Bolton stood by his comments about Venezuela, saying that Washington’s support for coup plots was “necessary to protect [US] interests.”
José Luis Granados Ceja
Venezuelanalysis.com | July 18, 2022
Mexico City, Mexico, July 18, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan National Assembly unanimously condemned recent comments by former US National Security Advisor John Bolton where he boasted about his involvement in coup plots against the government of Nicolás Maduro.
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Bolton claimed he “helped plan coups d’etat” and when pressed for an example, pointed to his chapter on Venezuela in his book The Room Where It Happened.
Bolton, who served as the top national security official under Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019, detailed in the book his efforts to oust Maduro in concert with the US-backed Venezuelan opposition.
“As someone who has helped plan coups d’Etat, not here but in other places, it takes a lot of work,” Bolton told Tapper, dismissing the notion that the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots in Washington DC were a “coup.”
“The notion that Trump was half as competent as the Venezuelan opposition is laughable,” he added.
“Coups d’état, plans, financing, support and advice to overthrow governments, the assassinations of presidents and invasion of countries and the waging of legal wars [all] have the seal of support and financing of the Government of the United States,” said Venezuelan lawmaker Pedro Infante, who introduced the motion on Thursday.
The statement also condemned recent comments made by Carrie Filipetti, who served as deputy assistant secretary for Cuba and Venezuela at the US Department of State during the Trump administration. In an interview with the BBC, Filipetti confessed that the Trump administration had misread the situation in Venezuela, underestimating support for Maduro, but nonetheless reiterated her support for the White House’s “maximum pressure” policy.
In an interview Friday with Newsmax, Bolton doubled down on his comments about Venezuela, saying that Washington’s support for coup plots were “necessary to protect [US] interests.”
During Bolton’s tenure as Trump’s National Security Advisor, in addition to the imposition of punishing economic sanctions and an oil embargo, the US government embraced Juan Guaidó as the so-called “interim president” of Venezuela and mobilized diplomatic support for the opposition’s coup effort, securing the support of numerous countries for Guaidó’s claim.
US politicians on both sides of the aisle have maintained that their bipartisan backing of the so-called “interim presidency” stems from their support for democracy. However, Bolton’s comments classifying US support for Venezuela’s hardline opposition as a “coup” belies that justification.
Although the Venezuelan opposition’s long standing cooperation with US officials is well established, Bolton’s chapter on his efforts to trigger regime change in Venezuela served to detail the thinking behind the coup plots. The former Trump advisor writes of his enthusiasm for the so-called “humanitarian aid” spectacle organized on the Colombo-Venezuelan border on February 23, 2019. The delivery of so-called aid was widely billed as an effort to bring relief to the Venezuelan people. However, in his book, Bolton revealed that the scheme was indeed an effort to try to embarrass Maduro, as Venezuelan government officials had denounced.
Bolton furthermore appeared to confuse the events of that day with a previous plot. Maduro accused Bolton of being behind the attempt on his life in August 2018 where two explosive-laden drones exploded close to the presidential stage during a public speech. In an interview with Max Blumenthal, the Venezuelan president said he had proof of the hawkish official’s involvement.
Bolton’s boast that he helped plan coups appears to also be a reference to the April 30, 2019 coup attempt by Guaidó, wherein he and other prominent hardline opposition figures called for the Venezuelan military to rebel against the president. The coup attempt faltered in less than a day after only a small handful of soldiers and officials broke with the Constitution and the chain of command.
Bolton’s departure from the White House in late 2019 did not spell the end of Washington’s efforts to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Former US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper revealed in his memoir that the Trump administration openly considered a military invasion of Venezuela, going so far as to discuss the plot with opposition figures.
Esper wrote that based on Guaidó’s responses in a February 5, 2020 visit to the White House, he concluded that the opposition was willing to embrace US support for an invasion of Venezuela from Colombia using US-trained mercenaries, but that the opposition leader was more interested in having US troops directly invade instead.
Months after the meeting at the White House with Guaidó, Venezuela foiled “Operation Gideon,” an effort by a 60-man paramilitary force organized by US special operations veteran Jordan Goudreau and retired Venezuelan Major General Cliver Alcalá to infiltrate the country with the aim of assassinating Maduro.
Despite two high-level delegations to Caracas this year, US President Joe Biden has largely maintained Trump’s strategy toward Venezuela, continuing to recognize Guaidó as “interim president” and only offering piecemeal sanctions relief.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.