Playa Girón

On April 17th 1961 Cuba was invaded by the CIA with 8 B-26 Attack Aircraft, 5 M41 Walker Bulldog!!! Tanks, 4 surplus LSTs, and 1400 deluded Cubans.


It didn’t work out.

Juan Guaidó promised to save Venezuela. Now the flame he lit is petering out, and his U.S. backers are weighing their options.
By Anthony Faiola, Washington Post

It was sunset in the Venezuelan capital, and Juan Guaidó, the 36-year-old industrial engineer anointed earlier this year as the would-be savior of a troubled nation, leaped out of his unmarked Ford Explorer and into a middle-class neighborhood of mid-rise apartments.

“Viva Guaidó!” exclaimed one of the most fervent among the 250 or so neighbors who had ventured out to hear him speak. It was a far cry from the mass marches he commanded earlier in the year. Vegetable vendors at a nearby market, unmoved, continued to hawk their wilted remainders. Some in the crowd tried to stir a chorus of Guaidó’s trademark (if borrowed) slogan: “¡Sí, se puede!” “Yes, we can!”

But the chant quickly fizzled out — just as the historic movement Guaidó launched at the beginning of the year is in danger of doing.

Security forces raided the home of a lawmaker from Guaidó’s party on Friday, and then accused her and three others of plotting a coup. Maduro announced arrest warrants against the four lawmakers on Sunday.

Guaidó dismissed the allegations as more of Maduro’s intimidation, and said his presence during the raid saved lawmaker Yanet Fermín from being detained.

Perhaps more ominously, Guaidó is suddenly confronting revelations of corruption and plots against him from within his own ranks, tarnishing his movement and threatening to unravel the opposition’s hard-won unity.

The once-steady threats of American force to oust Maduro — rhetoric that divided Guaidó’s teetering coalition — have all but evaporated. But the Trump administration is weighing new steps — short of boots on the ground — that could further strain harmony. The options, according to two people familiar with U.S. deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, include a possible naval blockade of Venezuelan oil destined for Cuba. The oil represents a key source of revenue for Maduro’s government, which is under heavy sanctions.

The government knows where Guaidó lives and works but has thus far not risked the international backlash that could come from detaining him. Yet as his popularity slips — some polls now show him below 40 percent, down from 65 percent in the spring — his adversaries are growing bolder.

Through the summer, Guaidó traveled the country relatively freely. But during a campaign stop at Venezuela’s Margarita Island two months ago, the government shut down the hotel and seized the cars he used. He has limited his travels ever since.

More and harsher stories against him and his family are appearing on social media and pro-government websites. One talks of his brother’s alleged Swiss bank accounts.

“Fake news,” Guaidó said. “They have launched a psychological war to create negative public opinion.”

For a time, Guaidó seemed poised to join a shortlist of global figures who have almost single-handedly changed their nation’s history. In January, after Maduro claimed victory in tainted elections, Guaidó dared to do what previous opposition leaders in his position had feared: He publicly claimed the presidency himself.

The following month, he spirited over the Colombian border to join a deadly showdown to push humanitarian aid into Venezuela against Maduro’s military blockade. He expected soldiers to defect and join the cause, but few did. The effort ended with at least seven dead and 300 injured, much of the aid burned, and the opposition struggling to recapture momentum.

Then, in the predawn hours of April 30, Guaidó appeared at La Carlota air base in eastern Caracas with a handful of soldiers and called for the military to rise up against Maduro. Venezuelans poured into the streets for what appeared to be a turning point in the opposition struggle. But images of a triumphant Guaidó, cheered on by his backers in Washington, soon gave way to word that the co-conspirators close to Maduro and within the military whom Guaidó had counted on had declined to follow through with a carefully laid but prematurely sprung plot.

“I think Guaidó has made mistakes, and I’m not sure if it is because of lack of information or bad advice,” said María Corina Machado, an opposition hard-liner. “The opposition keeps making the same mistakes again and again. And that has brought distrust.”

On the morning of Dec. 1, the problem would become dire as rot within the opposition came to light.

The local investigative outlet published an exposé based on letters that incriminated nine opposition lawmakers in a scheme linked to a Venezuelan executive under U.S. sanctions who does big business with Maduro’s government.

The lawmakers allegedly signed letters in support of executive Alex Saab and a Colombian associate that were sent to the Colombian government, European nations and international banks, according to Edgar Zambrano, appointed by Guaidó to probe the case. Presumably, the letters were aimed at unfreezing overseas funds belonging to Saab and his associate.

Some of the accused lawmakers have denied the authenticity of those letters. But senior opposition officials say most of them are also involved in an effort by the Maduro government to buy off or coerce their peers into abandoning Guaidó.

The plan: to prevent Guaidó from winning reelection next month as head of the National Assembly. A loss would rob him of the legal basis for his claim to the presidency, now recognized by the United States and 58 other nations.

Luis Stefanelli, an opposition lawmaker from Guaidó’s party, says a fellow legislator approached him last month with an offer: $50,000 up front and $950,000 next month to betray Guaidó.

The alleged corruption has sparked outrage among opposition supporters.

The alleged sedition within Guaidó’s ranks runs deeper than bribes. In recent months, his ambassador to Colombia, Humberto Calderón, held unofficial meetings with emissaries of Maduro’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, and the head of Venezuela’s supreme court, Maikel Moreno, according to three people familiar with the talks.

Padrino and Moreno, U.S. and opposition officials have said, conspired against Maduro in the failed April 30 plot before dropping out (the two men have denied it). In Calderón’s deal, both Maduro and Guaidó would have been forced out, according to these people.

Guaidó fired Calderón last month. Members of the Venezuelan opposition in Colombia say the rift dates at least as far back as April, when Colombian and U.S. intelligence told Calderón that opposition officials close to Guaidó in Colombia were allegedly misusing donations. Calderón informed Guaidó of the claims, and two months later, in June, the intelligence documents, including evidence of dining at expensive restaurants and the hiring of prostitutes, were made public by the outlet PanAm Post.

Opposition officials close to Guaidó have suggested Calderón was the one who leaked the documents. Calderón denies the allegation and denies holding secret talks with emissaries of Maduro’s inner circle. But he suggested Guaidó needed to rethink his strategy and team.

“Guaidó needs to renovate his inner circle, because the people he has around him are not the best,” Calderón told The Washington Post. “He needs competence and transparency. If you do not set a good example, people won’t believe in you.”

Maduro has managed to withstand tough U.S. sanctions — including an embargo on Venezuelan oil, the lifeblood of its economy — by running gold and gems from the mineral-rich south to Turkey and Russia in exchange for cash. Russia and, to a lesser extent, China remain solid benefactors.

U.S. officials held high-level meetings last week to reassess their approach on Venezuela and consider more provocative steps. U.S. officials this month identified six state-owned vessels they said were shipping oil to Cuba — and are weighing a blockade to prevent them from reaching the island.

“Tougher options are being weighed, and some of them will be put into effect,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “There are no debates about the policy — backing Guaidó and pressing for a transition to democracy — but there are discussions about how to make the policy more effective. So steps will be taken, probably after Christmas.”

Yet some Guiadó supporters blame him for a U.S. policy they believe has failed. U.S. economic sanctions, some argue, are hurting an economy already on life support. Others complain that President Trump raised their hopes by threatening U.S. military action that now appears to have always been a bluff.

“I’m mad,” said Emperatriz Machado, a 41-year-old veterinarian who came to hear Guaidó. “A U.S. intervention was a dream, and nothing more.”

It rarely does.