, the country was plunged into a nationwide blackout from which it has not yet fully recovered. What caused it? How is it related to the “regime change” attempt? And, most importantly, what are imperialism’s plans and how can they be fought?

February 23 was supposed to be the coup’s D-Day. The idea was never to actually deliver “humanitarian aid” into the country, but rather to create a “people’s power” moment, where large crowds of opposition supporters on both sides of the border defied the Venezuelan armed forces, which, when faced with a large crowd of peaceful demonstrators, would then switch sides and join Trump’s puppet, Juan Guaidó. On the day, however, things did not go according to Washington’s plan. The crowds of opposition supporters did not materialise in the expected numbers. “Aid” trucks did not cross the border and by the end of the day, Rubio, Abrams and Guaidó were left with egg all over their faces.

They made a big story about “Maduro burning the aid trucks” at the Santander bridge on the Colombian border. US officials even insisted this justified military intervention under the Geneva Convention. Never mind the fact that the Convention only applies in cases of war, the fact is that the aid truck that was burned was set on fire by a “peaceful” opposition supporter throwing a molotov cocktail at the Venezuelan border guards. Several media outlets (teleSUR, RT) explained that this was the case right from the beginning and even produced video footage to prove it. That did not stop US officials like Marco Rubio and John Bolton from blaming Maduro and the chorus of the world’s bourgeois mass media from parroting the lie:

Now, two weeks too late, even the New York Times has been forced to admit that “one [Venezuelan government] claim that appears to be backed up by video footage is that the protesters started the fire.” The same NY Timesinvestigation also concludes that the Venezuelan government was right in saying the US and the opposition were lying about the trucks containing medicine: “the claim about a shipment of medicine, too, appears to be unsubstantiated, according to videos and interviews.”

The admission by the NY Times, though it is unlikely to be covered as widely as the initial false reports, is very significant. We knew the US was lying, right from the beginning, as there was proof. Now it has been forced to admit it. This should provide a salutary lesson for the next time the US or its Venezuelan opposition make any outrageous claims about the “Maduro regime.” The lesson is: “question everything Washington and the mass media tell you about a government they want to overthrow.”

That evening, as if on cue, the Venezuelan opposition social media operation started to explode with the hashtag #IntervencionMilitarYA (#MilitaryInterventionNOW), aimed at putting pressure on the US and its allies to launch a military intervention in the country. The campaign is very revealing as to the character of the opposition (pro-imperialist and traitors to their own country), but also as to the morale of their ranks (they do not think they are the agents of “change” but rather invest all their hopes in Trump).

Having been defeated on February 23, the meeting of the Lima Group of countries in Bogotá the following morning was a further setback. Let us remember that the Lima Group (more accurately known as the “Lima Cartel”) is an ad-hoc group of countries created with the explicit aim of overthrowing the Venezuelan government when the US could not get enough votes at the Organisation of American States for its bellicose resolutions. Before the meeting even started, there were public statements by Chile, Brazil and Paraguay explicitly ruling out military intervention.

The case of Brazil is noteworthy because there is a major split within Bolsonaro’s cabinet, and between him and the Armed Forces. Under pressure from the generals and his own vice-president, General Hamilton Mourão, the far-right president has been forced to retreat from several of his public statements, specifically, support for the transfer of the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem and granting the US army access to a military base in Brazil. When the Lima Group decided in January to cut off all contact with the Venezuelan armed forces, the Brazilians kept communication lines open. The Brazilian army went as far as vetoing the presence of US soldiers in the border with Venezuela as part of the so-called “humanitarian aid” operation on 23 February.

Contrary to the attitude of the Colombian state, which turned a blind eye and even helped the opposition rioters on the border with Venezuela, the Brazilians contained them and prevented clashes. The reason is not that the Brazilian generals are in any way progressive, nor that they stand by the principle of sovereignty, but rather they understand that any major conflict in Venezuela, including the possibility of a civil war, could have a major impact on Brazil, with which it shares a large and inhospitable border. The last thing the Brazilian generals want is accidentally getting sucked into a major armed conflict in Venezuela, which they know would not be a simple affair.

Faced with such reluctance, the Bogotá meeting on 25 February ended with a statement that used strong words of condemnation and issued unspecified threats, but did not contain any serious commitment to the next steps in the “regime change” operation. The US announced the inclusion of a few more Venezuelan officials on their sanctions list, including four regional governors. Hardly the “military intervention now” that the opposition demanded.

Media reports have talked of recriminations from Mike Pence (who had cut off his trip to South Korea to attend the meeting) to Guaidó. According to one report, Pence told Guaidó that “everything was failing in the offensive against the chavista regime, the biggest complaint was because of the continued loyalty of the armed forces to Maduro.” Apparently, Guaidó had promised the US that if they were to get “the main world leaders to recognise him… at least half of the high ranking officers would defect. It didn’t happen.” The other main criticism was regarding the Venezuelan opposition’s appraisal that Maduro’s “social base had disintegrated. The crisis revealed that support for the government has in fact diminished, but is not inexistent”.

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