An attempt to depose the dictator appears to have failed. Try again!
Caracas, May 2.– April 30th, dawned promisingly in Venezuela. Juan Guaidó, acknowledged as the country’s interim president by many democracies and millions of Venezuelans, appeared outside an air-force base in Caracas flanked by national guardsmen to declare that the end of the dictatorship was imminent. By his side was a leader of the opposition, Leopoldo López, who had somehow been freed from house arrest. His presence, and that of the guards, suggested that Venezuela’s security forces were ready at last to withdraw their support for Nicolás Maduro, who has ruled his country catastrophically and brutally for the past six years.
Thus began two days of rumour, intrigue and violence (see article). As The Economist went to press the regime was still in charge and the generals were proclaiming their loyalty to it. Mr Maduro had appeared on television to declare that the “coup-mongering adventure” had failed. Yet this week’s events reveal that his hold on power is weaker than he claims. Mr Guaidó, the United States, which supports him, and the commanders of Venezuela’s security apparatus must work together to put an end to it.
That may well have been the plan. John Bolton, America’s national security adviser, said on April 30th that senior regime officials, including the defence minister and the commander of the presidential guard, had agreed to dump Mr Maduro and transfer power to Mr Guaidó. Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, later insisted that Mr Maduro had been worried enough to have a plane waiting to spirit him to Havana but was dissuaded by his Russian allies.
How true these claims are and what went wrong is uncertain. A letter on social media attributed to the general in charge of Venezuela’s intelligence service, who has abruptly left his job, gave Mr Bolton’s assertion some support ...