|By the end of the day, the coup attempt fizzled out. It helped little on the streets of Caracas that the entire US establishment – from the President to Senators – cheered on Guaidó and openly asked the military to mutiny. The few soldiers who did cross the line – blue armbands on – hastened to the Brazilian embassy to seek asylum. Leopoldo López, who left his house arrest for this adventure, made a dash for the Chilean embassy. López, Guaidó and Edgar Zambrano met on a bridge near the military base, chastised by the lack of support, their bravado deflated, the fate of the nation in the hands of others.
By nightfall, it was clear that the coup – one of many attempted in Venezuela – had failed. This was despite the clear support delivered to Guaidó by the United States and by the Lima Group, set up in 2017 to overthrow the government in Venezuela. What prevented the coup – despite the difficult conditions inside Venezuelan society – was the mass mobilisation in the streets. I recall seeing some of these rallies earlier this year, the people determined to protect the sovereignty of their country, determined to allow the Bolivarian process to stumble along against all odds. It is this that continues to prevent – for now (as Chávez would say) – the victory of the oligarchy and its outside backers.
The Lima Group comprises most of the right-wing Latin American political forces. But it has one unusual member, one who has been at the forefront of its efforts – Canada. Why is Canada, otherwise so particular about putting forward a face of liberalism and decency, at the lead of trying to overthrow a government by force?
A close look at Canada’s government and its business interests reveals something quite different than the casual liberalism of its reputation. In 2017, three Canadian professors – Shin Imai, Leah Gardner and Sarah Weinberger – released a study called The ‘Canada Brand’: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America. They show that between 2000 and 2015, at least 44 people had been killed as a result of violence around Canadian-owned mines in Latin America. The stories are chilling, the violence routine and deadly.