In a world in which the United States was not the national equivalent of some guy running naked and screaming across the Brooklyn Bridge, driven out of his gourd by bath salts and PCP, one might imagine the U.S. government providing some meaningful assistance to starving Venezuelans or putting diplomatic pressure on Maduro to step down or at least stop being so authoritarian and corrupt.
But we do not live in that world. On the contrary, rumors of a U.S. coup have already bolstered Maduro’s position, because of the gruesome history of American intervention in the region in general and the blood-drenched history of recent right-wing American presidents in particular. In Latin America, the words “United States” immediately conjure up the United Fruit Company and its banana republic governments backed up by American guns, the Guatemalan Civil War started and fueled by the CIA, the Reagan-armed Contra death squads, the Bay of Pigs, and on and on. A modern Republican president speculating about military action, meanwhile, instantly conjures up the Iraq catastrophe, and the attempted U.S.-backed coup against Chavez in 2002.
On reports that Trump had considered a coup, Maduro’s foreign minister immediately took to Twitter.