Juan Guaido on Tuesday at 4AM, flanked by soldiers who had deserted the Venezuelan army, attempted what looked like one last roll of the dice in his bid to overthrow the Maduro government.
Calling for a military uprising, Guaido announced in a pre-recorded address on twitter that “the time is now”, yet the military did not respond as he may have hoped.
Guaido had attempted to take the people and government of Venezuela by surprise in his early morning attempt at what the Maduro government called a usurpation of power.
Hugo Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, remains in power and appeared in a television address flanked by the Minister of Defense, and the military - he does not appear to be out of favour as yet.
The image of Maduro with hundreds of soldiers - an indication that he still has support within the military - stands in stark contrast to the tens of soldiers that flanked Guaido.
Estamos en marcha permanente por la Patria, con máxima moral para enfrentar las traiciones, desarmar las conspiraciones golpistas y cuidar la Paz de la República. pic.twitter.com/tKIvgRfg76— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) May 2, 2019
The ensuing rebellion that erupted on the streets of Caracas left at least one person dead.
Speaking to The Guardian, David Smilde a Venezuela expert from the Washington Office on Latin America said: “Clearly this was a failure in the sense that this left the opposition weaker than they were before.”
Juan Guaido’s dramatic attempt to oust Maduro ended like so many others, in failure and with the US went going into recrimination mode; blaming mostly the Cubans and the Russians for frustrating Washington’s designs.
History weighs heavily on foreign policy in the US, in particular in Latin America, which the US considers its sphere of influence and domination. The US has intervened more than 41 times in Latin American countries, either directly or by supporting coups.
Interestingly, Venezuela is one of three Latin American countries not to have encountered a successful American intervention, but not out of lack of trying by Washington.
Now almost two days after Guaido’s unsuccessful coup attempt, the self-proclaimed leader of Venezuela is struggling to maintain the momentum going.
Even as anti-Maduro protests have continued, they do not seem to be making headway.
Guaido’s longtime ally and mentor Leopoldo Lopez, in a surprise move, appeared alongside him earlier this week, previously having been held under house arrest. An indication that some of the soldiers that were detaining him had defected.
However in a blow Guaido’s ambitions to overthrow the Maduro government, Lopez fled the nascent uprising, seeking shelter at the Spanish Embassy in Caracas.
There will likely be ongoing and furious negotiations behind the scenes to convince members of the military, intelligence services and government to defect from Maduro. But after Tuesday’s failure, it may have just got harder for Guaido.
In the wings, the self-declared interim president can rely on US threats to increase pressure on Maduro’s inner circle. Mike Pompeo, the US Defense Secretary, has already declared that “military action is possible” if the Maduro government does not step down.
In a series of tweets, John Bolton threatened the Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Presidential Security Chief Ivan Hernandez, and Maikel Moreno the head of the Venezuelan Supreme Court.
“Your time is up. This is your last chance. Accept Interim President Guaido’s amnesty, protect the Constitution, and remove Maduro, and we will take you off our sanctions list. Stay with Maduro, and go down with the ship.”
This third attempt by Guido to oust Maduro seems to have failed, yet it is essential to remember that as the political crises in Venezuela drags on and the opposition with US backing seeks the downfall of the Venezuelan government, it’s the people that are suffering.