CARACAS, VENEZUELA — At first, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido was characterized by the mainstream media as the eighth wonder of the world. But now, after his failed military revolt, it seems ‘Coupbama’ (as Guaido is known) is being treated more harshly by the press.
In the immediate aftermath of the attempted military coup, the mainstream media launched into a defense of the maneuver, admonishing anti-war activists and intellectuals alike for correctly identifying it as a coup attempt. The Daily Beast declared that “John Bolton is right,” it wasn’t a coup; Al Día, a Philadelphia-based news outlet focused on the experience of Latinos in the U.S., called it a “civic-military rebellion;” and Bloomberg and the Miami Herald ran op-eds to similar effect.
Guaido declared that the military coup was the “final phase” of “Operation Liberty” during a video recorded of him standing next to about a dozen armed soldiers. But after CNN’s Fareed Zakaria pointed out to Guaido’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlos Vecchio, that “nothing really happened that day,” Vecchio explained: “This is a process. This is an ongoing process. It’s not a single event. So we are moving forward in order to conquer freedom.”
Despite Vecchio’s obvious misspeaking about conquering freedom, the quote is revealing as an it attempts to maintain support for the flailing coup. As Morning Call writes:
[The] failed military uprising and a spate of violent but fruitless demonstrations have some wondering if Guaido, and the opposition at large, have what it takes to oust Maduro and end 20 years of single-party rule.”
It also notes that polls show Guaido’s support in decline, as he has failed to deliver any tangible accomplishments to the opposition. Even the New York Times conceded that “the protests that filled the streets with Mr. Guaidó’s supporters are dwindling.” And the failed April 30 coup follows a long list of other provocations, including the failed attempt to have U.S. “humanitarian aid” cross the border into Venezuela from Colombia.
Now Guaido, unable to shore up enough support domestically to overthrow the government, is trying to appeal to the Pentagon.
#Venezuela: following instructions of Interim President @jguaido, we officially requested the @Southcom a meeting with a technical delegation to advance in strategic and operational planning with the priority goal of stopping our people's suffering and restoring democracy. pic.twitter.com/x3ckEn39cM
— CARLOS VECCHIO (@carlosvecchio) May 13, 2019
“If the Americans were to propose a military intervention I would probably accept it,” Guaido recently told Italian media. Indeed, Vecchio was to meet with U.S. Southern Command on Monday but reports indicate that the meeting failed to come to fruition.
Sources: #Venezuela envoy Carlos Vecchio's much awaited Southcom visit Monday to discuss "restoring our democracy" with U.S. admiral in charge of military ops in Lat Am was nixed after U.S. officials conclude Southcom not the "correct entry point" for such talks.
— Jose de Cordoba (@Jose_deCordoba) May 20, 2019
Later, Vecchio tweeted that he would be meeting instead with the State Department and Pentagon jointly.
Negotiation option suddenly on table
While the U.S. contends that “all options are on the table,” the media is starting to take notice of Guaido’s repeated failures. The LA Times wrote “U.S.-Guaido strategy flops again: Is this working?” On Wednesday, the Washington Post characterized the attempted military coup as an “abortive uprising” and a “failure.” Slate ran with the headline: “A Reality Check for Venezuela.” An article published by the Times on Tuesday characterized Guaido as “deflated” in its headline, which has since been altered.
Flashback to January after Guaido declared himself president, when outlets like TIME — which have since named Guaido one of the most important people of the year — were writing things like “Guaido is reviving a deflated opposition movement.”
Initially, the opposition showed total unwillingness to engage in any kind of negotiations with the government. Vecchio told Bloomberg in January:
We’re not willing to participate in any dialogue of the type Maduro is interested in, and the only thing we will accept in our agenda is how we will negotiate his exit.”
Guaido too has rejected a number of mediation offers, including from Mexico, Uruguay, the European Union and Russia. Now, emissaries from the opposition and the Maduro government are meeting in Norway for talks. Simultaneously pursuing U.S. military intervention and now agreeing to talks, it appears that all options are also on the opposition’s table.
Feature photo | Self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido arrives to give a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, May 9, 2019. Fernando Llano | AP
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.