The Trump administration dabbled in aiding a military overthrow of Venezuela's president but ultimately just met with coup plotters—a development that could still anger Latin American leaders wary of any possible US intervention, the New York Times reports. Seems American officials met with Venezuelan military officers at least three times abroad and listened to their plans, however vague, to kick out President Nicolás Maduro and install a transitional government. But according to those involved, the US never gave them the encrypted radios they requested and backed away when roughly 150 plotters were arrested in a crackdown. Apparently the whole thing began with an off-hand remark by President Trump.
"We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option," the president said at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club last year, the Guardian reported. Those words inspired rebellious Venezuelan officers to reach out during the nation's economic collapse, but US officials say the Venezuelans lacked specific ideas and hoped the Americans would offer a plan. According to an ex-military commander in Venezuela, the US dallied while coup plotters waited: "We were frustrated," he said. No coup attempt happened, but the meetings could remind Latin Americans of past interventions like the US-backed Chilean coup in 1973 and support for right-wing Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s. "This is going to land like a bomb" in the region, says a former US diplomat.