In Depth

Reaction: Donald Trump denies links to failed military coup in Venezuela

Two Americans reportedly arrested following ‘inept’ bid to overthrow Nicolas Maduro

Donald Trump has rejected any link to an alleged failed military operation in Venezuela that landed two US citizens in jail in the South American country.

Quizzed by White House reporters on Tuesday about the foiled “coup”, the US president said: “We just heard about it. But it has nothing to do with our government.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claims the two “American mercenaries” were part of an attempt by his political opponents to incite a rebellion or kill him, backed by neighbouring Colombia and the US.

According to Venezuelan authorities, 13 “terrorists” have been arrested following Sunday’s attempted incursion, during which eight people were killed.

Maduro has warned for years of foreign plots against his rule, “waving at the spectre of treacherous coups and imperialist invasions”, says The Washington Post.

Such “alarmism” has often served as a “smokescreen for his government’s failures”, but this time “Maduro may have a point”, adds the newspaper, pointing to footage being circulated on social media by the Venezuelan authorities that appears to show captured insurrectionists - including two former US special operations soldiers.

Allegations and denials aside, this apparent coup attempt is most notable for its idiocy, says New York Magazine.

“First there was ‘stupid Watergate’, such an evocative phrase that it was applied both to the Trump camp’s entanglements with Russia and the president’s attempts to leverage aid in Ukraine that eventually led to impeachment,” says the US publication. Now, the Trump era has brought us stupid Bay of Pigs.”

In a series of blunders, the suspected insurrectionists reportedly tweeted about their raid while it was in progress; tried to defeat a standing army of 340,000 with a force of just 62; and came dramatically underarmed, with the weapons subsequently confiscated by Venezuelan forces said to include an air rifle.

“Seasick and vomiting... the ragtag band of fighters’ plan to arrest Venezuela’s authoritarian government and free political prisoners collapsed before they hit shore,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, the whole episode smacks of “Bay of Pigs” meets “Keystone Cops”, tweets Brett McGurk, a former diplomat for both the Trump and Barack Obama administrations.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazineStart your trial subscription today–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Trump’s efforts to distance himself from the operation may also come unstuck.

The Washington Post reports that “a key figure behind the plot is Jordan Goudreau, a former US Green Beret who runs Silvercorp USA, a Florida-based private security firm”. 

Silvercorp provided security for the president’s rallies in 2018, as shown in a now-deleted Instagram picture that was screengrabbed by Vice News. The image appears to have been taken backstage at Trump’s October 2018 rally in Charlotte, and was captioned “Protecting our Greatest Assets”.

For Maduro, the whole incident “is a welcome distraction”, says the Post, which notes that “tanking oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic have put him under even greater pressure”.

That view is shared by former senior US diplomat Eric Farnsworth, now vice president of the Council of the Americas. 

Unpicking Maduro’s “convenient narrative”, Farnsworth asks: “What better way to rally a country that’s flat on its back than to expose an invasion from the empire?”

Recommended

‘I will fix it’: Boris Johnson’s text to Sir James Dyson over tax issue
Sir James Dyson
Behind the scenes

‘I will fix it’: Boris Johnson’s text to Sir James Dyson over tax issue

Oscars predictions 2021: who will win the top awards?
Nomadland stars Frances McDormand
In Depth

Oscars predictions 2021: who will win the top awards?

How the world reported the conviction of Derek Chauvin
A march through Minneapolis after the guilty verdict
Global lens

How the world reported the conviction of Derek Chauvin

‘Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio’

Popular articles

What is Donald Trump doing now?
Donald Trump
In Depth

What is Donald Trump doing now?

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 21 April 2021

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?