Venezuela crisis: Maduro claims victory over ‘deranged’ coup attempt

Venezuela crisis: Maduro claims victory over ‘deranged’ coup attempt

President blames Trump imperialists and ‘coup-mongering far right’ as rival Juan Guaidó calls for more protests

 National Guard armoured vehicle drives into protesters in Venezuela – video

Nicolás Maduro claimed his troops have thwarted a botched attempt to topple him masterminded by Venezuela’s “coup-mongering far right” and Donald Trump’s deranged imperialist “gang”.

In an hour-long address to the nation on Tuesday night – his first since the pre-dawn uprising began – Maduro accused opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his political mentor Leopoldo López of seeking to spark an armed confrontation that might be used as a pretext for a foreign military intervention.               

However, “loyal and obedient” members of Venezuela’s Bolivarian armed forces had put down the mutiny within hours of it starting shortly after 4am, Maduro claimed, in direct contradiction to Guaidó’s earlier remark that the president no longer had military backing.

“They failed in their plan. They failed in their call, because the people of Venezuela want peace,” Maduro said, surrounded by Venezuela’s military and political elite. “We will continue to emerge victorious … in the months and years ahead. I have no doubt about it.”

Maduro said the plotters would “not go unpunished” and said they would face criminal prosecutions “for the serious crimes that have been committed against the constitution, the rule of law and the right to peace”.

Those claims were contradicted by Guaidó, the young opposition leader who has been battling to unseat Maduro since January. In a video message of his own – recorded at an unknown location – Guaidó claimed Maduro no longer enjoyed the backing or the respect of Venezuela’s armed forces.

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores palace next to defence minister Vladimir Padrino in Caracas, on Tuesday.
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 Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores palace next to defence minister Vladimir Padrino in Caracas, on Tuesday. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

Guaidó claimed “a peaceful rebellion”, not an attempted military coup, was under way and urged supporters to return to the streets on Wednesday to continue what he called the final stage of “Operation Freedom”. He said Venezuelans now had the opportunity “to conquer their future”.

Maduro called Tuesday’s “coup-mongering adventure” part of a US-backed plot to destroy the Bolivarian revolution he inherited after Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013.

“I truly believe … that the United States of America has never had a government as deranged as this one,” he said, calling Guaidó and his team “useful idiots” of the empire.

He also scotched claims from the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, that he had been preparing to flee Venezuela for Cuba on Tuesday morning, until he was told to stay put by his Russian backers.

“Señor Pompeo, please,” Maduro said.

In a day when the struggle for power on the streets appeared to hang in the balance, Donald Trump made no mention of Russia when he tweeted on Tuesday evening, threatening Cuba.

“If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!”

The Trump administration put its full backing behind Guaidó after he appeared in a dramatic morning video surrounded by soldiers the “final phase” of the bid to oust Maduro.

Trump and key US officials tweeted their support for Guaidó, while the national security adviser, John Bolton, appeared in the grounds of the White House to declare that the situation had reached a critical moment.

Bolton named three senior officials who he said had been negotiating with the opposition and accepted that the president had to be replaced.

Bolton called on defence minister Vladimir Padrino, head of the supreme court, Maikel Moreno and the commander of the presidential guard, Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala to fulfill their “commitments” to defect.

He listed the names three times, in a gambit apparently designed to force their hand but the Venezuelan foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, replied: “Dream on [John Bolton] … Not today!”

According to a source close to Venezuela’s opposition, Guaidó did not receive US planning support or resources for his move on Tuesday, which came after months of contacts with military officials, the source said.

But the opposition has nurtured links with Washington since well before Guaidó took the political center-stage in January – and such efforts took on a new impulse after Trump took office.

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Comments

  • Trevor  On 05/02/2019 at 12:07 pm

    Amerikkka seems to be in a rush to topple over Venezuela, just in time for its neighbour, our Guyana, to be producing oil at a fast track.

    I can’t get house lot until now, but ExxonMobilTM could get oil drilling licenses faster than Erup can seh “click mi finga gyal yuh waanna roll wid me”…

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/12/2019 at 10:22 pm

    The Defection That Turned into Exile

    Tamara Taraciuk Broner | Caracas Chronicles

    Colombian authorities say that more than 1,400 members of Venezuela’s security forces have arrived in their country, fleeing Venezuela. Most arrived on, or since February 23rd, the day that Juan Guaidó, National Assembly president challenging Nicolás Maduro, said he would deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela. He called on the military to “put themselves on the side of the Constitution” and rebel against the Maduro government.

    I’ve been talking with these former officers, and they have offered a glimpse into life inside Venezuela’s security apparatus.

    First, their superiors issued explicit orders to repress anti-government demonstrations, or ordered them to “be tough, without pity or compassion” toward those trying to bring humanitarian aid into Venezuela.

    Two of them said that their superiors were involved in drug trafficking or had helped stall investigations into such crimes, allegations consistent with ongoing investigations abroad and research by independent groups.

    Several officers reported that their families in Venezuela are being harassed after they fled and that armed pro-government thugs, colectivos, marked some of their homes by drawing a circle with a line through it on the wall, as though canceling them. One said that a family member of his had been detained. More than 670 of the deserters’ family members have joined them in Colombia, according to official sources.

    During our interview in a hot, windowless office in the border town of Cucuta, in Northern Colombia, a former sergeant in the Bolivarian National Guard told me that fear of being labeled a traitor had kept him in line, but he got sick of “not being able to say anything” about the corruption and cruelty of the Maduro government. It was the so-called “Delay Operation” that the National Guard began on February 22nd — to keep humanitarian assistance out of Venezuela — that finally prompted him to flee.

    The 15 people we interviewed said that when they lived in barracks, in Venezuela, they went for several months without three full meals a day. Like many Venezuelans during the crisis, they said, they lost a lot of weight. All of them said the money they earned wasn’t enough to buy food and other necessities for their families.

    But they also said that life after they defected hasn’t been what they had hoped for. In fact, this exodus highlights the complexity of Venezuela’s protracted crisis.

    For the first time in over two years that I’ve spent interviewing fleeing Venezuelans in Latin America, I have heard several of these men and women say they were better off in Venezuela than in Colombia.

    This is noteworthy, even though, in Colombia, they probably had greater access to food and services than the average Venezuelan, now suffering a devastating humanitarian emergency.

    Most have sought refugee status in Colombia. However, international standards allow members of the military to be considered asylum seekers only when they have “genuinely and permanently renounced military activities” as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) only considers refugee claims from civilians.

    So these men and women seeking asylum need to sign a document saying they had given up arms, but some have publicly declared that they would take up arms to “overthrow Maduro,” posing a quandary for Colombian authorities and the UN refugee agency. In addition, some of the former soldiers may be implicated in abuses, which could disqualify them for refugee status.

    But many have a well-founded fear of persecution if they are returned to Venezuela. On February 27th, an executive decree expelled 116 people from the Armed Forces — including several of those I interviewed — and accused them of treason.

    If they return, they’ll most likely be arrested and prosecuted for treason. In a country where the judiciary lacks even a semblance of independence, there would be no credible guarantees of due process and they would risk torture.

    Meanwhile, the former security force members are trying to rebuild their lives in a border city where Venezuelans arrive by the thousands. Hundreds of these former officers are housed in seven hotels in Cucuta, where they receive three meals a day, but the continuity of such aid is uncertain. They also receive support, personal items, and care from a medical doctor who is part of a network of Venezuelan volunteers called Movement of Those Born on the Pavement.

    Another 40 officers live in a church shelter, which was designed to accommodate just 10, so some sleep on mattresses on the floor.

    Although Colombian authorities told us that these former security forces members have permission to work, none of those we interviewed were aware that they could, and all said prospective employers routinely tell them that they cannot hire them with their papers saying they’re seeking asylum.

    Some are working illegally. Most spend their days watching time go by and worrying about how long the aid they receive will last. The Colombian government should carefully evaluate individual cases of former soldiers who have renounced military activity and ensure that Colombian employers know it’s legal for these women and men to work, issuing them an ID that explicitly says so, if necessary.

    In reality, their situation is not unlike the life of asylum-seekers in other parts of the world who struggle to rebuild their lives away from home, but it is certainly different from what many of them expected when they were welcomed as heroes, after crossing the border.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/12/2019 at 10:34 pm

    The author wrote:

    “The 15 people we interviewed said that when they lived in barracks, in Venezuela, they went for several months without three full meals a day. Like many Venezuelans during the crisis, they said, they lost a lot of weight. All of them said the money they earned wasn’t enough to buy food and other necessities for their families.

    But they also said that life after they defected hasn’t been what they had hoped for. In fact, this exodus highlights the complexity of Venezuela’s protracted crisis.

    For the first time in over two years that I’ve spent interviewing fleeing Venezuelans in Latin America, I have heard several of these men and women say they were better off in Venezuela than in Colombia.

    This is noteworthy, even though, in Colombia, they probably have greater access to food and services than the average Venezuelan, now suffering a devastating humanitarian emergency. ….

    In reality, their situation is not unlike the life of asylum-seekers in other parts of the world who struggle to rebuild their lives away from home, but it is certainly different from what many of them expected when they were welcomed as heroes, after crossing the border.”

    In my opinion, the word EXPECTATION or Unmet EXPECTATION comes to mind.

    In the foregoing analysis, the tragedy as I see it, is Venezuelans only crossed the border to a neighbouring country. It is not as if they migrated to another continent.

    The mind is playing tricks with one’s self-esteem.

    They are in the same time zone and weather conditions and everything changed – suddenly: The stigma sticks like tar – I am just trying to imagine what it feels like to be labelled “undocumented” or “asylum-seeker” or “refugee” or “illegal migrant” …..

    One day you are a Sergeant in the Bolivarian National Guard or a Manager ….

    The next day, you are rebuilding your life away from home or call it a TRAGEDY

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