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Trump officials held a series of covert meetings with Venezuelan military officers over the last year to discuss plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to a report by The New York Times published Saturday.
Participants in the talks, including anonymous U.S. officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who is on the U.S. sanctions list of corrupt officials in Venezuela, told the Times about several meetings that focused on Maduro’s failings.
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” Trump said last year.
“Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War,” the Times’ Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey wrote. In 2002, a failed coup attempt in Venezuela, later linked to officials in the George W. Bush administration, ousted Hugo Chávez from office for several years.
“This [information] is going to land like a bomb,” said Mari Carmen Aponte, a diplomat for Latin American affairs during the Obama administration.
Successful Latin American coups that included U.S. covert involvement were Guatemala in 1954 against Jacobo Árbenz, the Dominican Republic in 1961 against Rafael Trujillo, Brazil in 1964 against Joao Goulart, and Chile in 1973 against Salvador Allende. The CIA also attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro in Cuba multiple times.