Checkpoint Asia

Why Is Juan Guaido Still a Free Man?

Imprisoned Guaido is a lightning rod for sanctions, walking around free he is a laughing stock

Usually when you attempt an armed coup and fail that means you end up in jail, but there are reasons to believe Guaido was goaded into launching the coup by Maduro

Why is Juan Guaido still walking around as a free man? Call me crazy, but if a John Happy one day went on a stroll of Washington DC streets, with a dozen M4-totting National Guardsmen who had switched to his side and a machine gun in his tow, setting up checkpoints, and calling for the rest of the military to join his uprising against the White House he would now be under siege, in prison or dead.

Instead Juan Guaido is walking around like he never tried staging a coup and failed miserably. Why is that so? Why has Maduro decided not to arrest Guaido when he now has all the justification to do so?

The only explanation is that Maduro thinks Guaido is less of a problem roaming around free than in a cell.

Locked up, Guaido could be justification for endless rounds of sanctions by US Congress, and could score some martyr points. Roaming free he might instead continue to discredit himself — after all that is what he has done so far:

For the third time this year, the big moment in Venezuela has turned into a bust.

Trump administration officials had expected that Wednesday might turn out to be the beginning of the end for President Nicolas Maduro with senior government figures withdrawing support and the opposition launching a mass uprising with military backing.

Or at least that’s what the administration had been led to believe.

But the promised defections didn’t happen…

John Bolton, Elliot Abrams, and Guaido’s ally Leopoldo Lopez all claim senior figures in the Venezuelan government and military had given assurances they were going to switch to Guaido, but then didn’t:

This could be a lie, but what they’re saying is awfully specific and they’re not hidding their disappointment, Bolton:

They had documents they were prepared to sign with opposition leader Juan Guaido that would embody their agreement and the steps that would be taken. The Supreme Court would declare Maduro’s constituent assembly illegitimate. That would clarify for everybody, if anybody needed clarification, the legitimacy of the national assembly led by Juan Guaido. And then that would have allowed the military to cover themselves in a way, Defense Minister Padrino and others, to take action. Now for reasons that are still not clear, that didn’t go forward.”

So maybe a host of the most senior figures of the Bolivarian regime in Caracas was collectively plotting to switch over to Washington’s golden boy, but then all lost their nerve at the very last moment — or maybe as Moon of Alabama speculates, the Venezuelan intelligence (maybe with the help of the experienced Cubans) had played a game on the opposition:

There are signs though that the government of President Nicolas Maduro set a trap. Several people in the top echelon of the Venezuelan government gave false promises that they would join the U.S. proxy side. They snookered Guaidó into launching his coup to let him fail.

Everyone in Washington believed that significant figures in the Venezuelan government would change sides. They did not do so. Vladimir Padrino rejected the coup within an hour after Guaidó announced it. It seems that the Guaidó side got played by the Venezuelan Defense Minister and several other officials and officers. They seem to have promised to support Guaidó only to bait him into taking steps that would embarrass him.

So opposition and the US made contact with top Venezuelan figures, they reported the contact to their security services, and the spymasters told them to use the channel to send back disinformation. If that is how it went it sure would explain a lot. Including why Guaido is still walking free:

Guaidó and his backers in the Trump administration were made to believe that some significant elements of the Maduro government and of the army would turn on Maduro. They launched a coup attempt that fell apart within a few hours as no one changed sides. All their blustering has now been deflated. Guaidó has lost his credibility. Washington may still support him but in Caracas there is likely no one left who believes in him.

Imprisoned Guaido is a lighting rod for sanctions, walking around free he is a laughing stock.