The Venezuelan opposition held secret talks with some members of the country’s government that could have been a success, but “for now, it appears to have failed”, The Washington Post reports.
The newspaper cited unnamed White House officials as saying that for weeks, the opposition had been elaborating a comprehensive blueprint to force President Nicolas Maduro from office, finally producing “a pretty full plan”.
The sources argued that the US did not directly participate in the opposition’s secret negotiations with Maduro officials.
“We were aware of the efforts, beginning about two months ago. There were times when it seemed serious, and other times not so serious,” the sources pointed out.
According to them, over the past few weeks, it has become clear that “they were reaching agreement” on many key members of the administration switching sides, with Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez, as well as the head of the Maduro-appointed Supreme Court and the commander of his presidential guard.
The sources added that while not officially recognising opposition leader Juan Guaido, “Padrino and the others were said to be ready to sign documents declaring their loyalty to the Venezuelan constitution, under which the opposition-led National Assembly had declared Maduro’s reelection last year invalid and, on 23 January, named Guaido interim president.”
“In exchange, the Venezuelan officials would keep their jobs and be integrated into the new administration. For those who might want to leave the country, the United States had given indirect assurances they would not be barred from doing so, and might even be allowed access to any assets stashed overseas,” the officials claimed.
On 30 April, however, Padrino emerged on live television, declaring the uprising a attempted coup and denouncing protesters’ rallies in the streets. He also described reports of defections and the government's collapse as “fake news”.
The political turmoil in Venezuela escalated earlier that day, after Guaido announced the start of the “final phase” of the opposition campaign to oust the government of President Maduro.
The situation in Venezuela became exacerbated in January, when Guaido proclaimed himself interim president, receiving immediate support from the US, its Latin American allies, Canada and Europe.
Caracas blamed the US for trying to orchestrate a coup, with Russia, China, Turkey, and dozens of other countries signalling their backing of Maduro, or urging non-interference in Venezuela's internal affairs.