US-backed Coup in Venezuela Thwarted

Let’s see how much media attention this story gets. CounterPunch has a great round up of what US news has been saying about Venezuela recently.  It is an excellent read.

Headlines scream danger, crisis and imminent demise, while the usual suspects declare covert war on a people whose only crime is being gatekeeper to the largest pot of black gold in the world.

Here is some of what the AP wrote

Venezuelan officials Friday cheered the thwarting of what they said was a planned coup that involved a plot to blow up the presidential palace.


Opposition coalition spokesman Jesus Torrealba rejected the accusations Friday.

“The government makes up these stories about coups to avoid talking about how the country is breaking down,” he told a group of journalists.

Venezuela’s government has frequently alleged coup plots, often without providing much evidence or follow up.

A study by the Caracas-based newspaper Ultimas Noticias counted 63 alleged assassination plots between when late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999 and his death in 2013. President Nicolas Maduro’s government has denounced more than a dozen purported plots since coming to power 15 months ago.


Top officials delivered an hours-long presentation in which they accused a handful of opposition leaders of working with the U.S. ambassador in neighboring Colombia to “annihilate” Maduro.

Those who believe the government are a quick to recall Washington’s endorsement of a coup that toppled Chavez for two days in 2002.

Reuters on February 2nd wrote about Visa restrictions against Venezuelan officials and Maduro’s claims of Washington interference in Venezuela 

Venezuela’s socialist government has long accused Washington of seeking to destabilize its rule to gain control of the OPEC country’s oil. Relations worsened after the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush applauded a botched coup in 2002 against the late President Hugo Chavez.

Despite diplomatic tensions, Venezuela has remained one of the top suppliers of oil to the United States.

Maduro recently accused U.S. Vice President Joe Biden of plotting to overthrow his administration. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday described the accusation as “baseless and false.”

On Monday, Maduro accused Biden of telling leaders of Caribbean nations that the Venezuelan government’s days were numbered and that they should ready themselves for the end of Petrocaribe.

Petrocaribe, created by Chavez, allows countries in the Caribbean and Central America to finance oil and fuel purchases at advantageous rates. Maduro insists the program will be maintained, though volumes dropped in 2013 to their lowest level in five years.

Meanwhile other international news outlets like the Venezuela based South American news network teleSUR, along with other news channels such as RT and Iran’s PressTv have coverage of the coup and has been reporting the claims of America’s role in the now foiled plot.

Telesur has a whole page dedicated to the “War on Venezuela’s Democracy” with the subtitle “Making the Economy Scream” which is an echo of the Nixon/Kissinger coup plan against Chile in the 1970’s leading up to the coup of 1973.

Here is a timeline of how the coup would have taken place had it succeeded.

RT has a description of what the attack was supposed to be

The coup plan involved an attack on the presidential palace or another top target, Maduro said.

“This was an attempt to use a group of military aviation officers to provoke a violent event,”and one of the detained plotters was “an [Air Force] general called Hernandez, alias el Oso [the bear].”

“On these dates, February 12 and 13, during the commemoration events, [the plot was to] fly a ‘Tucano’ airplane, arm the Tucano and attack the Miraflores [Presidential] Palace, or whichever location I would have been when participating in any one of these events. And then later attack other targets which they had outlined before,” Maduro said, as quoted by AP.

The alleged plot was uncovered by the Venezuelan intelligence agency, and one of the participating officers was connected to the right-wing forces allegedly planning to provoke a wave of violence.

According to Maduro, the military man was given financial aid, as well as a US visa, which permitted him to leave on February 3.

The president provided no concrete evidence of the alleged coup.

It is not the first time that Maduro has said there has been an attempted coup against his government. At the beginning of February, the president accused US Vice President Joe Biden of orchestrating a plot against Venezuela.

Last December, Maduro announced“recordings” disclosing the US plan to bribe and corrupt Venezuelan authorities.

PressTV writes about the history of the diplomatic relations

Caracas and Washington remain at odds since late Hugo Chavez became president in 1999. Both sides have refused to exchange ambassadors since 2010. The countries have chargé d’affaires running their respective embassies.

The German Embassy in Caracas made an alarming statement about an impending crisis

In the statement, German diplomat Polster informs readers that the embassy is extremely “worried” about the current situation in the country and advises German residents to take a number of “precautions in the face of the crisis”.

These precautions include having “lots of provisions” such as enough food and drinking water to last “in our opinion, for 2 weeks”, as well as cash, medicine, batteries, candles, and copies of important documents.

“We shouldn’t take it for granted that we will have access to electricity or internet services. The validity of passports and identity documents should be verified regularly,” continues the text.


Venezuelan National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello revealed the details Thursday night of what the government says was a “thwarted coup.”

Illegal in Venezuela AR-15 rifles were confiscated

Cabello said that authorities had confiscated grenades, military and Sebin (intelligence) uniforms, an eight-minute video with a declaration by the plotters, and a collection of AR-15 rifles. Widely available in the United States, the AR-15 was first developed for the U.S. military, but is today one of the most popular rifles commercially available in the United States. It is not legally available to the public in Venezuela.

The AR-15 has been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States, including the 2012 Aurora shooting, which left 12 people dead in Colorado.


He also showed a photo (below) and alleged that a U.S. official recently visited Venezuela to observe the trial of Leopoldo Lopez, who is accused of having incited last year’s opposition violence, which led to 43 deaths.

“What right does a U.S. official have to attend (the trial)?” asked Rodriguez.

Role of US Sanctions against Venezuela in coup attempt 
The section on US interference in South America referenced a law that Obama signed in 2014 sanctions against Venezuela

2. Sanctions

Obama signed a law in 2014 allowing him to sanction Venezuelan officials for alleged involvement in putting down violent right wing student protests.

The trade sanctions law practice Baker & McKenzie wrote on their sanctions blog in December that

As a related matter, as previously discussed in our earlier blog post (available here), in November 2014 the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security amended the Export Administration Regulations by issuing a final rule to impose license requirements on the export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) of certain items to or within Venezuela when intended for a military end use or end user. This final rule was also in response to the Venezuelan government’s violent repression of the Venezuelan people during the February-to-May antigovernment protests in Venezuela.

The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 was one of 61 laws Obama signed into law back in December. (I wrote about another law signed that day here and am working on some more pieces)

The Hill reports that Republican Senator from Tenessee Bob Corker had a hold on the legislation this summer but doesn’t explain why he held up the bill. I haven’t seen any other reporting on that.

This is how Obama described the law as he signed it

S. 2142, the “Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014,” which imposes sanctions on persons responsible for violations of human rights in Venezuela;

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this about the bill in December

Thanks, Josh. Now that the House has passed a bill calling for sanctions against some members of the government of Venezuela for human rights violations, what are the President’s intentions? Is he going to sign it? And does he intend to enforce those sanctions?

MR. EARNEST: Thanks for the question. The administration shares Congress’s concerns and those of other regional and international actors about the situation in Venezuela. We have not and will not remain silent in the face of Venezuelan government actions that violate human rights and fundamental freedoms, and deviate from well-established democratic norms.

We continue to work closely with Congress and others in the region on this issue to support greater political space in Venezuela, and ensure the government lives up to its shared commitment to the collective defense of democracy as articulated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The President plans to sign the bill into law, and we’ll coordinate with the relevant agencies and members to implement the law.

There was a much more interesting State Department briefing today (the video is here staring at 44 minutes)

QUESTION: President Maduro last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response?

MS. PSAKI: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and legal. We have seen many times that the Venezuelan Government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan Government to deal with the grave situation it faces.


QUESTION: Sorry, Jen —

QUESTION: Sorry. The U.S. has – whoa, whoa, whoa. The U.S. has a longstanding practice of not promoting – what did you say? How longstanding is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a longstanding practice.

MS. PSAKI: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history —

QUESTION: Not in this case.

MS. PSAKI: — is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations.

QUESTION: In this specific case.

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: But if you go back not that long ago during your lifetime, even – (laughter) – this is not that long since —

MS. PSAKI: The last 21 years. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well done. Touche. But I mean, does “longstanding” mean 10 years in this case? I mean, what is —

MS. PSAKI: Matt, my intention was to speak to the specific reports.

QUESTION: I understand, but you said it’s a longstanding U.S. practice, and I’m not so sure – it depends on what your definition of “longstanding” is.

MS. PSAKI: We will – okay.

Fox News Latino (the better half of the network) went straight to the point of the bill when it was first introduced in March 2014

Bipartisan Senate Legislation Seeks Funding For Anti-Government Protesters In Venezuela

 Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio introduced a bill aimed at supporting anti-government groups in Venezuela.

The bill by Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Rubio, a Florida Republican, authorizes $15 million for help “to defend human rights, support democratic civil society organizations, [and] assist independent media,” according to a statement by Rubio’s office.

Senator Rubio made a statement on the Senate floor on Obama’s AUMF against ISIS and on the situation in Venezuela

The Congressional Budget Office said

implementing S. 2142 would cost $23 million over the 2015-2019 period, assuming appropriation of the specified and necessary amounts. Pay-as-you-go procedures apply to this legislation because it would affect direct spending and revenues; however, CBO estimates that those effects would not be significant.

The full statement has some more details and adds that

The bill would authorize the appropriation of $15 million in 2015 to promote civil society in Venezuela. In recent years, the Administration has spent roughly $5 million each year for similar activities in Venezuela. Other provisions of S. 2142 would increase administrative costs of the Departments of State and the Treasury. Based on information from the Administration, CBO estimates the departments would require additional appropriations of $1 million a year in 2015 and 2016, growing to $2 million a year thereafter.

In other news Venezuela won a stay in court regarding 

enforcement of a $1.6 billion arbitration award to ExxonMobil subsidiaries imposed after it nationalized its oil industry, a federal judge ruled.


When Mobil Cerro Negro and other subsidiaries sued to collect the award in federal court here, Venezuela raised a jurisdictional argument that U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmeyer called a case of “first impression” for the court


Venezuela had better luck persuading Engelmeyer to hold off on the enforcement until the ICSID rules on its application to revise the award.

I wonder when we will get some proof that the US really was involved.  Remember that this is hardly the first coup.  I would call Ukraine a coup, not by Putin, but by the West as Stephen Cohen has explained many times about how it was stubbornness by the EU that forced Yanukovych to sign the economic deal with Russia instead of with both Russia and the EU.

Then there was the leaked tape of  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland speaking with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt which was explained as planning a coup on Democracy Now.

While President Obama has vowed to “continue to engage all sides,” a recently leaked audio recording between two top U.S. officials reveal the Obama administration has been secretly plotting with the opposition.

And that is just a recent ongoing example in a long list of US led regime changes.

There are even several articles that list US coups in Latin America alone, there are that many.

It took 60 years for the open secret that the US was behind the Iran coup that overthrew Mossadegh and installed Reza Shah Pahlavi who was overthrown in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

I have written about some coups in the past (more than I realized as I looked into it!)

Clinton admits role in Honduras coup

2009 Honduras coup and role in child migrants this past year

The children were fleeing violence as a result of coup in Honduras

Bomb explodes in Chile leading up to anniversary of 1973 coup

Yemen coup

Chilean mine collapse and economic effects of 1973 coup

As always please follow me on Twitter for more updates.

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2 Responses to US-backed Coup in Venezuela Thwarted

  1. Pingback: Venezuela Crisis Growing as US Media Deflects | The Biased Reporter

  2. Pingback: US double-speak on regime change | The Biased Reporter

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