Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó may have overestimated his support in attempting to stir a military uprising, but President Nicolas Maduro is down two lieutenant colonels and five lower-ranking officers after a Cougar military helicopter crashed into a mountain outside of Caracas on Saturday.
According to ABC News, the crash happened early in the morning on an overcast day in the capital.
The armed forces said in a statement the chopper was heading to San Carlos in Cojedes state. That’s an hour away from a military academy where Maduro appeared early Saturday overseeing training exercises in a display of confidence in his armed forces following a week of intrigue that saw a small cadre of soldiers turn against him in an opposition-led uprising. –ABC News
It was not made clear if the helicopter was part of the presidential delegation.
On Saturday, Guaidó acknowledged that errors were made in his attempt to execute on a clandestine plan to oust Maduro, which fell apart on Tuesday due to lack of support from the Venezuelan military, according to the Washington Post.
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, Guaidó suggested that he expected Maduro to step down amid a groundswell of defectors within the military. Instead, Guaidó’s call for the rank and file and senior brass to abandon Maduro did not produce mass defections. Maduro’s security forces then quelled street protests and left Guaidó’s U.S.-backed opposition on its heels.
“Maybe because we still need more soldiers, and maybe we need more officials of the regime to be willing to support it, to back the constitution,” Guaidó said. “I think the variables are obvious at this point.” –Washington Post
To that end, a protester was captured on film handing over a written appeal for the military’s support from Guaidó to several police officers, only to have them burn the document and let the ashes fall to the ground – with one saying that the armed forces “won’t be blackmailed or bought.”
#4May Officials of the National Guard stationed in La Casona in Caracas burn document of the Amnesty Law that the president @jguaido grants to the military to accept Article 328 of the Constitution of #Venezuela @realDonaldTrump @marcorubio @SecPompeo pic.twitter.com/8LQdGZEr6d
— Juventud Vzlana Ext (@JUVENEX_) May 4, 2019
Guaidó – the head of the National Assembly who declared Maduro a ursurper in January, also said that he would welcome US support to fight alongside Venezuelan forces against Maduro.
The Trump administration’s hawks have pushed the Pentagon for possible military intervention, according to the Post, however the administration has not yet given a clear signal over what course the US will take.
When asked what he would do if national security adviser John Bolton made an offer for the US to intervene, Guaidó said he would reply: “Dear friend, ambassador John Bolton, thank you for all the help you have given to the just cause here. Thank you for the option, we will evaluate it, and will probably consider it in parliament to solve this crisis. If it’s necessary, maybe we will approve it.” (perhaps with CIA Director Gina Haspel’s stamp of approval?)
On Tuesday, Guaidó appeared outside a Caracas military base urged the military to overthrow his political rival.
As the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly waited, however, it became clear that his call had failed to rally armed forces to his side. Clashes between protesters and police then erupted, leaving five dead.
Maduro’s government has also shown signs of weakness and has not moved to arrest Guaidó, who the United States and over 50 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
More than three million Venezuelans have left the country to escape a shrinking economy, hyperinflation and shortages of necessities such as medicine. –AP
“I think today there are many Venezuelan soldiers that want to put an end to [leftist guerrillas], and help humanitarian aid get in, who would be happy to receive cooperation to end usurpation. And if that includes the cooperation of honorable countries like the United States, I think that would be an option,” added Guaidó.