By Mark Honey
A rebel Venezuelan military faction that attempted to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro in early August also recently met with a US diplomat. The faction, which numbered in the hundreds, was seeking help from the US in overthrowing the Venezuelan government.
The rebels wanted material aid in the form of encrypted radio systems, as well as help planning details of the coup, The New York Times reports.
At a celebration of the Bolivarian Revolution’s 81st anniversary, two drones exploded 600 feet away from the podium where Maduro spoke. Shortly after, several military members were arrested in connection with the attempt. A Venezuelan general speaking with The New York Times said these arrests stopped the faction from continuing.
The United States has a long history of meddling in Latin American affairs. Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Cuba, and more have all faced interference from US military or intelligence services like the CIA and FBI. For example, Chile suffered a coup in 1973 by a pro-capitalist military general supported by the US and Brazil. In 1961, the CIA and President Kennedy launched the infamous and poorly-executed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
News of US contact with the would-be assassins predictably went over poorly with many in the region. President Evo Morales of Bolivia said, “The U.S. is the real threat to humankind,” in response to the country’s overseas aggression. Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada called the attempt on Maduro’s life “un atentado contra el Gobierno de Nicaragua” – an attack against the government of Nicaragua.
Several US senators appeared to know about the meetings, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has previously suggested military action in Venezuela. Rubio tweeted, “The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator,” in February.
Venezuela’s elections have repeatedly been touted as some of the fairest and most reliable in the world. The Latin American Council of Electoral Experts, a voting watchdog group, recently called the system “the best in Latin America.” Thirty-seven parties — most opposition formations — are running in the country’s December elections. Despite this, the US government considers the Venezuelan government illegitimate.