U.S. and Venezuelan Officials Meet to Discuss Potential Coup
Throughout the past year, the Trump administration has held multiple secret meetings with Venezuelan rebels weighing whether or not to overthrow controversial President Nicolas Maduro. After the New York Times divulged details about the discussions on Saturday, the Foreign Minister to President Maduro was quick to denounce the United States’s actions.
"Venezuela reiterates its denouncement and condemns the continuing aggressions that the U.S. government has directly promoted against the constitutional President Nicolas Maduro, democratically elected and re-elected by a wide electoral margin in May of this same year," Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter, on Sunday, a day after the New York Times report came out.
A day earlier Arreza also directly addressed the report and slammed the U.S. for meeting with coup plotters against Maduro. “We denounce the intervention plans and support for military conspirators by the government of the United States against Venezuela,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. "Even in U.S. media, the crass evidence is coming to light."
According to Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey, writers of the New York Times Report, accounts of the secret discussions were compiled through interviews with 11 current and former U.S. officials as well as a former Venezuelan official. The Venezuelan official asserts “three distinct groups within the Venezuelan military have been plotting against the Maduro government.”
Further serving as a rift between the U.S. government and the Venezuelan government, Londoño and Casey revealed that the U.S. government designated a career diplomat to attend the conversations, listen and report back.
The Trump administration considered sending in CIA veteran Juan Cruz prior to deciding on the career diplomat.
Establishing discussions for a possible coup in Venezuela does not serve as a huge shock, given the United States history of covert intervention throughout Latin America. As the New York Times states, “Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War.”
The White House which declined to answer questions regarding the talks described in a statement the importance of engaging in “dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy.” In order to “bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro.”
In recent years as Maduro has tightened his grip on Venezuela, he has been increasingly isolated from Latin America. In May 2018 Maduro won his second election, which Vice President Mike Pence declared a “sham.” Following the election, the United States implemented additional sanctions on Venezuela, as well as issuing a joint statement read by the Argentine Foreign Minister at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires stating that “the governments of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the United States, and Mexico, considering the lack of legitimacy of the electoral process of Venezuela, do not recognize the result of yesterday’s election as they were called by an illegitimate body – the National Constituent Assembly – that excluded the participation of politicians and that also did not have the international independent observers nor guarantees so that the process could be considered free, fair, transparent, and democratic.”
Despite the U.S. meetings, Time Magazine reports the Trump administration decided not to support a coup against Maduro.