Venezuela Coup Attempt Underway
Breaking News out of Latin America
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets with activist Leopoldo Lopez and a small contingent of heavily armed troops early Tuesday in a bold and risky call for the military to rise up and oust socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.
“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” said Lopez, who had been detained since 2014 for leading anti-government protests.
“Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”
Lopez said he has been freed from house arrest by members of the security forces responding to an order by Guaidó, whom the U.S. and dozens of other governments recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
As he spoke on a highway overpass, troops loyal to Maduro sporadically fired tear gas from inside the adjacent Carlota air base as the crowd of a few hundred civilians, some of them brandishing Venezuelan flags, scurried for cover.
The crowd swelled to a few thousand as people sensed what could be their strongest opportunity yet to overthrow the government after months of turmoil that has seen Maduro withstand an onslaught of protests and international pressure with the support of his top military command and allies such as Russia and Cuba.
“It’s now or never,” said one of the young rebellious soldiers, his face covered in the blue bandanna preferred by the few dozen soldiers who stood alongside Guaidó and Lopez.
The dramatic events playing out in the opposition’s stronghold in wealthier eastern Caracas appeared not to have triggered a broader military revolt.
Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino on Twitter rejected what he called an attempt by a “subversive movement” to generate “panic and terror.” Meanwhile, socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello said most of Caracas was calm and called on government supporters to amass at the presidential palace to defend Maduro from what he said was a U.S.-backed coup attempt.—“Venezuela’s Guaido takes to streets in military uprising“
It’s too early to assess the prospects of success or the wider implications. We’ll certainly keep an eye on the story.
Update (Doug Mataconis): National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted this earlier this morning:
As I have said in the past, the worst thing for any effort to remove Maduro by force would be if it seemed as if it were being engineered by the United States. That’s exactly what Bolton’s tweet does, in my opinion. Expect Maduro to cite this as well as recent comments by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in support of his likely argument that the coup attempt is an American plot.
Update #2 (Doug Mataconis): Further updates and commentary about the manner in which the Administration, Congressional Republicans, and some Congressional Democrats are responding to all of this
So far the military has remained loyal to Maduro except for a few rebellious units. If that holds up this time then things could fall apart quickly just as they have in the past.
Without most of the military on the side of a coup, the best one can expect is civil war.
Inevitably I wonder how much the US is responsible for the coup or the timing. Lots f people in the region will wonder as well.
Also, oil may go up.
US probably behind this…any excuse to grab our…err Venezuela’s oil.
See my update. The Trump Administration appears to be playing into Maduro’s hands.
Remember the fable of the turtle and the scorpion? Why does the Trump administration act so incompetently? “It’s my nature.”
But all the mockery of Trump, well-deserved though it be, won’t help the people of Venezuela. So I hope they have a majority of the army with them, otherwise they’ve just secured Maduro’s rule for many years.
Yup. Venezuelan newspapers are far less optimistic about the coup than English media is.
@Kathy: it’s been a long time since I read this so it would take me an hour to find the source, but I remember some economist saying that it was basically an accepted fact now that 18 months after any kind of oil shock there is a recession.
This is weird, I’m not seeing anything on Twitter about this. I’m sure it’s trending, I can see it’s trending on Google, but I follow a lot of political journalists, and nobody’s talking about this. that’s unusual, usually they’re talking about it a few hours before a big story breaks.
Related take/tweet by Organization of American States:
OAS ✔ @OAS_official – @Almagro_OEA2015: We welcome the adhesion of military of #Venezuela to the Constitution and to Interim President @jguaido. It’s necessary the fullest support for the democratic transition in a peaceful manner. #OEAconVzla
Today OAS is having a special meeting on “The role of external actors in Venezuela” – presenters are mostly from Columbia
“Supporters of Maduro attended the demonstration in the Venezuelan capital to denounce the 35-member OAS, whose council voted this month to recognize an envoy selected by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. A minority of countries voted against the resolution.” (18 votes yes, 6 abstentions, “9 votes against (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Grenada, Mexico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela)”
I’m honestly surprised that this hasn’t already erupted into massive violence and a civil war, or with Maduro just having Guaidó killed.
I’d say I’m hopeful, but I’m really not. But maybe they will continue to surprise me.
A really great twitter thread on how poorly executed this coup* is:
* – Of course John Bolton doesn’t think this is a coup because the US supports Guaido.