Venezuela Coup - 2017
Some Chavistas claim that the coup plot against Venezuela had already been written and presented. On March 2, 2017, during the first round of OAS talks, Shannon K. O'Neil (Latin America director of the Council on Foreign Relations, CFR) presented the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee with a portfolio of actions and measures to be taken by the United States if it wanted to remove Chavismo from political power in Venezuela.
Since it was created, the council, which is made up of 4,500 members, has placed a number of senior officials in positions to implement CFR strategy. These include Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell, responsible for the war in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Iraq respectively, and in the case of Powell, said to be a major player in the April 2002 coup.
Corporations born from the dissolution of Standard Oil also finance the CFR, namely Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Among CFR's financiers is Citibank, which in 2016 year blocked the accounts of the Central Bank of Venezuela and the Bank of Venezuela, affecting the country’s ability to import essential goods. The financial corporation JP Morgan is responsible for using financial aggression as an excuse to declare Venezuela in default of payments in November 2016, using manipulative maneuvers to affect Venezuela’s financial credibility.
O'Neil testified that Venezuela was strategic for US interests in the hemisphere, and that a hypothetical collapse in oil production would hurt the US (because it would increase prices), while also affirming — without any proof — that the incursions of the Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels in Venezuela poses a threat to the region.
The CFR proposed three major political actions for the US "to execute a coup in Venezuela in the immediate future". Options that, because of the political and financial weight embodied in CFR, are already in full operation (and running for months).
- CFR proposed to continue sanctions on "human rights violators, narco-traffickers and corrupt officials" to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government. Anti-Chavez leaders, following that script, have backed these actions
- The United States must take a tougher stance within the OAS to implement the Democratic Charter against Venezuela, co-opting countries in the Caribbean and Central America to support this initiative.
- The CFR stated that the United States should work together with Colombia, Brazil, Guyana and Caribbean countries to prepare for a possible "refugee increase," channeling resources to various NGOs and U.N. organizations from the United States Department of Agriculture State.
The evidence presented by President Nicolas Maduro linked leaders of Primero Justicia with financing vandalism against public institutions (the case of the TSJ in Chacao). What, beyond this specific case, reveals the very probable promotion of para-criminal, irregular and mercenary (allied and politically directed) factors to escalate and encourage violence in order to legitimize the position of the State Department.
Maduro accused the United States of working with right-wing leaders towards a coup. "The U.S. government, the State Department has given the green light, the approval for a coup process to intervene in Venezuela," Maduro said 18 April 2017, speaking from the Miraflores Palace. Maduro said that security forces had arrested an “armed commando group sent by the opposition in order to attack the mobilization called by the right-wing ... to generate violence and deaths in the country.” An investigation has been opened to determine who is behind the plan.
According to the Venezuelan leader, who also pointed to a U.S. State Department statement warning of an "international response" should "peaceful protests" face repression, the U.S. government wrote up a coup scenario for opposition leader Julio Borges.
The “scenario” Maduro referred to consists in generating violence and deaths before blaming the Venezuelan government for allegedly violently attacking political opponents. Then the plot leaders would demand immediate elections, ahead of Maduro's official end of term in 2019. “No more coups in Venezuela, no more plots,” said Maduro, adding that he activated a public security plan to maintain order. The Venezuelan leader also called on government supporters to take the streets in the defense of the 18-year Bolivarian Revolution, which has seen an unprecedented internal and external attack in recent months.
Maduro said on 27 June 2017 that a helicopter that was kidnapped hurled "two grenades" at the headquarters of the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in Caracas, in an attempt that he described as "terrorist and coup". A pilot hijacked a helicopter of the judicial police, "raised in arms" against the republic. Maduro expanded the information and said he had activated an air defense plan against the helicopter, which "threw two grenades and one did not explode." According to Maduro, the pilot is linked to former Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, whom he accused of being linked to a plan by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow him.
Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey, writers for the New York Times, published a report 08 September 2018 detailing the exchanges between U.S. officials and Venezuela coup plotters. According to their account of the “secret” meetings were compiled from interviews with 11 “current and former” U.S. officials and a former Venezuelan commander, speaking under condition of anonymity.
Through the interviews, the writers were able to gather that conversations began after Trump declared in August 2017 that the U.S. had a “military option” for Venezuela, which “encouraged rebellious Venezuelan military officers to reach out to Washington.”
During the first meetings, one of the attendees allegedly told U.S. officials they could convince small groups within the Venezuelan military to plot against the Maduro government.
Aside from confirming what the Venezuelan government has repeatedly warned against, namely the active plotting against the Maduro government by “political opposition” and U.S. participation, Londoño and Casey also revealed the U.S. designated a career diplomat to attend the conversations, listen and report on them.
A senior U.S. administration official who also spoke to the reporters under the condition of anonymity said the Trump administration had considered dispatching a veteran Central Intelligence Agency official, Juan Cruz, but later decided “it would be more prudent to send a career diplomat instead.”
The NYTimes article claims that “in the fall of 2017, the diplomat reported that the Venezuelans didn’t appear to have a detailed plan and had shown up at the encounter hoping the Americans would offer guidance or ideas.”
However, the officers had explicitly “asked the U.S. to supply them with encrypted radios, citing the need to communicate securely, as they developed a plan to install a transitional government to run the country until elections could be held.” Londoño and Casey report U.S. officials did not provide material support, and “the plans unraveled after a recent crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of the plotters.”
Venezuela's foreign minister reiterated his condemnation of the United States for seeking an intervention and supporting military conspiracies, following a report that members of the United States government had been meeting with Venezuelan military officers who were actively plotting to oust democratically elected president Nicolas Maduro since mid-2017.
"Venezuela reiterates its denouncement and condemns the continuing aggressions that the U.S. government has directly promoted against the constitutional President @NicolasMaduro, democratically elected and re-elected by a wide electoral margin in May of this same year," Jorge Arreaza wrote on Twitter 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."
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|