Sen. Marco Rubio finally seems to be getting what he wanted: a potential military coup in Venezuela. Early this morning, Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan politician who arbitrarily declared himself the nation's president in January, announced he and a seemingly small band of low-ranking Venezuelan military guards were mounting a revolt against Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro's government.
Though it's unclear if the U.S. is in any way involved in today's uprising, Rubio has spent the morning loudly cheerleading Guaidó's efforts while lobbing melodramatic threats at the Maduro regime. And, amazingly, Rubio is trying to gaslight observers into thinking this is somehow not a military coup even though it very much is:
Just saw @CNN shamefully call what is happening today in #Venezuela a “coup attempt” @jguaido is recognized as legitimate interim President of #Venezuela by constitution,over 50 countries & OAS.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2019
The only coup is the one carried out by #Cuba in support of dictator #Maduro
After years of suffering freedom is waiting for people of #Venezuela. Do not let them take this opportunity from you.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2019
Now is the moment to take to the streets in support of your legitimate constitutional government.
Do not allow this moment to slip away. It may not come again
Today their can be no bystanders in #Venezuela#FANB,police,judicial & political leaders you must either support restoring constitutional democracy or you are a supporter of Cuba’s efforts to colonize Venezuela— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 30, 2019
The choice you make will define the rest of your life
Other Florida politicians who have been transparently using their support for Guaidó to drum up votes stateside have also chimed in:
I spoke to @AmbJohnBolton this morning. The situation in #Venezuela is fluid and information is sketchy as social media has been largely shut down.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) April 30, 2019
But the United States stands with the patriots of Venezuela fighting for their life, liberty and sacred honor. #OperaciónLibertad
#Maduro has dragged #Venezuela down for years with corruption, oppression and human rights abuses, prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people for far too long. He must go! #VenezuelaLibre #OperacionLibertad— Mario Diaz-Balart (@MarioDB) April 30, 2019
In addition to the band of troops, a familiar face showed up alongside Guaidó this morning: Leopoldo López, a right-wing agitator considered by some Venezuelans to be a freedom fighter, and by others to be a fascist or terrorist. López, long known as one of Guaidó's mentors, had been under house arrest for years on (likely trumped-up) arson and conspiracy charges.
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López's surprise release today is something of a double-edged sword, however. Though López may energize some members of the Venezuelan right, he is a divisive figure in Venezuelan politics and will not win Guaidó any fans among the millions of committed leftists and socialists who may reject Maduro but also feel skeptical about Guaidó. (López has extremely close ties to many of the individuals who mounted the unpopular 2002 coup of Hugo Chávez, who at the time had been democratically elected and had broad support from most sections of the electorate.)
At the same time, Maduro has predictably cracked down on the uprising by using violence, including firing live rounds at protesters in the streets.
Video has already emerged from Venezuela showing Maduro clashing with Guaidó's and López's forces. At the moment, Guaidó appears to have pulled only about 1,000 troops over to his cause. His success, seemingly, depends on whether he's able to flip more soldiers to his side.