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Venezuela - 2019 Coup

Donald Trump told reporters on 11 August 2017 he was considering military action against Venezuela in response to its government tearing down democratic institutions. "We have troops all over the world in places that are very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they're dying," he said. "We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary," Trump told reporters. Trump explained that he was "not going to rule out" a military option, adding that it was "certainly something that we could pursue."

Donald Trump had long been obsessed with the idea of seizing Iraq’s oil as some kind of reimbursement for the money the U.S. had spent waging war in the Middle East. “I still can’t believe we left Iraq without the oil,” he tweeted in 2013. “It used to be, ‘To the victor belong the spoils,’” he told Matt Lauer during a campaign forum in 2016. “Now, there was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: take the oil.” On Jan 26, 2017 Donald Trump said there would be no ISIS had the US kept Iraq's oil, following the US invasion into the country.

Russia’s Ambassador in Caracas Vladimir Zaemskiy on 26 December 2018 accused unnamed countries of plotting to overthrow the Venezuelan government. "An invasion cannot be ruled out, especially as some aggressive powers plan to overthrow the current government but cannot achieve this through sanctions alone".

Meet Juan Guaido

The United States and its right-wing allies in Latin America have come out in support of a parliamentary right-wing coup against the Venezuelan government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro after they supported a decision by opposition lawmaker, named Juan Guaido, to declare himself an “interim president” of Venezuela on Jan. 23 in violation of the country’s constitution.

Washington, Canada and members of the so-called Lima Group, which include Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, and others were quick to recognize Guaido as “interim president” with the government of Donald Trump and his advisors urging the country’s military to step in and rebel against Maduro. The military has repeatedly stated its full support for the Maduro government and rejected such calls as interventionist and a breach of the sovereignty of Venezuela.

In return, Maduro has repeatedly called for the restoration of talks between his government and the opposition in order to maintain peace and avoid a U.S.-backed coup, or even military intervention by the United States in favor of removing him and placing an unelected right-wing government.

Guiado and his allies Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his National Security advisor have so far responded to such calls by escalation and rejection of any dialogue. They continue to call for the military to intervene, while sources in the United States have revealed that Trump is “seriously considering” military intervention into Venezuela if Maduro does not step down.

To further the pressure, the United States imposed harsh economic sanction on the Venezuelan oil industry and its national oil company, while also blocking the bank accounts of the Venezuelan state in the United States, vowing to only remove such restrictions when Guiado achieves control of the state institutions.

David Smolansky became Venezuela’s youngest-ever mayor when he was elected in 2013 in the affluent suburb of El Hatillo. Facing arrest, Smolansky shaved his beard, donned sunglasses and slipped into Brazil disguised as a priest with a bible in hand and rosary around his neck. He now lives in Washington, DC, where he was handpicked by Secretary of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro to lead the working group on the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis.

On 26 July 2019, Smolansky held what he called a “cordial reunion” with Elliot Abrams, the convicted Iran-Contra felon installed by Trump as special US envoy to Venezuela. Abrams is notorious for overseeing the US covert policy of arming right-wing death squads during the 1980’s in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

As the Reagan administration’s assistant secretary of state for human rights in the 1980s, Abrams supported the US-backed dictators in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in their campaigns of repression, including death squads. He was also involved in working with Iran to arming the US-backed rebels in Nicaragua, the infamous Iran-Contra scandal. Abrams organized the illegal, covert financing of Contra rebels in Nicaragua behind the back of Congress, which had cut off funding. Abrams lied to Congress twice about his role with the Contras. Abrams did all this while casting aspersions on the motives of journalists and human rights workers who sought to tell the truth about these crimes. He pleaded guilty to both counts in 1991 but was pardoned right away by President George H.W. Bush. In the 1990s, Abrams became a founding member of the Project for a New American Century, a hawkish neoconservative think-tank.

Abrams returned to the corridors of power in 2001, as a director on the National Security Council for President George W. Bush. He played a key role in the 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela against President Hugo Chavez. Abrams enjoyed advance knowledge of, and “gave a nod to,” the (briefly successful) military coup. He was one of the architects of the 2003 Iraq war.

In February 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner wanted to bring Abrams back to the State Department as deputy secretary, but Trump reportedly vetoed the proposal after reading what Abrams wrote about him during the 2016 presidential campaign, as part of the NeverTrump conservative camp.

Former U.S. diplomat Elliott Abrams, one of the masterminds behind the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, was appointed to lead the U.S. interference in Venezuela, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 25 January 2019.

On Jan. 8, 2018, the National Assembly paved the way for the coup by authorizing the creation of a trust fund to reclaim the assets of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the head of the Venezuelan opposition-led National Assembly, said he intended to use the support of the military and the international community to take over presidential power.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met personally with Guaidó on January 10, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, Pompeo could not pronounce Guaidó’s name when he mentioned him in a press briefing on January 25, referring to him as “Juan Guido.”

On 11 January 2019 Guaido said he was ready to assume presidency on an interim basis, claiming that the Venezuelan constitution allowed him to call a snap election. Meanwhile, Luis Almagro, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), welcomed Guaido taking over presidential powers, like it was a fait accompli, and expressed his support to the opposition figure.

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