Marco Rubio and coup leaders are accusing the Venezuelan National Guard, but Max Blumenthal lines up opposing evidence.
The Trump administration’s coup against Venezuela culminated on Feb. 23 with U.S.-backed opposition attempting to ram several trucks loaded with boxes of USAID “humanitarian aid” across the previously unused Francisco de Paula Santander bridge connecting Colombia to Venezuela.
The trucks failed to reach the other side — but that was never really the point of the stunt. As Father Sergio Munoz, a right-wing Venezuelan activist posted on the Colombian side of the border, explained to journalist Dan Cohen, the humanitarian “aid” was a purely symbolic provocation aimed at discrediting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduroin international eyes and generating waves of destabilizing violence.
By the end of the day, the trucks lined up on the Francisca de Paula Santander bridge were flanked by gangs of guarimberos.
These were the nihilistic masked youth who form the shock troops of the right-wing opposition, and who placed Caracas under siege with violent barricade protests, known as guarimbas, at several points between 2014 and 2017. A mob of guarimberos burned to death Orlando Figuera, a 22-year old black Venezuelan accused of supporting Maduro, on an eastern Caracas street in broad daylight, back in June 2017.
On the Santander bridge this Feb. 23, the guarimberos rained down a hail of rocks and molotov cocktails on Venezuelan national guardsmen holding the line against the USAID trucks. Suddenly, the trucks caught fire and the masked youth began unloading boxes of aid before they burned. Within minutes, pro-opposition media reported that the Venezuelan national guard forces were responsible for the fires.
A reporter for the private anti-government channel NTN24 claimed without evidence that the Venezuelan security forces had caused the fires with tear gas:
Another false flag at the border with Colombia. A “reporter” from @NTN24ve (opposition tv known for fake news) said a truck went on fire because the Venezuelan police launched tear gas. Let me know if you’ve seen tear gas…