What the mainstream media won’t tell you about the man at the centre of the US-backed coup in Venezuela

Juan Guaidó
Peter Bolton

The international mainstream media has largely sided with Venezuela’s self-appointed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaidó in recent days. But it’s leaving out some important facts about the US-backed opposition leader. Why? Because these facts threaten Washington’s pro-coup narrative that is being parroted throughout the Western corporate-owned press.

Will the real Juan Guaidó please stand up?

The Guardian has quoted US national security advisor John Bolton uncritically, while portraying Guaidó as a heroic figure. But it completely glosses over the reality of who Guaidó is, as do other mainstream outlets.

Independent journalists, however, have now set the record straight. Writing at the Grayzone, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal offer a powerful rebuke of the idea that Guaidó is some kind of people’s champion poised to deliver Venezuela from evil. They point out that he is, in fact, an obscure figure in Venezuelan politics, who fewer than one in five Venezuelans had even heard of before the coup. And they add that his political party is a “politically marginal far-right group” that is “closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence”, stating:

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While Guaidó is today sold as the face of democratic restoration, he spent his career in the most violent faction of Venezuela’s most radical opposition party, positioning himself at the forefront of one destabilization campaign after another. His party has been widely discredited inside Venezuela, and is held partly responsible for fragmenting a badly weakened opposition.

Far from having a base of support among ordinary Venezuelans, Guaidó is rather “the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories.” As Cohen and Blumenthal say:

Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrat[ing] his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.

Venezuela’s government responds to the coup attempt

On 30 January, Venezuela’s attorney general froze Guaidó’s bank accounts and imposed a travel ban on him. The country is also placing the coup leader under investigation for “serious crimes that threaten the constitutional order”.

President Nicolás Maduro, meanwhile, has publicly stated that he is willing to enter into a peace dialogue with opposition leaders. The Vatican and UN secretary-general António Guterres have indicated support for such dialogue. And the governments of Mexico and Uruguay have also expressed willingness to serve as mediators to facilitate such talks.

Opposition forces and their supporters in Washington, however, seem to be holding firm. This is in spite of opposition demonstrations against the government in Caracas on 30 January having a poor turnout, according to social media reports.

There is no sign that Guaidó or the hardline opposition elements he represents are backing down, though. And why would they when they have the backing of Western governments and the international media?

A sad but predictable response from the mainstream media

The mainstream media has been parroting the opposition and US narrative dutifully. The Guardian, which has become notorious for its pro-Washington Latin America coverage, quotes the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco. (The board of directors of this so-called human rights organization includes former NATO and Wall Street personnel). Vicanco states that:

The only question, given the domestic and international support for Guaidó, is if the Maduro dictatorship is able to really flex its muscles and sideline Guaidó like it has with previous opposition leaders.

But the truth is that Guaido is not the savior the mainstream media is making him out to be. Instead, he seems to be just another US puppet hand-picked from an unrepresentative elite which has been trained to take power and restore US dominance in Venezuela.

Featured image via Carlos Garcia Soto/Wikimedia Commons and the Grayzone

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