Trump triples down on Venezuela regime change, even as he faces one himself


US President Donald Trump has one thing in common with his critics: both double or even triple down rather than admit failure, as shown by impeachment hearings in Washington and a continued campaign for regime change in Venezuela.

At the UN General Assembly this week, the US relentlessly promoted Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, while issuing sanctions against the actual government in Caracas. Guaido declared himself “interim president” in January with the support of the US and its allies. 

“We will stand with the Venezuelan people every single day until they are finally freed from this horrible and brutal oppression,” Trump declared, after meeting with Guaido’s representatives in New York on Wednesday. 

One of the ways to “stand with” Venezuelans is to ban them – specifically, block every official of the actual government ranked vice minister or above and every security officer ranked colonel or higher, from entering the US. Activists and organizations protesting against Trump’s other travel bans were entirely silent about this one.

Open-border advocates were likewise silent when USAID announced it would send $52 million in aid to Guaido, even though it was money originally intended for Honduras and Guatemala.

The US has now literally tripled its “investment” in “democracy promotion” programs in Venezuela and is, for the first time, openly funding Guaido personally. While the lawmakers found time to lodge a protest vote against Trump’s declaration of an emergency to fund the border wall, there has been zero outcry about funding regime-change in Caracas. Fiscal hawks who never miss an opportunity to virtue-signal? Silent. Foreign policy doves? All quiet on that front. 

That’s even more baffling, given the recent revelations that Guaido’s supporters have been embezzling millions in US funding almost from the very beginning of the regime-change operation, spending it on fancy hotels, expensive clothes, alcohol, cars and other luxuries – instead of, say, paying defectors as they were supposed to. Maybe that explains why Guaido’s campaign to seize power has been going so poorly?

Make no mistake, Project Guaido has been an abject failure so far, every step of the way. The self-proclaimed “interim president” was supposed to just crowd-surf the adoring Venezuelans last January and waltz through the front gates of Miraflores Palace, ousting the “hated usurper” Nicolas Maduro. Well, it’s almost October and he’s no closer to that goal now than he was then. 

The big “humanitarian concert” on the Colombian side of the border in February was supposed to open the roadblocks and usher in the glorious revolution on the backs of US aid trucks. It failed. Several of the trucks ended up ablaze on border bridges – with US media blaming the loyalists and video suggesting it was Guaido’s followers – and the rest of the food rotted away.

Another major stunt was the April 30 attempt to launch a military rebellion, which quickly turned out to be a dud. The abortive coup, applauded by the US and its allies as “democracy,” fizzled out within hours. 

More recently, Guaido was photographed in the company of Colombian drug cartel lords. The Venezuelan government says the narcos helped Guaido cross the border back in February. He claims he had no idea who these people were, and thought they were just fans wanting selfies. Colombian authorities confirmed the two men in the photos were indeed members of narco cartels, but otherwise played dumb.

The whole episode is especially embarrassing, considering the billions of dollars the US has spent over the past several decades to fight a war against Colombian cocaine. 

Leaving aside the giant flaming hypocrisy of promoting ‘democracy’ by hand-picking another country’s leader, banning its elected government and endorsing a military coup, what does one do when the project keeps failing? Triple down, obviously. Being an empire means never having to admit a mistake.

The biggest irony of them all is that, this week, Trump’s own opposition – which also never accepted the legitimacy of the election that brought him into the Oval Office – has launched an impeachment inquiry against the US president. Their pretext for doing so is tenuous at best, and previous attempts have fizzled worse than Guaido’s bid for power, but they’re keeping at it.