Coup attempt by right-wing conspirators fails - socialists support Venezuela on May Day

Thousands of Venezuelans rally at the Milaflores Palace in support of their government, 30 April

The Revolutionary Communist Group denounces the coup attempt headed by opposition leader Juan Guaido against the Bolivarian revolution. The failed military coup of 30 April is the latest assault on the struggle for socialism in Venezuela since Guaido unconstitutionally declared himself ‘interim president’ on 23 January 2019 and attempted to force US intervention via the Trojan horse of USAID. As dawn broke, having released his crony, Leopoldo Lopez, from house arrest, this puppet of the Pentagon unveiled his grand finale, announcing he was in the final stages of overthrowing United Socialist Party president Nicolas Maduro, elected by a four million majority last May. Immediately the US war criminals sprang into action, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted ‘The US government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy’. They were joined by Ecuador’s Lenin Moreno and the ultra-reactionary Lima group of 12 countries led by OAS president Luis Almagro, whose raison d’être is the destruction of the Bolivarian revolution. Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, gushed over the ‘great news…. a historic moment for the return to democracy and freedom in Venezuela’. The bourgeois press went into twitter-overdrive, with the BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher and The Guardian’s Tom Phillips spouting full-throated support for Guaido, slavering at the idea of his final success. No impartiality there then. 

By dusk, instead of roof-riding a car into Miraflores, Guaido was clinging on to the last shreds of hope for his pathetic coup attempt, his support rapidly dwindling. The fictitious military support had evaporated, Lopez was hiding in the Spanish embassy, the opposition marchers had barely made it out of their middle-class enclave in Altamira. Once again, his plans were thwarted by the Venezuelan working class who mobilised to face down the military putsch.  The majority of the army stayed firm, pledging allegiance to the civic-military union, the constitution and the legacy of late socialist leader, Hugo Chavez.  Chanting ‘No Volveran! – they will not return to power’, tens of thousands of chavistas surrounded the Miraflores presidential palace, determined to defend their hard-won gains in healthcare, housing, education and participatory democracy. The imperialists and their bourgeois media have consistently underestimated the Venezuelan working class, just as they did in 2002.  For them the Venezuelan working class does not exist, there were no live feeds showing the streets filled with red-clad revolutionaries. How else do they explain Guaido’s defeat? How do they explain the fact that Maduro is still in power despite four solid months of a sustained coup? The BBC references advisers from Cuba, finance from China, military support from Russia, but it is in fact the Venezuelan working class and poor who have mobilised to defend their Bolivarian revolution throughout. From the 2002 coup against Chavez when they poured from the hillsides and defeated his enforced exile in 48 hours, to the oil lock-out when they restarted production and reclaimed PDVSA, to the mobilisations against the regular violent guarimba protests. This is where the real power lies. The bourgeois press may be able to keep them off their screens, but they can’t keep them off the streets.

The military coup was nothing more than an illusion. A renegade group of SEBIN intelligence officers freed Lopez from house arrest where he has been held since 2017 for his part in violent protest deaths. Guaido and Lopez took to social media, allegedly from La Carlota airbase, calling on their supporters to take Miraflores. Fake news flowed, with the supposed betrayal of FANB armed forces chief, Mayor General Ornelas Ferreira, and rumours of Maduro ‘hiding in a bunker’ about to flee the country. US National security adviser John Bolton petitioned military leaders: ‘Your time is up. This is your last chance. Accept Interim President Guaido’s amnesty, protect the Constitution, and remove Maduro, and we will take you off our sanctions list. Stay with Maduro and go down with the ship’.  The playbook was clear, generate confusion, create the illusion that a majority of armed forces had defected to Guaido, and the rest would follow. In reality, the coup plotters never entered the airbase, Ferreira and the FANB opposed the coup. Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino declared that 80% of the soldiers involved abandoned the scene after they had been deceived by their officers to take part in a fake ‘training exercise’. The only scalp claimed was SEBIN director Manuel Christopher Figuera. Information later surfaced that coup soldiers hijacked armoured cars for false flag operations, though reports of injuries are currently unclear. Given the gravity of the situation and potential for full scale civil war, it is astounding the coup was thwarted with such little bloodshed.  Guaido, who has been proclaiming he is on the verge of taking the presidency since January, failed again.

The US state department, Trump, Pompeo and Cold War veterans John Bolton and Elliot Abrams – himself a war criminal - are not just backing the coup, they are leading it. John Bolton sounded the starting pistol last November, declaring Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua a ‘troika of tyranny’, ‘the sordid cradle of communism’ pledging to destroy these beacons of anti-imperialist resistance. The hypocrisy of the US knows no bounds, spouting empty phrases about freedom whilst the US blockade and oil-sanctions are strangling the economy, causing the deaths of at least 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017 (1).  The only ‘freedom’ this operation will bring is the freedom to steal oil revenue from social spending, the freedom of the IMF and world bank to privatise the public sector and implement devastating austerity measures, the freedom of Venezuela’s white elite to again govern the country from their mansions and country clubs, disenfranchising the black and brown masses in the barrios.

The Guardian tied itself to the interests of imperialism. Arch anti-socialist Rory Carroll came out of the woodwork to pen his first piece on Venezuela in years. Spouting anti-working class vitriol he questioned whether Maduro, the ‘fumbling showman’ and ‘bus driver’ can ‘cling to the wheel’, laying the blame for the economic crisis on ‘financial ineptitude and ideological hollowness’. Carroll offers no facts on the impact of the brutal US sanctions which have cut off Venezuela from international credit, blocked imports of food and medicine and forced oil production to plummet. He remains silent on the role of Britain, with the Bank of England withholding $1.3 billion of Venezuelan gold. Once again, the apparently ‘liberal’ Guardian has placed itself firmly on the side of a US backed coup against a democratically elected leader in a country explicitly attempting to build socialism. This sham of independent press coverage must bear direct responsibility for any bloodshed in Venezuela, manufacturing consent for US intervention amongst the British public, neutralising desperately needed political solidarity and public outcry.

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RCG in London demonstrates in solidarity with Venezuela on the International Workers Day march

What of the self-proclaimed socialist leaders of Britain? Where are the statements from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell condemning this latest coup attempt? Eyes on the prize of the local and mayoral elections, Corbyn maintained radio silence whilst McDonnell could not find one word to utter in solidarity with Venezuela at London’s May day rally. The Labour party, engulfed by its own Brexit crisis and irredeemably tied to the City of London, can never provide a principled anti-imperialist defence of Venezuela, nor any other resistance to imperialism. It is down to us to take to the streets, expose the media propaganda blitz, picket the Guardian and BBC mouthpieces of rabid anti-socialism, protest the piracy of the Bank of England and oppose this latest onslaught on Venezuela.

Though Guaido’s reputation is in tatters, the battle continues. International Workers’ Day was marked by huge chavista marches opposing the coup as Maduro convened a Bolivarian congress of the peoples to debate and propose a revolutionary way out of the crisis. Amid fresh street violence, Guaido addressed a large opposition march, pledging the ‘definitive overthrow’ of Maduro and calling for public sector strikes. Pompeo reiterated that ‘military action is possible. If that's what's required, that's what the United States will do’. Eric Prince, founder of the notorious Blackwater security firm, is lobbying to send 5,000 mercenaries as a private army for Guaido whilst Colombia’s president Ivan Duque accused Venezuela of harbouring ELN rebels, threatening action on the border. Venezuela teeters on the brink of a regional bloody war, the future of Socialist Cuba and socialist struggles in Bolivia and Nicaragua bound up in its fate.

We stand with the Venezuelan working class against the violent manoeuvres of the US backed opposition. The attack on the struggle to build socialism in Venezuela is an attack on the fight against capitalism everywhere. We oppose any attempts to interfere in sovereign states and call on all progressive forces to do the same. Hands off Venezuela! No coup! No intervention! End sanctions now!

Sam McGill


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