Authorities believe the cache was sent from Miami, Florida, a city notorious as a nexus of Pink Wave emigres and a major throughway in the international black-market arms trade.
VALENCIA, VENEZUELA — Venezuelan authorities discovered a cache of weapons and ammunition from the United States and are investigating the intended recipient as the country faces a coup attempt backed by Washington.
According to Endes Palencia, Venezuela’s Deputy Minister for Prevention and Citizen Security, the Venezuelan National Guard and the National Integrated Service of Customs and Tax Administration made the discovery at the Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia, Venezuela.
In total, some 19 rifles, 118 magazines, 90 radios and six cell phones were uncovered inside a commercial cargo plane.
— MPPRIJP (@MIJPVenezuela) February 5, 2019
U.S. military intervention still on table
On Sunday, President Donald Trump refused to draw red lines for the Venezuelan government, as President Barack Obama had disastrously done with Syria and chemical weapons. Trump didn’t take military intervention off the table, however. “Certainly it’s something that’s on the — it’s an option,” he told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
Trump refuses to draw red lines with Venezuela but calls US military intervention "an option" just two days before a cache of automatic rifles believed to have been sent from Miami were discovered by Venezuelan authorities. pic.twitter.com/K9VSsbqPxB
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) February 6, 2019
Officials in Venezuela slammed Trump in response. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez indicated that her country stands ready to defend itself, saying “sovereignty is not discussed, it is defended.”
“We are always ready to fend off an attack,” Rodriguez added.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza also fired back, tweeting:
Donald Trump confirms that he is at the forefront of the coup, threatening again to use military force, violating the Charter of the United Nations. … The Venezuelan opposition is controlled by Trump.”
✔118 cargadores de fusil
✔4 porta fusil
✔3 miras para fusil
✔90 antenas de radio
✔6 teléfonos fueron hallados en el patio de almacenamiento del aeropuerto de Valencia los cuales ingresaron al país el #3Feb en el Air Bus N881YV procedente de Miami,EEUU #5Feb pic.twitter.com/5wnBFnxaFt
— GD Endes Palencia Ortiz (@PalenciaEndes) February 5, 2019
The non-military military option
While a military option may be appealing to war-hawks like National Security Advisor John Bolton, it is not a necessary condition for a full-fledged regime-change operation. While many countries have had some official presence on the ground in Syria, the overwhelming majority of the fighters in the country were foreign proxies supplied with foreign weapons — both of which came into Syria through supply lines in NATO-aligned Turkey and Jordan.
Last year, Venezuela’s neighbor, Colombia, joined NATO as a “global partner” — meaning, according to then-President Juan Manuel Santos, that it will be accredited at the headquarters in Brussels but will not be obligated to take part in military action like other NATO countries.
While the coup attempt currently underway is not the first time the U.S. has backed a regime-change plot in Venezuela this century (the U.S. backed an unsuccessful coup that temporarily deposed President Hugo Chavez in 2002), it’s also not the first time — if the authorities are correct — that U.S.-made guns have been discovered in transit from Miami to Venezuela. In 2017, the U.S. indicted five Venezuelans on charges related to illegal arms shipments from Miami.
Top Photo | Venezuelan authorities inspect a weapons cache recently smuggled into the Arturo Michelena International Airport in Valencia, Venezuela. Twitter | PalenciaEndes
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.