Trump's axis of evil: Are John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Elliott Abrams plotting Venezuela coup?

Trump ran against military intervention, but his trio of old-school neocons have dangerous plans for Venezuela

Published January 28, 2019 6:00AM (EST)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Security Council at the U.N Headquarters on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (AP/Kevin Hagen)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Nations Security Council at the U.N Headquarters on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (AP/Kevin Hagen)

This article was originally published by Common Dreams. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on countries to "pick a side" on Venezuela, urging them to back opposition leader Juan Guaidó in a Saturday speech at the UN Security Council in New York.

"Now, it is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you're in league with [President Nicolás Maduro] and his mayhem," Pompeo told the Security Council.

Russia accused Washington of plotting a coup attempt in Venezuela, after trying to stop the meeting requested by the United States. "Venezuela does not represent a threat to peace and security. If anything does represent a threat to peace, it is the shameless and aggressive action of the United States and their allies aimed at the ouster of the legitimately elected president of Venezuela," Russia's UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council.

On Friday, longtime neoconservative Elliott Abrams was appointed U.S. special envoy for Venezuela.

“Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country,” Pompeo said, according to Reuters.

“It’s very nice to be back. This crisis in Venezuela is deep and difficult and dangerous,” Abrams said Friday. “And I can’t wait to get to work on it.”

Abrams has been called the "assistant secretary of dirty wars," a title he earned during his stints with the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations:

  • In 1993, after a UN truth commission examined 22,000 atrocities that had occurred during the 12-year civil war in El Salvador, and attributed 85 percent of the abuses to the Reagan-assisted right-wing military and its death-squad allies, Abrams, then assistant secretary of state for human rights, said: “The administration’s record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement.”
  • Abrams organized the illegal, covert financing of Contra rebels in Nicaragua behind the back of Congress, which had cut off funding.
  • Abrams lied to Congress twice about his role with the Contras. He pleaded guilty to both counts in 1991 but was pardoned by George H.W. Bush just before the latter left office.
  • A decade later, while working as special Middle East adviser to President George Ws Bush, Abrams was an enthusiastic advocate of the disastrous Iraq invasion.
  • Abrams was also in the Bush White House at the time of the abortive coup in 2002 against the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
  • Abrams helped lead the U.S. effort to stage a coup to overturn the results of the 2006 Palestinian elections, complete with murder and torture.

Also on Friday, a Wall Street Journal report confirmed suspicions that opposition leader Juan Guaidó's move to declare himself "interim president" of Venezuela this week had been coordinated with the Trump White House and Republican lawmakers.

Guaidó's move and President Trump's rapid endorsement were quickly decried as a dangerous intervention — or the beginnings of a coup d'état — which progressives have argued would dramatically worsen Venezuela's economic and political crisis. As Common Dreams previously reported, more than 70 academics and experts signed an open letter demanding that the U.S. "cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change."


By Common Dreams staff