To coup or not to coup?
Was there an attempted coup in Venezuela, or is it, as the US media is hinting (when not saying out loud) simply a crackdown on dissidents?
Counterpunch publishes two views, by Gloria la Riva and Chris Gilbert, both countering the “official” (U.S.) story. La Riva (“The Foiling of a Coup Plot in Venezuela“) comes across as an apologist for the present administration in Caracas, accepting the government story. Gilbert (“The Coup d’Etat Attempt in Venezuela“) is somewhat skeptical of the official spin, but does conclude there was a coup plot, and that while some of the more prominent right-wing dissidents may not have been involved in the actual planning, all the signs are the government was right to suspect them of complicity.
While I don’t see the present administration in Caracas as particularly skilled, and Nicolas Maduro is no Hugo Chavez (but then, who is?), it is the legitimate government, and not particularly “authoritarian” other than it tends to limit the scope of the rich to exploit the poor, as opposed to “libertarian” governments that simply deny the poor their human rights. And, when you come down to it, when was “authoritarianism” ever a rationale for foreign intervention, or subverting the democratic process, anyway.
If there were not a coup d’etat underway, someone would have to invent one to rally the masses. That may be the case for the Venezuelan government today, which is beset with so many problems, and it is one of the reasons that some people are incredulous about the latest claim of President Nicolás Maduro to be victim of a planned coup attempt. Nevertheless, there was real evidence presented two weeks ago of a conspiracy in the ranks of the Venezuelan Air Force. In fact, there are three important elements: real evidence, real informers and, fortunately, real arrests.
What about the U.S. government’s possible hand in this recently discovered plot? It should be remembered that many coups against popular, left-leaning regimes are not conceived in CIA laboratories but are rather supported opportunistically by the U.S. government and its agencies
The possibility of a military coup followed by hurried elections – a two-stage overthrow – could be what is behind the U.S. driven media campaign against Venezuela that has unfolded in recent weeks and involves extravagant claims about government figures running an international drug trafficking ring. Such a plan was also pointed to in words that recently escaped from Julio Borges of the opposition party Primero Justicia. When asked on Unión Radio how he would respond to a coup, Borges responded that, instead of working to restore the constitutional order, his party would “immediately call for elections.” This brings to mind the Honduras transition of 2009 in which a coup d’etat that installed a brief and unpopular military government was followed by the fraudulent election of Porfirio Lobo.