US officials secretly met with Venezuelan military officers plotting a coup against Maduro

US officials met secretly with Venezuelan military officers who were plotting a coup against Venezuelan Pres...

Posted: Sep 9, 2018 3:46 PM
Updated: Sep 9, 2018 3:46 PM

US officials met secretly with Venezuelan military officers who were plotting a coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, both a current and a former US official confirmed to CNN.

American officials met with the renegade Venezuelan military officers several times over the last year after the Venezuelan officers made contact, but Washington ultimately decided against supporting the coup, the two sources said.

Continents and regions

Coups and attempted coups

Donald Trump

Latin America

Military

Military operations

Nicolas Maduro

North America

Political Figures - Intl

Political Figures - US

South America

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Venezuela

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

US federal government

White House

The US did not provide the Venezuelan officers with any support and the plans for the coup ultimately fell apart, the sources said.

The Trump administration's discussions with the Venezuelan military officers about a potential coup were first reported Saturday morning by the New York Times. The current and former US officials confirmed to CNN that report is accurate.

The White House declined to comment on the meetings between US officials and Venezuelan military officers, but said in a statement the US continues to support "a peaceful orderly return to democracy in Venezuela."

"U.S. policy preference for a peaceful, orderly return to democracy in Venezuela remains unchanged. The United States government hears daily the concerns of Venezuelans from all walks of life -- be they members of the ruling party, the security services, elements of civil society or from among the millions of citizens forced by the regime to flee abroad. They share one goal: the rebuilding of democracy in their homeland," said National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis. "A lasting solution to Venezuela's worsening crisis can only arise following restoration of governance by democratic practices, the rule of law, and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms."

CNN also reached out to the press office of Venezuela's Ministry of Defense, who said they will not comment until they are given instructions to do so.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza responded to the news through his verified Twitter account, saying the Maduro government denounces efforts to intervene in the Latin American nation.

"We denounce before the world the intervention plans and the support to military conspiracies by the US government against Venezuela. In the US's own media came to light new and crass evidence," Arreaza tweeted.

President Donald Trump has previously discussed the possibility of a military option in Venezuela.

"We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option," Trump said last August.

Asked about the possibility of a military intervention in response to the mounting crisis in the country, the President said that is something the US "certainly could pursue."

Taking military action against Venezuela would be a dramatic escalation of the US's so-far solely diplomatic and sanctions-focused response to the political and economic crisis roiling the South American country.

In August 2017, Trump asked several advisers about the possibility of invading Venezuela, CNN reported in July.

Details about the meetings

The Times' report included details from the secret meetings, citing 11 current and former US officials and a former Venezuelan military commander sanctioned by the US government who was involved in the secret meetings.

The Venezuelan military commander is one of many on the US government's list of sanctioned Venezuelan officials accused of serious crimes, according to the Times.

The former commander told the Times at least three factions within the Venezuelan military were plotting against the Maduro government.

The Times reported that one such rebel group made initial contact with the US government through an American embassy in a European city's capital.

White House officials back in Washington were at first worried that the meeting request was a setup in order to record a US official appearing to conspire against Maduro's government, the Times reported.

But US officials finally felt the meetings were worth the risk as they watched the crisis in the Latin American country worsen, the Times reported.

Trump's administration sent a career diplomat with instructions to attend the meetings "purely on listening mode" and not to negotiate, a senior administration official told the Times.

From their first meeting held abroad in fall 2017, the diplomat made the assessment that the Venezuelan rebels did not appear to have a detailed plan, but instead were hoping the American government would provide guidance or ideas, the Times reported.

The former Venezuelan commander told the Times that the officers never sought US military intervention: "I never agreed, nor did they propose, to do a joint operation," he told the newspaper.

During a second meeting last year, the officers requested encrypted radios for secure communication, the Times reported.

But senior officials declined the request, according to the newspaper.

A third meeting was arranged early this year, however discussions resulted in zero promises of material support or clear signs that Washington supported the rebels' plans, the Times reported.

Attempts to stage a coup by Venezuelan rebels

According to the Venezuelan commander, the rebels attempted several times to stage a coup.

They were considering striking last July, when the election was held to replace the National Assembly with a new pro-Maduro legislative body called the National Constituent Assembly, the Times reported.

The plans to stage a coup moved to March, then later the May 20 election. However, both attempts were thwarted after the plans leaked, according to the Times.

The Times reported that it's unclear the amount of detail the Venezuelans shared with the Americans, yet there is indication that Maduro was aware of the secret meetings.

Once the richest country in Latin America, Venezuela has plummeted into an economic and humanitarian crisis where its people are living with food shortages, overcrowded hospitals, inflation and political turmoil. The chaos and ongoing crisis have triggered a mass exodus of Venezuelans seeking refuge in neighboring countries, ratcheting up tensions in the region.

Last month, Maduro survived an apparent assassination attempt after several drones armed with explosives flew toward him during a speech at a military parade.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300913

Reported Deaths: 5332
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41330845
Lake26364448
Allen17299290
Elkhart16665212
St. Joseph16319220
Hamilton12459164
Vanderburgh9428112
Tippecanoe826727
Porter791279
Johnson6139164
Hendricks5807154
Vigo574474
Monroe525247
Clark495374
Delaware4789103
Madison4760119
LaPorte446894
Kosciusko446139
Howard325575
Warrick316072
Floyd306177
Bartholomew303262
Wayne295261
Cass293431
Marshall289944
Grant258747
Noble246846
Hancock243749
Henry237136
Boone235154
Dubois230430
Dearborn208829
Jackson206033
Morgan200643
Knox178017
Gibson177022
Clinton174920
Shelby174554
Lawrence171646
DeKalb171229
Adams165219
Miami155114
Wabash153018
Daviess152243
Fayette145233
Steuben141113
Jasper138311
Harrison137624
LaGrange136629
Montgomery131226
Whitley129910
Ripley123714
Decatur123542
Huntington122310
Posey118913
Putnam118326
Wells118327
Randolph117819
White117421
Clay115621
Jefferson114214
Greene100253
Scott99818
Jay95012
Starke89221
Sullivan86615
Fulton81117
Perry80921
Jennings80514
Spencer8047
Fountain7378
Washington7176
Carroll66813
Franklin65925
Orange65728
Vermillion5832
Owen5816
Parke5416
Newton54012
Tipton53726
Rush5216
Blackford51211
Pike50218
Pulaski36810
Martin3485
Brown3263
Benton3251
Crawford2781
Union2621
Switzerland2473
Warren2352
Ohio2257
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 363304

Reported Deaths: 6020
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin49267665
Cuyahoga35214736
Hamilton29462371
Montgomery19636225
Butler14472144
Lucas14033409
Summit12962310
Stark8529197
Warren798975
Mahoning7068299
Lake662766
Lorain623697
Clermont563946
Delaware540335
Licking535875
Fairfield523763
Trumbull5159144
Greene510563
Clark501064
Allen460685
Marion457751
Wood4394107
Medina428654
Miami416465
Pickaway396448
Columbiana339597
Portage334471
Tuscarawas317557
Wayne314993
Richland306732
Mercer284737
Ross239259
Hancock232736
Muskingum231910
Auglaize223230
Putnam221449
Erie217165
Darke217058
Ashtabula215753
Geauga197351
Scioto193615
Union18658
Lawrence185436
Shelby184815
Athens18454
Seneca173118
Belmont158529
Madison156218
Sandusky152327
Preble148421
Huron147518
Defiance137921
Holmes137739
Logan123613
Knox122518
Fulton122025
Crawford119116
Ottawa118930
Washington116427
Clinton103414
Ashland102722
Williams10238
Jefferson10124
Highland99517
Henry98422
Brown9644
Champaign9345
Jackson90312
Van Wert8976
Fayette89217
Hardin86118
Morrow8552
Guernsey83313
Coshocton81413
Perry77012
Adams75012
Pike7261
Wyandot70516
Gallia70413
Paulding62710
Hocking61011
Noble59722
Carroll44310
Meigs37612
Monroe31021
Morgan2395
Vinton2105
Harrison1913
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 32°
Angola
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 23°
Huntington
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 30°
Decatur
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 34°
Van Wert
Overcast
34° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 34°
Snow/Rain Showers Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events