Venezuela denounces US coup plotting

Jorge Arreaza

Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza has reiterated his condemnation of the United States for seeking an intervention and supporting military conspiracies.

His September 9 comments followed a report that members of the US government have been meeting with Venezuelan military officers who were actively plotting to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro since mid-2017.

“Venezuela reiterates its denouncement and condemns the continuing aggressions that the US government has directly promoted against the constitutional President @NicolasMaduro, democratically elected and re-elected by a wide electoral margin in May this year,” Jorge Arreaza tweeted  on September 9, a day after the NYT report came out.

A day earlier, Arreaza directly addressed the report and slammed the US for meeting with coup plotters against Maduro. “We denounce the intervention plans and support for military conspirators by the government of the United States against Venezuela,” he said. “Even in US media, the crass evidence is coming to light.”

NYT writers Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey published a report on September 8 detailing the exchanges between US officials and Venezuela coup plotters. According to their account, the “secret” meetings were compiled from interviews with 11 “current and former” US officials and a former Venezuelan commander, speaking under condition of anonymity.

The writers were able to gather that conversations began after Trump declared in August last year that the US had a “military option” for Venezuela. This “encouraged rebellious Venezuelan military officers to reach out to Washington”, they said.

During the first meetings, one of the attendees allegedly told US officials they could convince small groups within the Venezuelan military to plot against the Maduro government.

Aside from confirming what the Venezuelan government has repeatedly warned against, namely the active plotting against the Maduro government by the political opposition and US participation, Londoño and Casey also revealed that the US designated a career diplomat to attend the conversations, listen and report on them.

A senior US administration official who also spoke to the reporters anonymously said the Trump administration had considered dispatching a veteran Central Intelligence Agency official, Juan Cruz. It later decided “it would be more prudent to send a career diplomat instead”.

The NYT article claims that “in the fall of 2017, the diplomat reported that the Venezuelans didn’t appear to have a detailed plan and had shown up at the encounter hoping the Americans would offer guidance or ideas”.

However, the officers had explicitly “asked the US to supply them with encrypted radios, citing the need to communicate securely, as they developed a plan to install a transitional government to run the country until elections could be held.”

Londoño and Casey report US officials did not provide material support, and “the plans unravelled after a recent crackdown that led to the arrest of dozens of the plotters”.

On August 4, during the Bolivarian National Armed Forces 81st anniversary celebrations, two drones packed with C4 exploded in an attempt to assassinate Maduro, several other government officials and guests. More than 40 people, including opposition legislator Julio Borges and retired colonel Oswaldo Garcia, have been linked to the attack.

The current state of the collaboration between US and Venezuelan officials to topple Maduro is unknown.

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]