So 23rd February came and went. This was the day that had been billed by the US and its local puppets as D-Day, when 'humanitarian aid' was supposed to enter the country against the will of the evil Maduro. Even a BBC correspondent admitted that this had little to do with aid and everything to do with defying the authority of President Maduro.
In his madness, Guaidó ("White Dog" as Venezuelans call him) had addressed himself to the Venezuelan armed forces, giving himself the title of "commander-in-chief"! What next? Pope? Nobel Prize winner?
En mi condición de Comandante en Jefe de la Fuerza Armada Nacional, dadas las circunstancias excepcionales que vive la República, dejo sin efecto la calificación de Traidores a la Patria, para efectivos militares que crucen la frontera.#23FAvalanchaHumanitaria— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 23, 2019
Events started on Friday 22nd with billionaire Richard Branson's concert at the Tienditas bridge on the Venezuela-Colombia border. This is the bridge that Marco Rubio had claimed was blocked by the "Maduro regime", even though the bridge had never been actually inaugurated nor opened to traffic.
The media, of course, repeated this lie ad nauseam, with only CBC bothering to issue a retraction. Branson's "Live Aid" was supposed to attract half a million people, but in the end it was a rather paltry affair, with 20,000 in attendance maximum.
Artists who have never raised even a little finger for the poor and those subject to human rights violations in their own countries rallied to help the poor Venezuelans, hundreds of thousands of whom are supposedly about to die if aid doesn't arrive, flown in by the US army, according to Guaidó.
Already, on Friday, there was a fatal incident, which the world's media circus immediately latched onto. In an armed clash in Kumarakapay, Bolivar state, one or perhaps two Pemón were killed. The capitalist media immediately ran the headline: "two dead as Maduro opens fire on aid convoy", or words to that effect. This is a straight lie. CBC in Canada even talked of the incident having involved tanks!
What really happened is not completely clear yet. But what we know is that some Pemón people from the local town (which is 80 km away from the Brazilian border) attempted to stop a convoy of buses (not tanks) from the National Guard on their way to the border. In the standoff, two were killed, the opposition claims from National Guard fire.
Later on, Guaidó claimed that a truck of aid had crossed the border from Brazil. This proved to be another straight lie. Guaidó and his minders, who had all gathered in Cúcuta (not Cucutá, as foreign journalists call it), was desperate to show some sign of success in a day which didn't go according to plan.
The gathering at Cúcuta was impressive. The Chilean President Piñera (and admirer of General Pinochet); OAS secretary general Almagro; convicted perjurer and human rights abuser Elliot Abrams; Miami Cuban mafia boss Marco Rúbio: they were all there to pile on the pressure and even, perhaps, to be present for a picture opportunity at the fall of a dictator. But they were disappointed - and not only with the "artists" Branson had hired.
Army remains firm
Last Friday they brought out a high profile "defection", that of "Pollo" (the chicken) Carvajal: a former, high-ranking military and intelligence officer. The small details that the New York Times interview didn't provide are, firstly, that he had already joined the opposition ranks in August 2017, so this was not really a defection at all. Secondly, he has been accused by the DEA and the Treasury of all sorts of crimes (narcotrafficking; collaboration with the FARC; being an agent of Hezbollah) and that this is likely to be his motivation now in accusing the Venezuelan government officials of those same things.
The truth is that the key element in this coup attempt, a fracture in the armed forces, has not materialised. Guaidó (despite his delusions of grandeur), is not a president, but rather an opposition deputy (as even CNN and the BBC call him these days).
So desperate was Guaidó to be in on the action that he crossed the border, illegally, and attended Branson's recital, where he was given a hero's welcome. Perhaps Colombian President Duque was a bit worried that Guaidó, on seeing the crowd, would decide to proclaim himself president...of Colombia!
The problem for Trump's "president in charge" will now be that the border has been closed and he has therefore become a "president in exile". Or perhaps that was his elegant way of abandoning a plot that was not going according to plan.
The attempt to push the 'aid' through the border was not successful, to the disappointment of the gathered dignitaries.
In the morning, two Venezuelan National Guards commandeered two armoured vehicles and rammed them against the fences on one of the border bridges. They injured a female police officer and a Chilean journalist. They jumped out of the vehicles and ran for the Colombian border, where Venezuelan opposition politicians welcomed them.
2. Este fue justo el momento de la acción terrorista observe con atención los 3 GNB bajaron con sus armas, pensé que le dispararían a la gente que quería cruzar a #Venezuela allí lo recibieron Jode M Olivares y Vicar Fernández con autoridades colombianas "son nuestros" pic.twitter.com/AhOtqmdAqz— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) February 23, 2019
One of the politicians had been released from jail as part of attempts by the Maduro government to appease the opposition, despite having been charged with violent rioting. That tells you all you need to know about attempts to mollify the opposition. In the end, the three national guards happened to consist of one who worked in the kitchen and two others with admin positions. Hardly a full-blown military coup, then.
Later in the day, we saw images of Guaidó on the side of an articulated lorry carrying USAID parcels. He made a heroic pose for the cameras, but as the lorry convoy approached the border crossing he disappeared quietly, leaving the actual heroic job of going through police lines to his followers. They did try, but a few tear gas canisters and rubber bullets were all that was required to disperse this mob.
As well as the National Guard, also protecting the border were hundreds of civilians who had arrived from different parts of the country, including a contingent from the Bolivar Zamora Revolutionary Current from Apure with their Hugo Chavez Peoples Defence Brigades.
Frustrated at their lack of progress and inability to break through police lines, opposition supporters set fire to one of the aid lorries. It seems aid was not so precious after all!
Of course, now they are trying to blame the Venezuelan border guards for the burning of the lorry. Aerial footage shows how guards were at a distance from the lorry, and close-up pictures show Venezuelan opposition supporters setting it on fire. Don't expect fair reporting of this incident either.
Imagen de @VTVcanal8 señalando la ubicación del piquete de la Guardia Nacional Bolivariana y de los camiones con supuesta "ayuda humanitaria" que fueron incendiados, aclarando que no fueron quemados por la GNB. #VenezuelaEnDefensaDeLaPaz pic.twitter.com/wZuW544raR— Luigino Bracci Roa (@lubrio) February 23, 2019
3. Veamos nuevamente quienes son los responsables de quemar los camiones ¿alguna duda? pic.twitter.com/cxUchPrEXw— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) February 23, 2019
In total, throughout the day, a dozen Venezuelan National Guards crossed the border. The Colombian foreign affairs minister claims it was 60, but we can take that claim with a pinch of salt.
The main balance of the day can be found in this CNN Spanish subheading: "la entrega no se logró" ("the delivery failed"). In fact, in their morning press conference, the assembled gang already had doubts and announced a further meeting on Monday where they would impose more sanctions.
Meanwhile, in Caracas, a large Chavista march took place to reject imperialist intervention.
Huge crowd at Av Urdaneta today in Caracas rejecting imperialist intervention - you will not see these images in CNN nor BBC and the Guardian will not report it #TrumpHandsOffVenezuela #HandsOffVenezuela pic.twitter.com/QH0TWbaix9— Hands Off Venezuela (@HOVcampaign) February 23, 2019
This was a sizeable demonstration. The threat of imperialism is provoking a counter-reaction in which even many who are disillusioned with or critical of Maduro are closing ranks against US aggression (watch this PBS report to get an idea of this). At the rally, Maduro announced he was breaking all diplomatic relations with Colombia.
The NY Times correspondent at the border summed up the day with these words:
Feeling like the momentum is getting lost on the bridge. The rally feel of yesterday is gone and the bridge looks more like a press conference with frustrated regional leaders. pic.twitter.com/z9SsjxCVN8— Nick Casey (@caseysjournal) February 23, 2019
"Feeling like the momentum is getting lost on the bridge. The rally feel of yesterday is gone and the bridge looks more like a press conference with frustrated regional leaders."
Frustrated is the key word. Imperialism did not achieve its aims, and that's a victory for our side.