Venezuela has a recent history replete with cases of failed opposition uprisings, rebellions, and coup attempts. US involvement is usually alleged, often with evidence, but rarely confirmed. This week, however, the US was quick to put its stamp on the coup attempt, and seemed highly confident that it would be a great success.
Once it failed, it was a bit too late for the administration to deny involvement. Days later, information continues to emerge on what happened, why the US was so confident, and how ultimately the assured victory they thought they had didn’t pan out.
Much of the coup, after all, is in the planning stages. The US spent weeks getting what thought was sufficient support on their side to force Maduro from power. This network of support was built by US diplomats and, in part, opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez.
Mike Pompeo and others have claimed the US got together a deal with the Supreme Court chief justice, the defense minister, and the head of the presidential guard. Lopez, despite the considerable disadvantage of being under house arrest, said he met with a number of generals.
All told, everyone seemed to think this would be enough. The plan was for the chief justice to rule Maduro’s inauguration invalid, giving Guaido pretext to name himself interim president. Then the defense ministry and generals would just fall into line.
Instead, almost none of the pieces fell into place, leaving the US just confidently predicting victory for a Guaido side, and then trying to blame Cuba, Russia, and everyone else when it didn’t go to plan.
The end result has Maduro still in power, Lopez managing to get from house arrest into the Spanish Embassy, and the Trump Administration with egg all over its face. Individual officials are scrambling for excuses, Pompeo claiming Russia talked Maduro off the tarmac at the airport, while John Bolton came up with allegations of 25,000 Cuban troops being present.
This embarrassing state of affairs is fueling a new round of threats for the US to invade outright and impose Guaido’s rulership. Large turnout at the pro-Maduro May Day rally, however, are raising questions about everything the US is claiming, particularly the unity behind Guaido.
Some officials are still suggesting there might be some other way to oust Maduro, and Elliott Abrams is even claiming a secret document exists that was supposed to guarantee that the coup would work. Since it didn’t, however, the value of the document seems questionable.