Careful not to discredit their cause in the eyes of a wary international community, US officials and opposition leader Juan Guaido have continued to imply that a military intervention to remove Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro remains an option as the strongman has proven surprisingly resilient in the face of an internationally backed challenge to his rule.
However, many may not realize just how close the situation came to an all-out military conflict late last month, when a skirmish over a US-funded humanitarian aid convoy left at least two Venezuelans dead. As the fighting raged along the Venezuela-Colombia border, a group of 200 exiled soldiers were readying their weapons and preparing to forcefully overpower the Venezuelan national guardsmen and “escort” the caravan of supplies across the border.
According to Bloomberg, which reported the aborted coup attempt on Tuesday, the group backed down at the last minute after Colombian officials – who promised to maintain some semblance of peace during the demonstrations – caught wind of their plan, which had been organized by retired General Cliver Alcala, and quickly shut it down.
But now that Guaido is back in Caracas, with the support of 50 nations who recognize him as the legitimate ruler of Venezuela, the situation along the border is looking increasingly parlous. And as BBG pointed out, as the situation drags on, the calls for a military intervention will only grow louder.
Led by retired General Cliver Alcala, who has been living in Colombia, they were going to drive back the Venezuelan national guardsmen blocking the aid on the other side. The plan was stopped by the Colombian government, which learned of it late and feared violent clashes at a highly public event it promised would be peaceful.
Almost no provisions got in that day and hopes that military commanders would abandon Maduro have so far been dashed. Even though Guaido is back in Caracas, recognized by 50 nations as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, the impromptu taking up of arms shows that the push to remove Maduro – hailed by the U.S. as inevitable – is growing increasingly chaotic and risky.
As the standoff drags on, the urge to seek some sort of military solution will only increase.