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The US hybrid war on Venezuela has now entered a hot phase.
On April 30, Juan Guaido, US-declared ‘Interim President’ of the country appeared in a video calling for a military uprising. Guaido, accompanied by heavily armed men, claimed that he had backing from the military and that the video was filmed at the Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda Air Base in the capital, Caracas.
Opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, who had been held under house arrest after “inciting violence” during the anti-government riots, appeared alongside Guaido. He claimed that he had been “released by the military”.
The US immediately declared its public support for the coup attempt at the highest level and once again threatened the country’s legitimate government with military action. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the actions of Guaido and his armed supporters a “quest for freedom and democracy”.
The US-backed coup attempt was branded “Operación Libertad” and received at least vocal support from leaders and officials of US Latin American allies. But something went wrong.
Despite the initial claims, Guaido supporters failed to establish control of the Francisco de Miranda Air Base. In the first half of the day, the main clashes between the rebels and the country’s National Guard took place on the highway alongside the military facility and in the Altamira area. Both sides used tear gas and in some cases even opened live fire.
There was at least one incident when an armored vehicle supposedly belonging to the National Guard loyal to the government rammed into a crowd injuring at least one. The incident took place after a group of rioters attacked a National Guard detachment.
Meanwhile, the country’s President Nicolas Maduro called on his supporters to mobilize. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez reaffirmed that the Armed Forces reject the US-proclaimed president. Samuel Moncada, the ambassador to the UN, described the situation as an “attempt by foreign powers to spark a civil war.” The government characterised armed service members supporting Guaido as “a small group of traitors”, reinforced security measures across the capital and warned that the army would resort to force if necessary.
Measures were undertaken to take off air or limit access to local and international media outlets endorsing the coup.
By the evening, rioters and defectors had been expelled from the airbase’s gates, but clashes with the sporadic use of fire arms continued across the capital. Rioters, including armed ones, marched towards the Palacio de Miraflores, the official workplace of the real president, but lacked resources to storm it. Low-scale riots also took place in various provinces.
All this came amid speculations by US officials that “democracy” was about to achieve victory and Maduro was ready to flee the country to Russia. This did not happen. This round of the coup attempt failed because of the lack of support from the local population.
According to reports, the number of soldiers and security officers who defected to Guaido is around 80. Up to 100 people were injured as a result of the April 30 clashes in Caracas. Around 70 people were detained by the authorities.
Guaido announced a new round of protests to overthrow Maduro on May 1. It appears that Guaido and his supporters will be not able to seize power without direct foreign support. Such support may come in the form of an open or a silent US-led invasion under some formal pretext. Just recently, data leaked to the media that Erik Prince had pitched an idea to deploy some 5,000 mercenaries to support the coup against the Venezuelan government.