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Venezuela Thread

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11 minutes ago, timschochet said:

This argument is about 200 years too old (though I might be skeptical of it even in 1819.) 

Our government has drones and rockets and tanks and antitank guns and a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t have and cannot buy. If our government decides to impose a dictatorship they can. You are effectively already disarmed. 

Agreed but that is the thinking from gun owners. However, anyone saying guns should be completely removed is just as nuts. The saying would hold true: 'outlaw guns and only outlaws will own guns.'

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Anatoly Kurmanaev‏Verified account @AKurmanaev

@AmbJohnBolton mentions Cuba a dozen times in a 12 minute speech on Venezuela in Lima today, or once per minute. The embargo, "it will work in Venezuela and in Cuba." It's been in place for 57 years in Cuba.

8:05 AM - 6 Aug 2019

 

:mellow:

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13 minutes ago, IC FBGCav said:

Just as an example, in one of those videos, a hot dog on the street is 9,000 Bolivars, but the highest denomination is a 500, so you have to shell out 18 bills just for a hot dog, if you have 500 bills to begin with, that is. And ATM's give a max of 3,000 Bolivars.

That guy says the average salary is 40K / week, and the rate of exchange is 6K/$1US, so somewhere around $6 per month.

Edited by SaintsInDome2006

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https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1159157648404520960

#BREAKING | A ship containing 25 thousand tonnes of Soya, destined for Venezuela, has been seized in the Panama Canal due to the US blockade. //

I hope credulous idiots who supported the US attempt to install a puppet govt in Venezuela realize how stupid it was to ever think Trump/Guaido/Bolton/Abrams could possibly give a #### about human rights.  Here they are, attempting to starve a civilian population into submission.  They need to end the sanctions regime and stop making a bad situation worse.  

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3 hours ago, ren hoek said:

https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1159157648404520960

#BREAKING | A ship containing 25 thousand tonnes of Soya, destined for Venezuela, has been seized in the Panama Canal due to the US blockade. //

I hope credulous idiots who supported the US attempt to install a puppet govt in Venezuela realize how stupid it was to ever think Trump/Guaido/Bolton/Abrams could possibly give a #### about human rights.  Here they are, attempting to starve a civilian population into submission.  They need to end the sanctions regime and stop making a bad situation worse.  

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-panama-canal-venezuela/panama-says-canal-operating-normally-no-ships-detained-idUSKCN1UX28P

Quote

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Panama’s Canal Authority said on Wednesday that the canal was operating normally and without delays, adding that no ships had been detained in the trade waterway.

The entity posted the statement on Twitter in response to a tweet from Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, who said a ship carrying 25,000 tonnes of soy had been detained in the canal.

 

Edited by VandyMan

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Man, I wish those credulous idiots realize how stupid it is to believe the state propaganda of a corrupt, criminal, and incompetent kleptocracy.

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Axios reports that President Trump wants a full naval blockade of Venezuela against all advice of his staff and military.

Edited by rockaction

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Maduro's party with a seemingly successful (actual) coup of the last democratic institution left in Venezuela.  Very sad.  Looks like the collapse and refugee crisis will continue...

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7 hours ago, Slapdash said:

Maduro's party with a seemingly successful (actual) coup of the last democratic institution left in Venezuela.  Very sad.  Looks like the collapse and refugee crisis will continue...

Interested in ren’s take on this.

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On 1/5/2020 at 10:50 PM, Alex P Keaton said:

Interested in ren’s take on this.

It is funny how people act so horrified of the Trump administration- then find themselves in lockstep with Mike Pompeo and Elliot Abrams and spew their talking points.  

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How can anyone that has been paying attention the past 3 years think Guaido, a figure groomed by Washington and backed by the Trump administration- whose sanctions regime has killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans- is interested in their human rights and democratic wellbeing?  

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For Western Press, the Only Coup in Venezuela Is Against Guaidó

The international corporate media have entered crisis mode following the replacement of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as head of the country’s National Assembly.

In headline after headline, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro “Takes Over” (NBC, 1/6/20), “Claims Control of” (New York Times, 1/5/20; CNBC, 1/6/20) or “Seizes” (Reuters, 1/5/20; NPR, 1/6/20) parliament, and “Ousts” Guaidó (Wall Street Journal, 1/5/20) in the process.

The Washington Post (1/5/20) takes this hysteria to another level, hyperbolically proclaiming that “Venezuela’s Last Democratic Institution Falls as Maduro Attempts De Facto Takeover of National Assembly.”

Such headlines obscure the elementary if inconvenient fact that Guaidó failed to secure the necessary votes from his own coalition’s deputies to continue as president of the legislature, leading him to convene a parallel, ad hoc session in the offices of the right-wing El Nacional newspaper.

Serving up state propaganda

Corporate journalists repeat unceasingly the US State Department talking point that the January 5 assembly election, which chose Luis Parra as the legislative body’s new president, was “phony” because Guaidó and his loyalists were barred from attending the session, rendering the vote void.

“Venezuela’s socialist government installed a new head of Congress on Sunday after armed troops blocked opposition legislators from entering parliament,” Reuters (1/5/20) misinformed readers.

As Venezuelanalysis (1/5/20) reported, this narrative was refuted by pro-Guaidó lawmaker William Davila, who, after strolling in to the legislature, told press that with few exceptions, virtually all deputies were permitted to take their seats. Other senior opposition lawmakers, including the outgoing first and second vice presidents of the body, were visibly present inside the parliament.

Moreover, video evidence reveals that Guaidó was not himself “prevented,” as the New York Times (1/5/20) had it, from entering the legislature, but rather refused to do so except in the company of fellow lawmakers whose parliamentary immunity had been revoked for alleged criminal offenses. Likely knowing he did not have the votes to secure reelection, Guaidó appears to have declined to attend the session, going as far as to scale a fence in a publicity stunt widely reported by Western outlets that all but ignored the crucial facts behind the day’s events.

Corporate media followed up their lie that the pro-Guaidó opposition was banned from parliament with the dubious claim that the subsequent vote held in the offices of El Nacional was “official.” The Washington Post (1/5/20) matter-of-factly stated, “In a 100-to-0 tally — enough to put him over the top in a full session of the 167-seat chamber — those present reelected Guaidó as head of the legislature.” The reporters evidently neglected to inspect the actual vote tally, which contained glaring irregularities such as votes by legislators abroad fleeing criminal charges, as well as those cast by substitutes for deputies who had already voted for Parra. As even hard-right, Miami-based journalist Patricia Polea highlighted, Jose Regnault Hernandez, the substitute for newly sworn-in National Assembly Second Vice President Jose Gregorio Noriega, was allowed to vote for Guaidó despite Noriega having himself stood for election on a rival ticket earlier that afternoon.

It is also deeply ironic that Western outlets would rush to declare the legitimacy of an irregular vote held in the offices of a local newspaper, given the lengths they have gone to deny the existence of press freedom in Venezuela (FAIR.org, 5/20/19).

Why isn’t Guaidó in jail?

Procedural formalities aside, the real question, which corporate journalists will never ask, is why an opposition figure who arbitrarily declared himself “interim president” with the backing of hostile foreign powers, and who urged the military to rise up to install him in the presidential office, would be permitted to set foot outside a jail cell in Venezuela, let alone stand for reelection as head of parliament?

The answer would require admitting that this naked violation of sovereignty is only tolerated because of the constant threat of lawless imperial violence, which US corporate media enthusiastically cheerlead against other independent Global South states like Iran.

Instead, Western journalists continue to whitewash the US-sponsored coup–the sixth major attempt since 2002–impugning Maduro’s democratically elected government as “authoritarian” or a “dictatorship” (FAIR.org, 4/11/19;  8/5/19), which is newspeak for “legitimate target for bombing and/or murderous sanctions.”

Throwing to the wind any semblance of neutrality, the New York Times (1/5/20) reported:

Venezuela’s authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, moved on Sunday to consolidate his grip on power by taking control of the country’s last independent institution and sidelining the lawmaker who had staked a rival claim to the presidency.

“The political chaos comes at a time when Venezuela is facing economic collapse,” the paper of record added, bolstering the rationale for Maduro’s overthrow. “Hunger is widespread, and millions have fled the country.”  Like most corporate media (FAIR.org, 6/26/19), the Times reflexively avoided mention of US economic sanctions’ role in severely exacerbating the crisis and killing tens of thousands since 2017, writing off the illegal, inhumane measures as “sanctions on Mr. Maduro’s government.”

For the corporate press, it would appear that the only “coup” is that perpetrated by Maduro in insisting on serving out his elected mandate (Washington Post, 1/6/20; Wall Street Journal, 1/6/20; Forbes, 1/7/20).

Concealing corruption

In their elegies to the “last democratic institution in the authoritarian South American state” (Washington Post, 1/5/20), Western journalists rarely attribute Guaidó any significant blame for the perceived debacle.

Despite acknowledging Guaidó’s falling popularity, following his utter failure to oust Maduro, mainstream outlets have turned a blind eye to the opposition leader’s string of humiliating scandals. Guaidó has been linked to Colombian paramilitary drug lords, while his inner circle has been accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid funds, among other illicit acts.

The CBC (1/6/20) has never referred to Juan Guaido as a “would-be president.”

Tellingly, the only corruption allegations mentioned in the latest corporate coverage are those against Parra and his dissident opposition colleagues. Making little effort to conceal its bias, CBC (1/6/20) describes the new National Assembly president as “a previously unknown backbencher mired in accusations of bribe-taking,” whose “rambling comments” were challenged by journalists.

The double standard is striking, given that Western media have devoted strenuous efforts over the past year to anointing a “previously unknown backbencher” as president of Venezuela. The attacks on Parra comes amid threats of US sanctions against him and other opposition politicians who broke with Guaidó. The blatant imperial blackmail recalls similar US threats reportedly issued against opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcón, who defied the opposition’s 2018 electoral boycott that paved the way for the current coup efforts.

Corporate journalists’ discouragement over Guaidó’s failures (FAIR.org, 7/23/19) is becoming ever more pronounced (e.g., Reuters, 12/3/19; Washington Post, 12/17/19; New York Times, 1/6/20). But at the end of the day, they have simply invested too much in this smooth, technocratic figure to fundamentally fault him, let alone actually question the imperial regime-change machinery that produced him and his elite coterie.

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Venezuela's Maduro urges women to have six children

Quote

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has urged women to have six children "for the good of the country".

Appearing at a televised event promoting a national women's healthcare plan, Mr Maduro instructed women to "give birth, give birth".

The country is facing an economic crisis which has resulted in severe food and medicine shortages.

Between 2013 and 2018, 13% of Venezuelan children were malnourished, says UN children's agency Unicef.

...

One in three Venezuelans is struggling to put enough food on the table to meet minimum nutrition requirements, according to a study by the UN World Food Programme.

Amid the economic crisis, one charity said in 2018 that it had seen the number of babies abandoned in the streets or left at the entrances of public buildings increase by 70%.

That seems unwise

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BTW The diplomatic ties between Venezuela and Brazil have been severed after Bolsonaro called Maduro's government a dictatorship and Maduro called Bolsonaro a fascist.
They are both mostly right...
;) 

  • Laughing 1

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It's about time!  Let's see if this gets these imbeciles and criminals out of power.

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11 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Maduro and a bunch of other high ranking officials just got charged with drug trafficking by Atty General Barr: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/nyregion/venezuela-president-drug-trafficking-nicolas-maduro.html

IIRC that's how they got Noriega. Of course IIRC we also had to go in to get Noriega.

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Just now, Slapdash said:

Reading more about his relatives already in jail is interesting :lol: 

Yeah, he' and his family are a real beacon of democratic hope in the world...

Oh wait, they're criminal nacro-trafficking kleptocrats?? No way! 

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2 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Yeah, he' and his family are a real beacon of democratic hope in the world...

Oh wait, they're criminal nacro-trafficking kleptocrats?? No way! 

They are supported by Russia so the bold does not matter to some

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This is incredible.  In the middle of a global pandemic, in which they can barely figure out how to give 2 cents to working people, or provide tests and protective equipment to hospital workers, they scrounge up $15 million dollars to overthrow another democratically elected leader.  They still make acquiring the oil in Venezuela a priority.  

The puppet they are trying to install, Juan Guaido, was pictured with Colombian drug traffickers.  A paramilitary cocaine outfit called the Rastrojos.  The CIA has been involved in the Latin American drug trade for decades.  The US obviously doesn't care about drug trafficking- if anything, they probably want to install Guaido because it'd give them a leg up on the Venezuelan drug trade.  

Meanwhile, US sanctions continue to murder innocent Venezuelans.  It's conceivable that sanctions themselves have moved Venezuela away from traditional financial systems and toward black markets.  This isn't intended as a defense of Maduro of course- but he's the legitimate leader in Venezuela.  This is a neoconservative regime change operation that will bring untold horror to Venezuela if it comes to pass.  

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Distract, distort, deflect. 

Face it, Maduro is a criminal and most Venezuelans know it.  You should wise up too.

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This failed coup attempt is really something.  The illegitimate self-proclaimed govt, run by Juan Guaido, signed a deal for an American PMC (Silvercorp) to overthrow Maduro.  Apparently the contractor was pissed after getting stiffed by Guaido so he released the contract. 

Silvercorp was hired originally by Richard Branson to run security for a Live Aid concert on the Venezuelan border- you might remember them offering trendy luxury packages to Venezuela's wealthy opposition supporters.  

The contract even calls for armed insurgents to be targeted for murder in the post-coup phase.  They were authorized to use drone strikes.  Maduro actually saved Guaido some money by merely capturing the coup plotters instead of killing them on the spot.  It's rare that you get to see an illegal terrorist plot laid out so clearly like this.  

Let's stop and think about this.  What would happen in this country, if an opposition leader inked a contract with a foreign military contractor to send in private mercenaries to overthrow the government?  What would a "dictator" do to that person?  They'd be tried for treason and probably get the death penalty here.  Lord knows what would happen to them if an actual dictator like MBS got a hold of him.  

I get that people want Maduro gone- me personally, I'd like to see the sanctions end and for Venezuela to be left to its own devices.  But I don't see how Guaido can be viewed as anything other than a functionary of the US' goals for a vassal state in Venezuela.  

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6 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

But I don't see how Guaido can be viewed as anything other than a functionary of the US' goals for a vassal state in Venezuela

Afaik, there is no proven connection between Guaido or the mercenaries and USG at this time.

Personally, I don't want a "vassal state" for Venezuela, but I'd like to see their people get access to food, medicine, and electricity.  Also, reforming the economy where actual growth can happen in various sectors and it's not solely dependent on oil revenues or narcotraffic would be good too.  Finally, a government that is duly (and fairly) elected and actually represents the people would be nice.

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@camilatelesur

President AMLO says that Mexico would send fuel to Venezuela, even though it violates US sanctions aimed at starving the Venezuelan people. He says of the US; 'no one has the right to oppress others, no hegemony is allowed to crush any country'.

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@aaronjmate

According to this WSJ report, Leopoldo Lopez was the main Venezuelan opposition figure behind the recent failed mercenary invasion. @amnesty has dubbed Lopez a “prisoner of conscience” & he’s praised by Pod Save America types as a freedom fighter.

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Trump used $601 million dollars looted from Venezuelans to build his Mexico border wall.  

The UK’s high court meanwhile ruled that the Bank of England can jack Venezuela’s gold reserves from the legitimate govt, apparently to be distributed to the self-declared coup govt instead.  
 

Just starve a whole country into submission

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On 6/27/2020 at 7:06 AM, ren hoek said:

@aaronjmate

According to this WSJ report, Leopoldo Lopez was the main Venezuelan opposition figure behind the recent failed mercenary invasion. @amnesty has dubbed Lopez a “prisoner of conscience” & he’s praised by Pod Save America types as a freedom fighter.

For any so interested:

******

Venezuelan Opposition Guru Led Planning to Topple Maduro

Leopoldo López and allies shopped for mercenaries before failed attempt to overthrow regime

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—The politically influential mentor of U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was behind a months long effort to contract mercenaries to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to several people involved in the planning.

Leopoldo López, founder of Mr. Guaidó’s former political party, and other allies considered at least six proposals from private security contractors to carry out military incursions to spur a rebellion in Venezuela’s armed forces and topple the authoritarian president, these people told The Wall Street Journal.

One of the contractors was eventually involved in an attempted incursion in May that was over almost before it began, ending with eight of the mercenaries killed and nearly 50 detained, including two former U.S. soldiers, all of whom are still being held in a Caracas prison.

Mr. Maduro emerged triumphant and his political adversaries have been left fractured, demoralized and lacking a clear strategy. Some foreign allies of the opposition say Mr. Guaidó and his associates should have stuck to negotiations with the Maduro regime and are now questioning their support for the opposition leader.

“Guaidó has damaged his democratic credentials,” said a high-ranking European diplomat who has worked on Venezuela policy. “He gives the impression he’s trying to ride two horses, one on the negotiating track and one more on the coup d’état track.”

Mr. Guaidó and associates of Mr. López have said the May raid was the work of the Maduro regime and that they had cut off contact last year with the group that carried it out.

Most Venezuelans revile Mr. Maduro for the country’s devastating economic meltdown, with only 13% supporting him in a May poll by Caracas firm Datanalisis.

But Mr. Guaidó hasn’t been able to capitalize. His support has eroded steadily from the 61% he enjoyed in January 2019, when the opposition proclaimed him president in a direct challenge to Mr. Maduro. The U.S. and more than 50 countries recognized Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Mr. Guaidó saw his approval fall to 25%—its lowest point yet—in May after the failed plot, according to the Datanalisis poll. Venezuelans are now overwhelmingly pessimistic a transition will take place.

“He started as a sort of a Venezuelan version of Obama,” Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente León said of Mr. Guaidó. “Now the people just don’t believe him. When you lose the hope for change, you also lose your capacity to ask people for sacrifice.”

Within the fractious coalition of opposition parties, much of the blame is now being directed at Mr. López, a 49-year-old Harvard-educated politician and former political prisoner from one of Venezuela’s most prominent families.

For years, he has advocated direct action to remove Mr. Maduro—from a series of protests in 2014 that turned violent to an attempt to spur an uprising in the military ranks last year—often clashing over strategy with other prominent regime foes.

In 2018, after Mr. Maduro was re-elected in a vote widely seen as fraudulent, Mr. López expressed the view that negotiations and the electoral route would take too much time, said a person who spoke with him about strategy.

“He was very concerned that unless something was done soon, then the Venezuelan people would end up like the Cuban people, absolutely passive and broken and unable to mount a defense of themselves,” said the person, who is familiar with the dynamics in the opposition and U.S. policy.

Mr. López couldn’t comment for this article because he can’t speak publicly as part of an agreement with Spain. Now living in the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas, where he is protected from arrest, he remains a powerful political force with influence over Mr. Guaidó, providing leadership on matters ranging from regime change to overhauling the oil industry, opposition activists said.

“One of the biggest errors that the opposition has committed is getting behind Leopoldo López,” said Humberto Calderon-Berti, who served as Mr. Guaidó’s envoy to Colombia until a public spat with Mr. López last year. “In the end, he’s only damaging Guaidó. There has to be a rectification of the strategy, the leadership.”

Mr. Calderon-Berti said he advised opposition parties last year to avoid engaging Venezuelan military defectors to attempt to oust Mr. Maduro, fearing violence would alienate the opposition’s international alliances. Mr. Calderon-Berti isn’t a member of Popular Will, the party that was founded by Mr. López and was Mr. Guaidó’s path to leadership.

Mr. Guaidó said Mr. López doesn’t call the shots, he does.

Several prominent members of Popular Will have quit the party this month, saying privately they could no longer contend with Mr. López’s heavy hand and the party’s policies, which they saw as damaging the opposition. But some said they still see Mr. López as a victim, drawn to extreme measures by an authoritarian regime that has kept him locked up and closed off hopes for democratic transition.

Mr. Guaidó said some of his advisers met with the organizers of the failed raid early last year to evaluate strategies for an incursion. He said, however, that his advisers cut off contact nearly six months before the raid took place over what he said were disagreements over strategy.

Party leaders said that by October 2019, operation planning had been infiltrated by Venezuelan intelligence operatives. Some in the party reported details of the infiltration to U.S. and Colombian officials that month.

“It wasn’t just infiltrated, but it was an operation financed by the dictatorship,” Mr. Guaidó said in a videoconference last month. “The only one served by that operation was the Maduro regime.”

Popular Will members say that their party has favored negotiations and initiated talks overseen by Norway in 2019 that later faltered. Mr. Guaidó has frequently said the problem is the regime, which he said negotiates in bad faith.

Officials in the Trump administration said the operation in May hasn’t hurt Mr. Guaidó or the opposition—and that it could have been a false flag organized by Mr. Maduro’s regime to score propaganda points. Administration officials have denied any involvement or knowledge of the raid.

The raid “was big news for a couple of days and then faded, and has had no lasting impact on U.S. policy or on the Venezuelan democratic opposition,” said Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special representative for Venezuela. “This is largely because there are so many unanswered questions about regime involvement in conceiving, financing and pushing forward the entire operation.”

In his new book on the Trump White House, former national security adviser John Bolton said the president openly doubted whether Mr. Guaidó had the heft to challenge Mr. Maduro. By spring 2019, he wrote, “Trump was calling Guaidó the ‘Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,’ hardly the sort of compliment an ally of the United States should expect.”

Mr. Trump thought invading Venezuela would be “cool,” and ordered him to look into military options, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Bolton and others said a military option was a non-starter and successfully dissuaded him, he wrote.

Mr. Trump told the Journal in an interview that Mr. Bolton “is a liar.”

In 2019, while some leaders in the Venezuelan opposition and diplomats pursued negotiations with Mr. Maduro to win the right for free and fair elections, Mr. López and his closest aides shopped around for a security firm without having alerted politicians in other anti-Maduro parties, said people involved in the planning and other opposition leaders. Though they heard pitches from various contractors, opposition figures close to Messrs. Guaidó and López said the meetings rarely went beyond informal conversations.

“If one of these proposals had been viable, we would have taken that option immediately,” said an opposition figure close to the two men. “We have no ethical problem with getting rid of Nicolás Maduro.”

By late spring last year, several close friends of Mr. López and members of his party were plotting with Jordan Goudreau, a U.S. Army war veteran and owner of the SilverCorp USA security firm in Florida, and a former Venezuelan general who had relocated to Colombia, Cliver Alcala. They were training a ragtag force of Venezuelans who had deserted the armed forces to camps in northeastern Colombia, not far from Venezuela.

In October, a senior Guaidó aide and Popular Will official signed a contract with Mr. Goudreau to unseat Mr. Maduro and replace him with Mr. Guaidó, under whose government the American mercenary would work as defense adviser, according to the contract.

Associates of Mr. López introduced Messrs. Alcala and Goudreau to other opposition leaders in several meetings in Bogotá, where they sought between $2 million and $7 million from the opposition leaders to finance a raid, according to people familiar with the talks.

Toward the end of the year, opposition figures said, it became clear the plan wasn’t viable because it underestimated the regime’s military defenses and there were too few volunteer fighters. The opposition didn’t pay Mr. Goudreau the hundreds of thousands of dollars he said he wanted, giving him only $50,000 for expenses before cutting all ties by late 2019.

Mr. Goudreau, who was in Florida at the time of the operation, hasn’t said why he ordered the mission to go forward in early May, as he has publicly acknowledged. He didn’t respond to requests seeking comment for this article.

Opposition leaders now say it was a mistake for Popular Will members to sit down with mercenaries.

“They were the ones who legitimized Goudreau and the idea of this whole operation,” said one who had been tracking mission-planning in Bogotá. “Let’s hope there are no other rogue actions in the future.”

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40 minutes ago, SaintsInDome2006 said:

For any so interested:

******

Venezuelan Opposition Guru Led Planning to Topple Maduro

Leopoldo López and allies shopped for mercenaries before failed attempt to overthrow regime

BOGOTÁ, Colombia—The politically influential mentor of U.S.-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was behind a months long effort to contract mercenaries to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to several people involved in the planning.

Leopoldo López, founder of Mr. Guaidó’s former political party, and other allies considered at least six proposals from private security contractors to carry out military incursions to spur a rebellion in Venezuela’s armed forces and topple the authoritarian president, these people told The Wall Street Journal.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

One of the contractors was eventually involved in an attempted incursion in May that was over almost before it began, ending with eight of the mercenaries killed and nearly 50 detained, including two former U.S. soldiers, all of whom are still being held in a Caracas prison.

Mr. Maduro emerged triumphant and his political adversaries have been left fractured, demoralized and lacking a clear strategy. Some foreign allies of the opposition say Mr. Guaidó and his associates should have stuck to negotiations with the Maduro regime and are now questioning their support for the opposition leader.

“Guaidó has damaged his democratic credentials,” said a high-ranking European diplomat who has worked on Venezuela policy. “He gives the impression he’s trying to ride two horses, one on the negotiating track and one more on the coup d’état track.”

Mr. Guaidó and associates of Mr. López have said the May raid was the work of the Maduro regime and that they had cut off contact last year with the group that carried it out.

Most Venezuelans revile Mr. Maduro for the country’s devastating economic meltdown, with only 13% supporting him in a May poll by Caracas firm Datanalisis.

But Mr. Guaidó hasn’t been able to capitalize. His support has eroded steadily from the 61% he enjoyed in January 2019, when the opposition proclaimed him president in a direct challenge to Mr. Maduro. The U.S. and more than 50 countries recognized Mr. Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Mr. Guaidó saw his approval fall to 25%—its lowest point yet—in May after the failed plot, according to the Datanalisis poll. Venezuelans are now overwhelmingly pessimistic a transition will take place.

“He started as a sort of a Venezuelan version of Obama,” Datanalisis Director Luis Vicente León said of Mr. Guaidó. “Now the people just don’t believe him. When you lose the hope for change, you also lose your capacity to ask people for sacrifice.”

Within the fractious coalition of opposition parties, much of the blame is now being directed at Mr. López, a 49-year-old Harvard-educated politician and former political prisoner from one of Venezuela’s most prominent families.

For years, he has advocated direct action to remove Mr. Maduro—from a series of protests in 2014 that turned violent to an attempt to spur an uprising in the military ranks last year—often clashing over strategy with other prominent regime foes.

In 2018, after Mr. Maduro was re-elected in a vote widely seen as fraudulent, Mr. López expressed the view that negotiations and the electoral route would take too much time, said a person who spoke with him about strategy.

“He was very concerned that unless something was done soon, then the Venezuelan people would end up like the Cuban people, absolutely passive and broken and unable to mount a defense of themselves,” said the person, who is familiar with the dynamics in the opposition and U.S. policy.

Mr. López couldn’t comment for this article because he can’t speak publicly as part of an agreement with Spain. Now living in the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas, where he is protected from arrest, he remains a powerful political force with influence over Mr. Guaidó, providing leadership on matters ranging from regime change to overhauling the oil industry, opposition activists said.

“One of the biggest errors that the opposition has committed is getting behind Leopoldo López,” said Humberto Calderon-Berti, who served as Mr. Guaidó’s envoy to Colombia until a public spat with Mr. López last year. “In the end, he’s only damaging Guaidó. There has to be a rectification of the strategy, the leadership.”

Mr. Calderon-Berti said he advised opposition parties last year to avoid engaging Venezuelan military defectors to attempt to oust Mr. Maduro, fearing violence would alienate the opposition’s international alliances. Mr. Calderon-Berti isn’t a member of Popular Will, the party that was founded by Mr. López and was Mr. Guaidó’s path to leadership.

Mr. Guaidó said Mr. López doesn’t call the shots, he does.

Several prominent members of Popular Will have quit the party this month, saying privately they could no longer contend with Mr. López’s heavy hand and the party’s policies, which they saw as damaging the opposition. But some said they still see Mr. López as a victim, drawn to extreme measures by an authoritarian regime that has kept him locked up and closed off hopes for democratic transition.

Mr. Guaidó said some of his advisers met with the organizers of the failed raid early last year to evaluate strategies for an incursion. He said, however, that his advisers cut off contact nearly six months before the raid took place over what he said were disagreements over strategy.

Party leaders said that by October 2019, operation planning had been infiltrated by Venezuelan intelligence operatives. Some in the party reported details of the infiltration to U.S. and Colombian officials that month.

“It wasn’t just infiltrated, but it was an operation financed by the dictatorship,” Mr. Guaidó said in a videoconference last month. “The only one served by that operation was the Maduro regime.”

Popular Will members say that their party has favored negotiations and initiated talks overseen by Norway in 2019 that later faltered. Mr. Guaidó has frequently said the problem is the regime, which he said negotiates in bad faith.

Officials in the Trump administration said the operation in May hasn’t hurt Mr. Guaidó or the opposition—and that it could have been a false flag organized by Mr. Maduro’s regime to score propaganda points. Administration officials have denied any involvement or knowledge of the raid.

The raid “was big news for a couple of days and then faded, and has had no lasting impact on U.S. policy or on the Venezuelan democratic opposition,” said Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special representative for Venezuela. “This is largely because there are so many unanswered questions about regime involvement in conceiving, financing and pushing forward the entire operation.”

In his new book on the Trump White House, former national security adviser John Bolton said the president openly doubted whether Mr. Guaidó had the heft to challenge Mr. Maduro. By spring 2019, he wrote, “Trump was calling Guaidó the ‘Beto O’Rourke of Venezuela,’ hardly the sort of compliment an ally of the United States should expect.”

Mr. Trump thought invading Venezuela would be “cool,” and ordered him to look into military options, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Bolton and others said a military option was a non-starter and successfully dissuaded him, he wrote.

Mr. Trump told the Journal in an interview that Mr. Bolton “is a liar.”

In 2019, while some leaders in the Venezuelan opposition and diplomats pursued negotiations with Mr. Maduro to win the right for free and fair elections, Mr. López and his closest aides shopped around for a security firm without having alerted politicians in other anti-Maduro parties, said people involved in the planning and other opposition leaders. Though they heard pitches from various contractors, opposition figures close to Messrs. Guaidó and López said the meetings rarely went beyond informal conversations.

“If one of these proposals had been viable, we would have taken that option immediately,” said an opposition figure close to the two men. “We have no ethical problem with getting rid of Nicolás Maduro.”

By late spring last year, several close friends of Mr. López and members of his party were plotting with Jordan Goudreau, a U.S. Army war veteran and owner of the SilverCorp USA security firm in Florida, and a former Venezuelan general who had relocated to Colombia, Cliver Alcala. They were training a ragtag force of Venezuelans who had deserted the armed forces to camps in northeastern Colombia, not far from Venezuela.

In October, a senior Guaidó aide and Popular Will official signed a contract with Mr. Goudreau to unseat Mr. Maduro and replace him with Mr. Guaidó, under whose government the American mercenary would work as defense adviser, according to the contract.

Associates of Mr. López introduced Messrs. Alcala and Goudreau to other opposition leaders in several meetings in Bogotá, where they sought between $2 million and $7 million from the opposition leaders to finance a raid, according to people familiar with the talks.

Toward the end of the year, opposition figures said, it became clear the plan wasn’t viable because it underestimated the regime’s military defenses and there were too few volunteer fighters. The opposition didn’t pay Mr. Goudreau the hundreds of thousands of dollars he said he wanted, giving him only $50,000 for expenses before cutting all ties by late 2019.

Mr. Goudreau, who was in Florida at the time of the operation, hasn’t said why he ordered the mission to go forward in early May, as he has publicly acknowledged. He didn’t respond to requests seeking comment for this article.

Opposition leaders now say it was a mistake for Popular Will members to sit down with mercenaries.

“They were the ones who legitimized Goudreau and the idea of this whole operation,” said one who had been tracking mission-planning in Bogotá. “Let’s hope there are no other rogue actions in the future.”

 

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Thanks, a lot of people said we were Russian propagandists for saying it was a coup.  Juan Guaido is a coup leader.  Good to be vindicated, I’m sure people who falsely tarred us as Kremlin agents will be right around to apologize and admit they were wrong.  

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Guidó could be a coup leader and Maduro could still be a narcotrafficing dictator of a failed state and you could also be a Kremlin apologist and propagandist.  These are not mutually exclusive.

Guidó messed this up pretty good.  It's not that I don't care who topples the Maduro regime, as there aren't going many worse than their current "leaders".

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On 2/24/2019 at 2:21 PM, Slapdash said:

This isn't a US inspired coup and the US did not cause this crisis in Venezuela.  

 

On 3/4/2019 at 12:19 PM, Slapdash said:

Trump's coup is getting pretty intense 

 

On 3/13/2019 at 6:24 PM, Slapdash said:

They just blame the imaginary US coup on it.

Senator Chris Murphy, Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "In April 2019, we tried to organize a kind of coup"

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18 minutes ago, ren hoek said:

 

 

Senator Chris Murphy, Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "In April 2019, we tried to organize a kind of coup"

Pretty epic failure all around.  The people of Venezuela are still suffering under a brutal dictator.  @ren hoek, how should the US help the people of Venezuela?

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5 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

Pretty epic failure all around.  The people of Venezuela are still suffering under a brutal dictator.  @ren hoek, how should the US help the people of Venezuela?

Very sad.  Maduro is not a dictator.  End the sanctions, lobby Bank of England to restore gold holdings to Caracas, stop financing/strategizing rightwing freakshow opposition party, fire Elliott Abrams, recognize that Maduro (whether they like him or not) is the elected leader of Venezuela and restore full diplomatic ties (no more naval encroachment in international waters, allow legitimate govt access to the VZ embassy again).  Stop funding softpower NGOs like NED and OAS to create pretext for regime change.  In other words, just treat them like neutral partners.  

Oil, resources, money, power, exploitation, coups, it's the same script again and again.  

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Max Blumenthal @MaxBlumenthal

The US ordered the opposition it backed to boycott the election to make it seem fraudulent. It even threatened Henri Falcon w/ sanctions for participating. Spain's ex-prez Zapatero judged the election free & fair. Guaido was obscure & stood ready to restore ExxonMobil's control.

Behold the Biden administration's strategy on Venezuela: a smarter, more sensitive attempt at sabotaging an elected socialist government, and all based on the same series of childlike delusions and imperial ignorance that animated the Trump administration's failures.

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2 hours ago, ren hoek said:

Very sad.  Maduro is not a dictator.  End the sanctions, lobby Bank of England to restore gold holdings to Caracas, stop financing/strategizing rightwing freakshow opposition party, fire Elliott Abrams, recognize that Maduro (whether they like him or not) is the elected leader of Venezuela and restore full diplomatic ties (no more naval encroachment in international waters, allow legitimate govt access to the VZ embassy again).  Stop funding softpower NGOs like NED and OAS to create pretext for regime change.  In other words, just treat them like neutral partners.  

Oil, resources, money, power, exploitation, coups, it's the same script again and again.  

I'm down with the bolded.  However, I do not believe that the last election was legitimate, nor free and fair.  However, I can see the US resuming diplomatic relations with VZLA without saying that Maduro was legitimately elected.  Lots of countries don't have free and fair elections and the US recognizes the government in power.

The VZLA economny is wrecked and its people are starving.  The root cause is not the US, but rather the kleptocractic, inept, and corrupt regime in power.  Until that regime is no longer skimming narco money to fund their anti-democratic behaviors and opulent lifestyles, the people will be impoverished while those around them flourish.

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53 minutes ago, The Z Machine said:

I'm down with the bolded.  However, I do not believe that the last election was legitimate, nor free and fair.  However, I can see the US resuming diplomatic relations with VZLA without saying that Maduro was legitimately elected.  Lots of countries don't have free and fair elections and the US recognizes the government in power.

The VZLA economny is wrecked and its people are starving.  The root cause is not the US, but rather the kleptocractic, inept, and corrupt regime in power.  Until that regime is no longer skimming narco money to fund their anti-democratic behaviors and opulent lifestyles, the people will be impoverished while those around them flourish.

 100% agree.  I mean, that's Socialism in a nutshell.  That's not news.  Everyone knew it was going to end like this.

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1 hour ago, BladeRunner said:

 100% agree.  I mean, that's Socialism in a nutshell.  That's not news.  Everyone knew it was going to end like this.

No, not really.

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