Officials from the Trump administration held secret meetings with Venezuelan military officers who were planning to overthrow their President Nicolas Maduro, according to a report by the New York Times.
According to the report, there were multiple plans for a coup – first in the summer of 2017, and later in March and May of this year. The report also says that at least three different groups from the Venezuelan defence forces were part of this plan.
However, when U.S. government officials declined to cooperate, plans for Maduro's overthrow fell apart.
The report, in which the New York Times cited interviews with 11 current and former U.S. officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the meetings, has already drawn outrage from the Venezuelan government with Maduro’s supporters blaming the U.S. for conspiracies against him.
On Saturday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced efforts to overthrow the government of the South American state. "We denounce in front of the international community, the plans for intervention and the support of military plots against Venezuela by the United States government," he said.
"Even in the U.S. media, blatant evidence has come to light," he added.
Denunciamos ante el mundo los planes de intervención y apoyo a conspiraciones militares del gobierno de los Estados Unidos contra Venezuela. En los propios medios estadounidenses salen a la luz nuevas y groseras evidencias: https://t.co/1vvuusfgrb
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) September 8, 2018
The country’s economic crisis has been exacerbated by plots against the Venezuelan President. As recently as August, two explosive-laden drones failed to reach their target i.e. Maduro during a march-past in Caracas.
But the U.S. government’s involvement was reportedly requested after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened military intervention against Venezuela. "The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary, " Donald Trump had said in August 2017.
According to the New York Times report, the Venezuelan officials saw the declaration as an opportunity to establish a channel of communication with the Americans. "It was the commander in chief saying this now," a former Venezuelan commander said, "I'm not going to doubt it when this was the messenger."
The senior Venezuelan commander spoke on the condition of anonymity, the report said, out of fear of reprisal by the Nicholas Maduro government. Maduro, who inherited the Bolivarian revolution after former president Hugo Chávez’s death in 2013, is seen as an authoritarian leader of an increasingly unstable state.
Venezuela has fallen into a deep economic crisis suffering hyperinflation and falling oil production. The crisis has provoked a historic exodus of Venezuelans from the country that is threatening to overwhelm the neighboring states.