A few days ago, I wrote an article for The New Republic saying that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro would likely not be toppled by a U.S.-sponsored and initiated coup. Unfortunately, I now believe, based on new information, that the Trump administration could be in the final stages of launching a military operation to overthrow Maduro, with help from the right-wing Colombian government of Iván Duque.
In The New Republic I wrote that President Trump had been ratcheting up pressure on the Maduro government and stirring up popular discontent by trying to literally starve the population with sanctions. The only thing that has prevented famine is that the Maduro government distributes a monthly food basket to poor Venezuelans, as I saw during a trip to Caracas earlier this month.
Last fall, Trump’s administration “held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela to discuss their plans to overthrow President Maduro,” the New York Times reported. And back in 2017, I was told by a former senior Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official in Panama that the Pentagon was feverishly trying to persuade Venezuelan officers to stage a coup.
In these ignorant and illegal actions, Trump is clearly being led by the nose of the Troika of Terror: Florida Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, and the Trump administration’s special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams. In recent weeks, both Rubio and the right-wing Miami Herald have been predicting Maduro’s impending demise. The increasingly erratic Rubio has been desperately flailing around trying to trigger a conflagration, even tweeting a bloody image of former Libya ruler Muammar Gaddafi as he demands Maduro step down.
However, I thought Maduro — who I have serious problems with but who is far preferable to the Trump administration’s brothel whore and self-proclaimed Venezuelan president Juan Guaidó — would survive. Why? First, because he is not necessarily popular but he is more popular than Guaidó and the U.S.-backed opposition, the rancid old oligarchy, who are far more corrupt and dictatorial than Maduro could ever dream of being.
Second, Venezuelans are tired and believe, understandably, that the United States will continue to starve the country—and them—until Maduro is gone. But very few want to go back to 1992, when the old order, then under President Carlos Andres Perez, slaughtered hundreds or thousands of protestors and buried many in unmarked mass graves. (President Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s beloved predecessor, was not perfect, but most citizens still admire him and are grateful for all he did for the poor.)
Still, some poorer Venezuelans do want Maduro out but the leaders of the treasonous campaign against him are members of the wealthy old oligarchy. Fittingly, one of the main opposition gathering points is George Washington Plaza, a rich neighborhood sandwiched between the barrios of El Paraiso and La Vega.
Another reason I believed a coup wouldn’t happen is that the U.S. has not been able to put together a bogus coalition to mount an invasion, as it did in Iraq in 2003. Both the Brazilian and Colombian governments have publicly declared they will not participate in an armed foray into Venezuela.
Nor have the Trump administration’s overtures to the Venezuelan military been effective. Thus far, the inner circle around the president appears to be holding tight. And why would they defect to the Yankees? It’s a huge risk, given that if the coup fails you’re likely to be arrested; a house in Miami or an offshore Delaware bank account won’t do you a lot of good in a prison cell.
And Maduro keeps a close eye on the military. Or more specifically, Diosdado Cabello keeps a close eye on the military, and everything else in Venezuela. Cabello is the most powerful person in Venezuela and the power behind Maduro’s throne.
However, since I wrote The New Republic article there have been ominous signs pointing to direct military action by the United States to overthrow Maduro. Just weeks ago, the Trump administration announced it would recall all of its diplomats from Caracas. Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would withdraw all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas, citing the “deteriorating situation in Venezuela.”
Even more ominously, the CIA is clearly behind the recent power outages that have put most of Venezuela in the dark and caused untold misery, countless deaths and fomented further chaos.
This is all reminiscent of previous CIA-sponsored regime change operations. There is a striking parallel to what happened just prior to the Clinton administration’s and NATO’s actions in the Balkans during the 1990, when bombing runs were preceded by the evacuation of U.S. and NATO country nationals.
That all culminated in the removal of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević. Here’s how Wikipedia describes what happened:
In the midst of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Milošević was charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) with war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo. Milošević resigned from the Yugoslav presidency amid demonstrations, following the disputed presidential election of 24 September 2000. He was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities on 31 March 2001 on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement.
The initial investigation into Milošević faltered for lack of evidence, prompting the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić to extradite him to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to stand trial for charges of war crimes instead. At the outset of the trial, Milošević denounced the Tribunal as illegal because it had not been established with the consent of the United Nations General Assembly; therefore he refused to appoint counsel for his defense.
Milošević conducted his own defense in the five-year-long trial, which ended without a verdict when he died in his prison cell in The Hague on 11 March 2006. Milošević, who suffered from heart ailments and hypertension, died of a heart attack. The Tribunal denied any responsibility for Milošević’s death and stated that he had refused to take prescribed medicines and medicated himself instead.
Getting back to Venezuela, Brazil is led by a fascist, Jair Bolsonaro, but its the most powerful country in South America and its military will not be led by the nose by Trump. However, Colombia is a full-fledged U.S. puppet (and death squad democracy). It’s not clear if its military will participate in a military attack on Venezuela — as multiple well-placed sources have now told me is pending — but Duque’s regime has allowed the U.S. to use its border with Venezuela as a staging ground for continued attacks on Maduro’s government and what the complicit U.S. press has described as the delivery of “humanitarian” aid to Venezuela.
For all these reasons, I fear that a U.S. invasion could take place shortly. And there’s another reason: I know from multiple sources that U.S. hedge funds hired a prominent D.C. lobby shop to directly promote regime change by trying to find Venezuelan military officers to betray their country and support a coup against President Maduro. The reason is simple. These hedge funds hold billions of dollars in Venezuelan government and state oil company bonds and the only way they can get them paid is to kick Maduro out and replace him with a pro-U.S. regime that will pay off the hedge funds and other financial firms that hold the bonds.
I hope I’m wrong and that Maduro survives. But if he is overthrown I will reveal the name of the hedge funds, the D.C. lobbying firm, the former U.S. government officials who work at the lobbying firm and are promoting an illegal regime change, and the names of many other public and private sector individuals who are involved in these crimes.
For now, they are mere crimes. If an invasion happens, they will be war crimes.