Venezuela, the puppet and the puppeteer

“We were deceived. They told us that we would participate in another operation,” the soldiers (in the image) denounced who initially joined in yesterday’s skirmish against the government of Venezuela. Photo: Afp

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

The scenography

One word sums up the attempted State coup against President Nicolas Maduro on this April 30: failure. Boasting, the Venezuelan opposition gambled on overthrowing the president. It lost. After some skirmishes, their call quickly deflated.

Beyond the set designed for the occasion and the deafening shouting of those who fantasize about the end of the Bolivarian Revolution, the day’s result is clear. On the one hand, commanders of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB) remained loyal to the Venezuelan president and tens of thousands of Chavistas guard the Miraflores Palace. On the other hand, the visible head of the operation, opposition leader Juan Guaido, is on the run, while the fugitive Leopoldo López and his wife had to take refuge in the Embassy of Chile and then in the Embassy of Spain.

The bluff began early in the morning. It was more a propaganda presentation that a military action in form. Posing for the video cameras on the Superhighway of the East, next to the Altamira traffic distributor, surrounded with a small group of military deserters, mostly low-ranking, and police, with the La Carlota military base behind them, Juan Guaido called to the Venezuelan people to take to the streets, to start the definitive phase of Operation Liberty and to make the “definitive cessation of the usurpation” a reality.

Proclaiming himself chief of the Armed Forces, the president of the National Assembly harangued his imaginary soldiers: “Today I call on the soldiers, and all the military families to accompany this feat […] There are a lot of soldiers that join in […] The time is now.”

A general without troops, Guaido issues orders, not through his high command, but on Twitter: “People of Venezuela, we need to go out in the streets together. Organized and together let’s mobilize the main military units. People of Caracas, everyone to La Carlota,” he wrote in one tweet.

“At this moment –he lied in another tweet– I’m with the principal military units of our armed forces beginning the final phase of Operation Liberty.” Now on track, he fantasized in one more: “The streets of Venezuela continue filling up with more and more people!”

With the surprise factor on their side, the rebels achieved an ephemeral early success: liberating Leopoldo López, who was serving his sentence under house arrest. And, before colliding head-on with reality, accompanied by armed protesters with pistols, they lived a few minutes of glory. It didn’t last long. With eight tanks, four 7.62 machine guns and high-power rifles, they blocked the road and attempted to advance on La Carlota. They couldn’t take it.

They were deflated more quickly than slowly. Soldiers and police that initially participated in the skirmish withdrew. “We were deceived. They told us that we were going to participate in another operation,” they denounced. The ear of corn was gradually shelled. It was not yet noon, when 80 percent of the military personnel that formed part of the attempt abandoned the leaders of the plot. One-by-one, the eight tanks were taken to their places de origin.

Dislodged from the freeway, the coup plotters tried to march towards the Miraflores Palace. They were not successful. The offices of the president were surrounded with thousands miles of Chavista sympathizers. They had to retreat towards the Altamira neighborhood.

Chavistas gather to protect the government palace.

Even less successful was Guaido’s call for citizens to take over the streets. Not even in the neighborhoods that they historically control were the anti-Chavistas able to mobilize the number of sympathizers that have traditionally supported them in all these years of opposition struggle.

US Senator Marco Rubio was also disappointed. He announced on Twitter: “On May 1, Juan Guaido headed what would potentially be the definitive moment in the struggle against the Maduro regime in Venezuela. The leaders of the FANB must defend the Constitution and protect the demonstrators from attacks of Maduro’s armed gangs.”

The interminable coup

The collapse of the anti-Chavistas is the last link in a long chain of failed coups. As recently as August 4, 2018 there was an attempt to assassinate President Maduro with a drone attack. The attempt was planned in Colombia, under the direction of the opposition politician Julio Borges and the support of the financier Osmán Alexis Delgado.

Borges is a Venezuelan politician and lawyer that in 2018 participated as a representative of the opposition in the peace talks held in Santo Domingo, and simultaneously in the organization of the attempt against Maduro. Together with the businessman Parsifal de Sola, he played a key role in the failed Operation Jericó in 2014-15, which attempted another State coup.

Shortly afterwards, at the beginning of 2019, retired Colonel Oswaldo Valentín García Palomo coordinated another failed attempted State coup against Maduro. Entrepreneurs, politicians and CIA agents participated in the action. According to the retired colonel’s testimony, he contacted a CIA official in Colombia. And in that country he also met with the Venezuelan businessman “Parsifal de Sola and a national police agent of that country, who gave me support.” According to Minister Jorge Rodríguez, the Colombian police are the coup leaders’ link with ex president Juan Manuel Santos.

García Palomo was arrested last January 31, when he entered Venezuela for the coup, thanks to the work of the local intelligence services. The retired colonel was led to believe coronel that a military uprising was underway in Caracas, and a vehicle was placed at his disposition so that he would move inside the country.

Starting last January 10, when Nicolás Maduro began another term as president, a new script was launched from Washington. The deputy Juan Guaido proclaimed himself president in charge of Venezuela. Threatening and arrogant, Donald Trump put his cards on the table: in the course of 2019 he would be able to concretize his country’s military intervention in Venezuela.

It is well known that the empire is accustomed to wrapping its colonial aggressions with oratorical games in favor of human rights, democracy and wellbeing. On this occasion, the intimidating discourse against the Bolivarian Revolution was no exception. It only added an ingredient to the interventionist script: a nonexistent humanitarian crisis.

They are not words in the wind. Trump’s discourse and that of his expeditionary friends walk hand in hand with the declarations and maneuvers of their Venezuelan puppets. Like a wooden doll that moves its lips to pretend to speak, through the mouth of Guaido is heard the barely dissimulated voice of the imperial ventriloquist. The bravado and self-proclaimed rebuffs have transported the Venezuelan opposition to times of its worst abjection and submission.

On that route, with the pretext of food aid, last February 23, the puppeteer and the puppets gambled on trying to promote, from the Colombian border, the rupture of the FANB, the desertion of high commanders, civilian overflow and the action of paramilitary groups, to attempt to occupy “liberated” territory, in which to install the government of the self-proclaimed Guaido. Unfortunately for them, la attack failed. To the opposition’s disenchantment, the Bolivarian military did not split; they contained the onslaught of anti-Chavismo and maintained control of the territory. The civic-military union was maintained. The alleged food aid to Venezuelan territory (that included material for street fighting and installation of protesters), brought to Colombia by the United States and Chile, was not able to cross the border blockade.

It has been more than 20 years ago that the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez gave the history of our continent a radical turn and put socialism once again at the center of its horizon. Neither the empire nor its creole vassals have ever forgiven him. Nor do they dispense with President Maduro, democratically elected by a majority of the people, not having abandoned that route and not having delivered them a power that they have not been able to win at the polls.

This April 30, the Bolivarian Revolution and President Maduro suffered another imperial onslaught, one more of a long chain of attacks. Puppets and puppeteers crashed head on with a people that have a sea of oil under their feet refuse to submit to the whims of the most pedestrian colonialism, which is determined to try to conquer the sky by assault.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




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