Former U.S. diplomat Elliott Abrams, one of the masterminds behind the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, was appointed to lead the U.S. interference in Venezuela, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday.
Venezuela's Maduro Urges Dialogue Instead of US-backed Coup
“Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country,” Pompeo said in announcing Abrams’ appointment.
He said Abrams would accompany him to the United Nations on Saturday for a Security Council meeting on Venezuela where the U.S. will press other countries to support opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim head of state.
Abrams, appearing with Pompeo at a briefing for reporters, described the situation in Venezuela as “deep, difficult and dangerous.”
Pompeo said that Elliot’s first task would be to travel to New York and push the United Nations’ Security Council to recognize Guaido as the new president of Venezuela on Saturday. His following duties, said Pompeo, could take him to Latin America.
A neoconservative who has long advocated an interventionist U.S. role in the world, Abrams last served in government in the George W. Bush White House, first as a Middle East expert on the National Security Council and later as a global democracy strategy adviser. During that time, he “gave a nod to the attempted Venezuelan coup,” according to The Guardian.
Venezuelan plotters reportedly visited the White House several times, including Pedro Carmona, who acted as de facto president for the 47 the coup lasted, for months before the attempt. The U.S. government rushed to recognize the new government of Carmona, but their efforts were defeated by the Venezuelan revolution.
But Abrams’s record is not limited to Venezuela. His first high profile position started with the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s, when he assured military aid to the Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who came to power after a coup in 1982 and was later sentenced for genocide against the Mayan peoples in the Central American country. He was also convicted in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. However, he was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.
On Jan. 23, Guaido declared himself the acting president of Venezuela, with support from the U.S., the Organization of American States’ Luis Almagro and right-wing Latin American countries, pushing other governments to recognize him.