Venezuela criticizes Bolton’s coup statement

Venezuela’s National Assembly voted on Thursday to condemn comments by former US national security adviser John Bolton. Its leader, Jorge Rodriguez, called the apparent confession “an extraordinary feat of insolence”.

Rodriguez, a psychiatrist who frequently uses medical terms in political battles, also accused Bolton of being a “psychopath”.

In an interview on WednesdayBolton told CNN’s Jake Tupper that he “helped plan coups d’état – not here, but, you know, in other places.”

He was the Trump White House’s person in charge of handling the 2019 constitutional crisis in Venezuela, when a group of opposition politicians attempted to restore democracy to the country by forcibly toppling authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro.

Adding fuel to the suspicions in Caracas was the fact that Bolton’s remark, made casually during a discussion of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, was followed by a reference to Venezuela. He said that he wrote about the political crisis in Venezuela in his memoirs and that his actions there were ultimately unsuccessful.

Former Venezuelan cabinet minister Diosdado Cabello also responded, calling Bolton “inept, who, for all the money (former US President) Donald Trump gave him, failed to carry out the order he received.”

Unsuccessful mode change

In the early hours of April 30, 2019, opposition leader Guaidó, his political mentor Leopoldo López, and several Venezuelan army officials gathered near a military base, calling on the top leadership of the Venezuelan army to remove Maduro from power.

Within hours, the uprising was brutally crushed and Maduro’s power was restored. Yet more than 50 countries, including the United States, have pushed for Guaidó’s official recognition as the country’s legitimate leader, criticizing the elections that secured Maduro’s rule as undemocratic.

Maduro himself called the movement a coup attempt caused by “the obsessive efforts of the Venezuelan right, the Colombian oligarchy and the American empire.”

More than three years have passed since those crazy hours when Venezuela seemed to be on the brink of change. The US still does not recognize Maduro due to alleged human rights abuses by his government, but there has been no recent call to remove him from power.

Just last month, two White House officials met with Maduro in Caracas to negotiate the release of several US citizens detained in Venezuela in exchange for sanctions relief.