[News] Venezuela: Guaidó’s Botched Coup – What Does it Mean and What's Next?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 2 11:35:14 EDT 2019


  Venezuela: Guaidó’s Botched Coup – What Does it Mean and What's Next?

By Jorge Martin - May 2, 2019

Just before dawn on 30 April, the Venezuelan opposition launched yet 
another attempt at a military coup. By the end of the day, the botched 
coup attempt seemed to have failed, with one of its leaders seeking 
refuge in the Spanish embassy, 25 of the soldiers involved requesting 
asylum at the Brazilian embassy and Juan Guaidó in hiding or on the run.

The coup started at 5.46 am with a video message by Guaidó, who 
proclaimed himself president in charge on 24 January at a street rally, 
but who has not moved an inch closer to Miraflores Palace since. In the 
video, he appeared outside La Carlota military airbase in the east of 
Caracas, together with a small group of army soldiers. Also present was 
Leopoldo López, the opposition leader under house arrest for his role in 
the deadly /guarimba/ riots of 2014. Apparently, he had been released by 
the SEBIN intelligence officers in charge of guarding him.

Guaidó’s message was clear: “I am with the main military units of our 
Armed Forces starting the final phase of ‘Operation Freedom’”. This was 
the final battle against ‘usurpation’. The presence of López was a 
powerful prop. However, as was to become clear in the following hours, 
his claims to have the support of the “main military units” was a lie. 
He did not have control of any military units or bases, no commanding 
officers were on his side. In fact, despite claims to the contrary he 
was not inside La Carlota base, but outside. He had not taken control of 
any TV or radio stations.

Guaidó called on the people to come out on the streets nationally. Some 
joined him in the east of Caracas and clashed with the National Guard 
protecting the air base. At one point, the hundreds of rioters, which 
included a few soldiers, managed to breach the outside perimeter, but 
were repelled with tear gas volleys. Not what you would expect from a 
‘proper’ military coup.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Caracas, thousands had gathered outside 
the Miraflores Palace after an appeal made by Maduro on Twitter just 
after 10am, where he also said that he had contacted the chiefs of all 
military units and that they were all loyal to his government. A few 
high-ranking Bolivarian officials spoke, particularly Diosdado Cabello, 
but other than that the stage was given to representatives of the 
chavista left and rank-and-file organisations, which never feature in 
the official demonstrations. The mood was one of determination, there 
was a spirit of resistance.

    Imperialist support

Of course, the US rushed to support the coup in Venezuela with tweets 
and statements by Trump, Pompeo, Elliot Abrams, Marco Rubio et al. They 
were followed by the presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Chile and even the 
European Parliament. Organisation of American States secretary general, 
Almagro also joined the chorus.

During the day, Pompeo and Bolton made all sorts of statements and 
insinuations in an attempt to bolster Guaidó’s effort. Pompeo hinted 
that high-ranking officials in Venezuela had agreed in talks with the US 
to remove Maduro. Bolton specifically mentioned Defence Minister 
Vladimir Padrino, military counter-intelligence (DGCIM) and Presidential 
Guard chief Ivan Hernandez, and Supreme Court of Justice Maikel Moreno. 
"Key figures in the regime” had been “talking to the opposition over 
these last three months”, he said and appealed to them to “make good on 
their commitments to achieve the peaceful transfer of power from the 
Maduro clique.” Later on, Bolton declared that Maduro had had a plane 
ready to leave for Cuba but had been dissuaded by the Russians. Despite 
all this boasting and psychological pressure, Padrino came out in a 
televised address expressing, once again, his loyalty to the government.

Things on the ground in Venezuela were not going well. Some of Guaidó’s 
soldiers took the first opportunity to defect, claiming they had been 
tricked. One of them explained how officers had given them weapons at 
the Helicoide, the SEBIN headquarters, and told they were going to put 
down a mass jailbreak.

After being repelled at La Carlota, and when it became clear that the 
coup was fizzling out, Guaidó still tried another trick. He led a few 
thousand of his supporters, including some of the soldiers he had in his 
video in the morning, westwards towards Miraflores Palace. This was an 
attempt to repeat the script of the 2002 coup, when the opposition 
leaders marched their supporters to the presidential palace, where they 
would be attacked by snipers hired to create a justification for a 
military coup. As Marx once said, history repeats itself, first as a 
tragedy and then as a farce.

Guaidó did not have the hundreds of thousands the opposition commanded 
on April 2002, and his triumphant march was swiftly blocked by the 
National Guard. He quickly retreated to Altamira in the east.

    A pitiful defeat

As dawn approached in Caracas, Leopoldo Lopez and his family had hidden 
in the Chilean embassy and 25 soldiers were asking for asylum at the 
Brazilian embassy. There was an announcement that Guaidó was going to 
address the nation at 6pm, but the time came and went and nothing 
happened. The coup seemed to have completely fizzled out. Later on, 
Lopez and his family moved to the Spanish embassy.

Trump was so frustrated that he issued even more threats against Cuba:

    “If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and
    other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to
    the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete embargo, together
    with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba.”

This is completely preposterous. The reason why the attempts at regime 
change by the US in Venezuela have so far failed is not because of 
“operations” by “Cuban Troops” to cause “destruction to the 
Constitution”, but rather a combination of the stupidity and 
miscalculations of the Venezuelan opposition and its masters in 
Washington, the resilience and anti-imperialist spirit of a large 
section of the Venezuelan people, and the support that Russia and China 
are providing the government. In fact, US sanctions, its seizure of 
Venezuelan assets and other imperialist measures are certainly causing 
death and destruction!

It is clear that Trump thinks that, by exerting pressure on the Cuban 
Revolution, he will be able to break the back of the Maduro government. 
The US has already toughened up sanctions against Cuba, including 
implementing, for the first time, a clause in the Helms-Burton act that 
allows US citizens to sue companies in third countries using property in 
Cuba that was expropriated during the revolution. This is a scandalous 
act of imperialist aggression, which can have a very negative impact on 
the already fragile Cuban economy.

Finally, at 8.24pm, Guaidó came out with a delirious video message on 
Twitter. Rather than admitting the failure of his attempt, he announced 
“tomorrow [May 1] we will continue the implementation of Operation 
Freedom,” he thanked the Armed Forces for their “support” while 
insisting that “Maduro does not have control of the Armed Forces”.

The problem for Guaidó and Trump is that they have built the momentum to 
a “day of reckoning” twice already, on January 24 and February 23, and 
failed on both occasions. Very soon, if the situation does not turn in 
Guaidó’s favour today, we will start to see the fracturing of the 
opposition amongst mutual recriminations and backstabbing. The 
opposition ranks, mainly drawn from middle-and-middle-upper class 
layers, will feel disappointed and betrayed by their own leaders, once 
again, as was the case with the 2014 and 2017 /guarimbas/.

    Why did the coup fail?

The failed coup yesterday raises a number of questions. This was a 
completely botched attempt: the coup did not control any military bases 
nor units, had no support from any commanding officers, no TV or radio 
stations were taken and it was dispersed with tear gas, so, why did they 
launch it?

Did they expect support which did not materialise? Did they believe 
their own lies about mass support amongst the population and an amy that 
was ready to crack and all that was needed was a spark in the form of 
action? Was it pure desperation at their lack of success? Why did they 
not wait until 1 May, when they had announced mass demonstrations? Did 
they fear the turn out was not going to be massive?

The government, for its part, seems to have acted in a very indecisive 
manner. No TV statements by Maduro for 15 hours, no use of the army to 
crush the coup, no high-ranking government officers at the rally in 
Miraflores. Was it an attempt to prevent bloodshed in an open military 
clash, as Maduro argued in his TV address last night? Was the government 
unaware of how far the conspiracy went? Was it not sure that it could 
count on military units to use them against the coup?

Some are saying the coup had high-ranking support from SEBIN, DGCIM and 
other units, but it was launched prematurely, and that it had been 
planned for 2 May, after the intended opposition rallies on 1 May. This 
would go some way to explaining today's somewhat bizarre events, and it 
would be a worrying sign for the future, as it would mean military 
commanders were involved, but recoiled at the last minute. From what we 
know, there were elements in SEBIN involved in the coup. Some of the 
soldiers taking part declared that they had been given weapons at the 
SEBIN headquarters. Apparently, SEBIN director Manuel Christopher 
Figuera was removed from his position and arrested.

All along, we have said that the fight against the coup cannot be left 
to the army generals. They have their own interests and that is what 
they will defend. As long as they think these are best defended by the 
Maduro government, they will remain loyal. If they think this government 
is going down and is no longer able to protect their interests, they 
will seek to intervene in order to guarantee them in the short, medium 
and long term.

    1) To all intents and purposes the botched coup today in Venezuela
    has collapsed. Leopoldo Lopez is in the Chilean embassy. 25 coup
    soldiers are in the Brazilian embassy. Guaidó is on the run.

    Thousands came out to defend the Miraflores Palace.
    pic.twitter.com/AYlEgydtZH <https://t.co/AYlEgydtZH>

    — Jorge Martin (@marxistJorge) April 30, 2019

The continuation of the economic crisis, aggravated by sanctions, 
together with international pressure, might, at a certain stage push key 
players within the Armed Forces to want to save their own skins by 
removing Maduro.

Even now, the situation is not completely under control. Guaidó has led 
an actual coup attempt, with troops, and has not yet been arrested. 
Lopez has not been arrested either and remains free to hop from one 
embassy to another.

The IMT and the Venezuelan comrades from Lucha de Clases in Venezuela 
have argued since January that Guaidó should be arrested, the National 
Assembly disbanded and strong measures taken against coup plotters, 
including arming and developing the militia and expropriating the coup 
plotters and imperialism. Furthermore, we argued against moving Leopoldo 
Lopez from jail to house arrest. Events yesterday are a further 
demonstration that we were right.

Today is May Day, and there will be opposition and chavista 
demonstrations in Caracas and across Venezuela. The fact that 
Washington’s coup attempts have been so far unsuccessful does not mean 
they are going to abandon their aims. Yesterday, /Yahoo News/ published 
a report about the proposal by private mercenary company, Blackwater to 
create a 5,000 strong mercenary army to intervene in Venezuela. US 
sanctions and seizing of Venezuelan assets are having a crippling impact 
on an economy already weakened by five years of recession.

Our duty is to oppose this imperialist aggression, as we have 
consistently done since this latest attempt began on 24 January. At the 
same time, we must point out the only methods that can guarantee victory 
over the counter-revolution. The Venezuelan comrades of Lucha de Clases 
were outside Miraflores Palace yesterday. In a statement 
<https://luchadeclases.org.ve/?p=7404>, they put forward the following 
slogans: Jail Guaidó, disband the coup-plotting National Assembly, 
strengthen and spread the Bolivarian militias, respond to the seizing of 
assets by expropriating imperialist multinationals, expropriate the 
coup-plotting bourgeoisie, workers control of production, down with 
bureaucracy, complete the revolution with rank-and-file organisation.

/The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not 
necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff./

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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