[News] Biden inaugural guest is Venezuelan coup leader charged with inciting violent assault on gov't building

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Mon Jan 18 18:48:10 EST 2021


https://thegrayzone.com/2021/01/17/biden-inaugural-guest-venezuelan-coup-leader-inciting-violent-assault/ 
<https://thegrayzone.com/2021/01/17/biden-inaugural-guest-venezuelan-coup-leader-inciting-violent-assault/> 



  Biden inaugural guest is Venezuelan coup leader charged with inciting
  violent assault on gov't building

Anya Parampil·January 17, 2021

------------------------------------------------------------------------


        After condemning the pro-Trump invasion of the Capitol, the
        incoming Biden administration invited Carlos Vecchio – a coup
        leader charged in the 2014 torching of the Venezuelan Attorney
        General’s office – to its inaugural ceremony.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

As Washington recovered from shock and outrage caused by pro-Trump 
hooligans storming the United States Congress – breaking windows, 
smashing doors, and intimidating police officers in order to push their 
way inside – a sense of pre-inaugural excitement began to sweep the 
nation’s capital. Who would be attending incoming President Joe Biden’s 
inauguration on January 20, scheduled to take place exactly two weeks 
following the Capitol riot?

While heavily armed National Guard troops descended onto Washington’s 
streets to set up check-points, construct fences around government 
buildings, and establish their military presence, news about the 
upcoming swearing-in ceremony began to trickle out in the media.

Lady Gaga was booked to belt out the National Anthem, while Jennifer 
Lopez, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, and a host of other Democratic 
Party-aligned pop artists were scheduled to perform throughout the day. 
Former Trump cabinet members, including Vice President Mike Pence, 
Supreme Court Justices, and lawmakers were all expected to attend, 
though the National Mall would be closed to the general public.

Beyond entertainers and high-level federal officials, foreign 
dignitaries were invited to join a smaller-than-usual group of 
individuals permitted to witness the day’s festivities. Among those 
dignitaries 
<https://apnews.com/article/venezuela-caracas-latin-america-diplomacy-dd7de047b619aa0a714a38ae02a4834c>is 
Carlos Vecchio 
<https://thegrayzone.com/2019/06/18/exxon-ambassador-carlos-vecchio-venezuela-coup-lobbyist/>, 
a former Exxon lawyer who currently serves as US-recognized “Interim 
President” Juan Guaidó’s envoy in Washington. When the Trump 
Administration initiated a coup against Venezuela’s government in 
January of 2019, Vecchio became Guaidó’s ambassador, and has risen to 
prominence as the de facto leader of a US-based exile lobby dedicated to 
toppling Venezuela’s UN-recognized government.

The Biden team’s decision to invite Vecchio was a disappointing sign to 
those hoping the new administration would break from Trump’s failed and 
destructive policy of recognizing Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader. In the 
two years since Washington appointed the previously unknown opposition 
figure to lead its attempt at regime change, Guaidó has failed to rally 
public support in Venezuela or gain control of any government ministry. 
The country’s military remains loyal to President Nicolás Maduro and the 
United Nations still recognizes the Maduro government’s authority.

Beyond giving the appearance that Biden will continue the Trump 
Administration’s doomed Venezuela policy, Vecchio’s presence at the 
presidential swearing-in ceremony was filled with irony. In the days 
following the Capitol riot, Biden and his allies have denounced the 
violent takeover of Congress as an assault on democracy, with the 
incoming president himself declaring the rioters to be “domestic 
terrorists.”

Yet Carlos Vecchio, the Guaidó ally with a fresh ticket to Biden’s 
inauguration, is responsible for leading his own assault on his home 
country’s democracy – and is currently wanted in Venezuela for inciting 
a violent attack on the Attorney General’s office in Caracas.


      *Biden’s guest charged with inspiring a violent assault on
      Venezuela’s public institutions*

On February 12, 2014, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López led a 
feverish rally of his supporters in the heart of Venezuela’s capital, 
Caracas. For over a month, López and his political allies had been 
holding demonstrations aimed at overthrowing newly-elected president 
Nicolás Maduro, who came into office following snap elections held in 
the aftermath of Hugo Chávez’s death.

Carlos Vecchio, the corporate lawyer who went on to represent Juan 
Guaidó in Washington, also spoke at the demonstration, and stood loyally 
by López’s side as he delivered his incendiary speech calling for an 
angry march to the Attorney General’s office, and whipping the crowd 
into chants of, “No fear! No fear!”

López’s supporters heeded his call and charged straight for the office 
of Venezuela’s Public Prosecutor, eventually setting the building on 
fire. Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression project 
conceded 
<https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/el-caso-de-leopoldo-lopez/>the 
mayhem “resulted in the death of two people and considerable damage to 
public property.”

López and his allies, including Vecchio, were charged for their role in 
inciting the destruction. López was eventually sentenced to 13 years in 
prison for his actions, while Vecchio fled to the United States to 
escape “incitement of violence” charges.

The attack on Venezuela’s public institutions in February of 2014 
mirrored events that would take place in Washington DC roughly six years 
later, when President Donald Trump delivered a speech on the White House 
eclipse instructing his supporters to march to the Capitol as lawmakers 
voted to cerity his election loss. Within minutes of arriving at 
Congress, Trump’s followers overwhelmed the meager crowd of police 
deployed to protect the legislature and forced their way inside – 
unafraid to shatter doors and windows as they did so.

Following the violent breach of the Capitol, incoming president Joe 
Biden characterized the mob’s actions as “an unprecedented assault on 
our democracy, an assault literally on the citadel of liberty, in the 
United States Capitol itself” and “an assault on the rule of law.” 
Democrats in the House of Representatives quickly moved to impeach 
Trump, charging the president with “incitement of insurrection.”

In light of their outraged response to the Capitol raid, which they 
branded an act of illegal insurrection, Biden and his allies might be 
sympathetic to the Venezuelan government, which similarly moved to 
charge López and his co-conspirators, including Vecchio, for their role 
in encouraging a blitz on government buildings after the country’s 
Attorney General’s office was torched by a politically-charged mob.

Instead, the wanted coup leader Vecchio was welcomed by a bipartisan 
crew of top Washington politicians including President Trump, House 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Florida neocon Senator Marco Rubio, and former 
Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The violent actions of Vecchio and his allies were hardly limited to the 
events of February 12, 2014. The chaotic demonstrations they led lasted 
until May of that year, resulting in the deaths of 49 people and roughly 
10 billion dollars in damage. Regime change rampages by Venezuela’s 
opposition have featured assaults 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/11211>on journalists, the 
construction <https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13186>of barricades 
manned by vandals, and the burning 
<https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40157729>to death of 
political opponents.

On June 13, 2017, activists set 
<https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/13180>Venezuela’s Supreme Court on 
fire following jailed opposition leader López’s call for a rebellion 
against the Maduro government. Days later a police officer named Óscar 
Pérez hijacked <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40426642>a 
government helicopter and attempted to launch four grenades at the Court 
while firing live bullets at the country’s Interior Ministry. (Trump 
honored Pérez 
<https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/1097618046888435713?s=20> during 
a political rally in South Florida on February 18, 2019).

For his part, Juan Guaidó has led two failed campaigns of violent 
insurrection against Venezuela’s government. In April of 2019, he called 
<https://www.google.com/search?q=april+30+uprising+venezuela&oq=april+30+uprising+venezuela&aqs=chrome..69i57.4907j1j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>for 
an uprising against President Maduro while a group of a few dozen 
soldiers launched an attack on the La Carlota Air Base in Caracas. While 
the rebellion failed to generate popular support, López was broken out 
of house arrest during the day’s events, leading to his eventual exile 
in Spain.

Roughly a year later, Guaidó was exposed at the center of yet another 
coup plot when former U.S. Green Beret Jordan Goudreau accused 
<https://apnews.com/article/5f44624bb7442d85e431cd64a4aed3a8>the 
politician of contracting his services to carry out a botched capture or 
kill operation targeting President Maduro. Goudreau, who previously 
provided private security for Trump campaign rallies, produced a 
contract 
<https://twitter.com/MV_Eng/status/1257773881026244609?s=20>containing 
Guaidó’s signature along with a voice recording 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=83&v=rLGWmDsCmms&feature=emb_title>of 
Guaidó allegedly discussing the deal though Guaidó himself has denied 
involvement.

Biden and the Democrats reacted with indignation when the U.S. Capitol 
was breached for just one afternoon, immediately initiating Trump’s 
second impeachment by the House of Representatives. Within days, the 
Capitol was surrounded with unscalable fencing and 25,000 National Guard 
soldiers were summoned to occupy central Washington DC – more than three 
times the amount of troops deployed to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan 
combined.

It would be instructive to imagine how Democrats would have responded if 
Trump or his supporters attempted anything like the years-long campaign 
of insurrection by Venezuela’s opposition – and did so with the 
full-throated support of a foreign power. What if Trump supporters had 
set up barricades around Washington DC, preventing residents from 
leaving or entering their own neighborhoods? What if they had lit the 
Supreme Court on fire and bombed it from the air in a stolen military 
helicopter? And how would Democrats have reacted if Trump had contracted 
foreign mercenaries to capture or kill Biden?

Anyone troubled by these hypothetical scenarios should be equally 
disturbed that Carlos Vecchio, a veteran coup leader allied with 
seditious forces in his home country, will be present at Biden’s 
inauguration on January 20.


      *Sen. Durbin lobbies for Venezuelan coup leaders hours after
      condemning Trumpist “insurrection”*

In the lead up to the House vote on President Trump’s impeachment, on 
January 11, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin tweeted 
<https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/1348679317623099392>, “The 
President and his Republican enablers incited a violent mob into 
storming the Capitol… This was an assault on our democracy, our national 
security, and our Constitution. There must be accountability, including 
impeachment.”

Hours later Durbin took to Twitter again to boast 
<https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/1348747727853727748> of his 
meeting with incoming Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, saying the two 
discussed “his plan for the State Department in the Biden Administration.”

According to the senator’s office, Durbin explicitly advocated the Biden 
administration preserve support for Juan Guaidó, whom he described as 
Venezuela’s “Interim-President.”

“We thank you Senator Durbin for addressing with the nominee for U.S. 
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken the critical situation of Venezuela, 
the actions to restoring democracy hijacked by Nicolas Maduro’s 
dictatorship, and the necessary support to the Venezuelan people,” 
Vecchio tweeted in response to news of the conversation.


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