On Wednesday, June 27, Bloomberg published an important article, which reveals important details about the current climate within the Venezuelan military. It outlines the existence of a pre-election plot to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro, and also reveals that key opposition leader, María Corina Machado, is viewed favorably within the ranks of the Venezuelan military.
Machado is little known outside of Venezuela, but has been a powerful force in the Venezuelan opposition for some time. The article may help to explain why Maduro has recently ratcheted up the pressure on her, and her Vente Venezuela and Soy Venezuela political movements.
According to Bloomberg, “a person with extensive knowledge of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, ensures that surveys conducted by the intelligence service found that Machado has an especially high approval rating among officers.”
If of all the players in the opposition, María Corina Machado is the one who enjoys the greatest approval, respect, and support among the military; this shows why the regime is determined to link her with a supposed military conspiracy whose alleged objective was to assassinate Nicolás Maduro.
It is an attempt, as Machado herself told Bloomberg, to silence her through imprisonment or exile. Others suggest that she might be assassinated by the regime. Now the Chavista regime has even further reason to suspect that Machado could be a viable leader of a strengthened opposition, or even win the presidency of Venezuela some day.
Bloomberg also reports that on the eve of the widely condemned elections of May 20, a major military conspiracy was aimed at overthrowing Maduro, kidnapping him, and putting him on trial.
Members of the Venezuelan military allegedly called it “Operation Constitution.” It involved “dozens of captains, colonels, and generals of the four branches of the Venezuelan Armed Forces.”
“The objective was direct and seismic: to capture President Nicolás Maduro and bring him to trial. The conspirators, with blue armbands marked with “OC”, were supposed to assault the Presidential Palace and the main military base and prevent the presidential elections of May 20.”
Bloomberg also asserts that part of the planning stages of the plot took place in Bogotá. There has been discussion about the involvement of Colombian and American officials, but it appears that they were not involved in the plot.
Operation Constitution was gearing up for execution.
“Then something went wrong. In mid-May, several dozen soldiers, including a woman, as well as a couple of civilians, were secretly arrested – some accused of treason – and imprisoned by a military court,” according to information gleaned from legal documents filed by the Venezuelan military.
Bloomberg was able to piece together the details of the conspiracy, thanks to interviews with a conspiracy coordinator who escaped, family members of the military members involved, some of the plotters, and some lawyers representing the defendants. “Everyone spoke on condition of anonymity.”
This would have been the greatest threat Maduro has had in his five years as leader of the Chavista Venezuela. Maduro has good reason to be extremely concerned, as the political and economic situations continue to collapse around him.
Though he was never a military man, Maduro has worked extremely hard to win the loyalty of Venezuela’s Armed Forces, and has given them key levers of power in the economy: particularly in regard to the oil industry and food distribution.
He has a small army of Cuban intelligence officers who are constantly monitoring threats, and have already succeeded in foiling several plots. Maduro also systematically and periodically reviews the ranks of top military brass, leading to a culture of fear and paranoia, and discouraging further such attempts.
A major problem with a potential military coup, is that much of the top military brass is complicit in criminality, and drug trafficking; many would surely be placed on trial if the Maduro regime were to fall. Thus, they have little incentive to turn on Maduro, who is their only meal ticket.
Nonetheless, there is certainly an element within state security forces and the military that sees the handwriting on the wall: the regime can not last forever, and there are currently no signs that Maduro is prepared to take the necessary steps to right the economy.
Until he gets the Venezuelan economy on sound footing, which is almost certain to never occur, things will only get worse, and Maduro will continue to live in fear of further unrest in the military ranks.