U.S. Met with Venezuelan Military in Plan to Overthrow Maduro
Members of the U.S. Government met with rebellious officers of the Venezuelan Military in talks to discuss the possibility of a coup several times over the last year. After numerous meetings, officials decided against providing support to these rouge military elements against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. However, the discovery of these clandestine operations has opened up serious concerns within the international community as to the possibility of United States intervention in the foreign affairs of other nations.
First uncovered in a special report by the New York Times on Saturday, the allegations of a meeting between the U.S. and Venezuelan plotters were confirmed by senior members in the Trump Administration. The Times detailed how a senior diplomat made contact with the officers throughout last fall and into early this year until talks fell apart when U.S. officials refused to provide material support, specifically encrypted radios, to the plotters.
The members of the Venezuelan military who contacted the United States were those who had soured with the increasingly violent and repressive tactics of the Maduro Regime. They sought to orchestrate a coup against the highly unpopular President but were thwarted twice, once in March of 2017 and once directly after Maduro’s reelection, which was viewed by many as rigged. Each time their plans were leaked, and the plotters were forced to hold off.
When the Trump Administration consented to meet with the Venezuelan rebels, it was, “purely on listening mode” according to anonymous high ranking officials. The American diplomat had hoped the plotters had created a detailed plan for how the coup was to take place, instead officials discovered that the officers were looking for guidance and had no robust way forward. This lack of concrete strategy to overthrow Maduro appears to be the main reason why the U.S. refused to provide any assistance to the rebels.
The U.S. was also hesitant to work with the Venezuelan military because of its widespread corruption and involvement in the drug trade. Surprisingly, one of the officers that American diplomats were in contact with was apparently on the list of Venezuelan officials sanctioned by the U.S. Congress. The New York Times detailed this as another reason talks fell apart.
It seems as though military intervention, which was threatened by President Donald Trump in a speech last August, was never on the table during the discussion. One of the Venezuelan officers involved in the negotiations was quoted by the times as saying that, “I never agreed, nor did they propose, to do a joint operation.”
Venezuela was enraged by the meetings, with the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, declaring that, “We denounce before the international community the intervention plans and the support of military plots by the United States government.”
In response to the Times report as well as an attempt to calm the nerves of the many Latin American countries who are newly concerned about U.S. interventionism in the area, White House National Security Council Spokesman Garrett Marquis released a statement saying, “U.S. policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged.”
This statement will not likely be enough to make South Americans forget the prolific history of U.S. intervention in the region, from support for the Chilean dictator Pinochet to the Bay of Pigs invasion. For many, it will seem like the U.S. is back to its old tricks again.