Venezuela looks like another Bay of Pigs debacle for the USA

What’s going on in Venezuela? Are we seeing another victory for western-friendly “people power”? Or are Washington and its allies heading into a debacle, like the US proxy invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961?

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Cuban site commemorating the battle at the Bay of Pigs (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Guaidó’s supporters have staged some very big street protests. But Chavistas — supporters of President Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez — have responded with massive counter-demonstrations.

No, these are not just Russian propaganda, although Russian media such as Ruptly have done an excellent job reporting them on video. Big Chavista demos have also been noticed by pillars of the western news media, such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle.

Only US media — e.g. this Washington Post report syndicated to the Sydney Morning Herald—have continued to insist that Chavista crowds are tiny…

The counter-demonstrations do not prove that Maduro is right about everything, or that Venezuela has no problems. Only that he still has a serious constituency with him.

Like it or not, key institutions such as the armed forces, civilian militia and the state oil company have stayed loyal to Maduro. The wannabe new leader, Juan Guaidó, has not only failed to gain their allegiance, he has also failed to split them.

Guaidó’s friends in Washington haven’t succeeded in isolating Maduro internationally either. As the mainstream media keeps reminding us, about 50 countries recognise Guaidó… but that is out of almost 200 member states of the United Nations.

Former colonising powers in Europe have sided with the US, while major countries which had to fight against colonialism — e.g. India, China and South Africa—have said a clear no to the US position.

What does all this have to do with the battle at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs in 1961?

Let’s recall what happened then…

It was two years after guerrilla fighters led by Fidel Castro had taken power from US ally Fulgencio Batista. Castro’s revolution led to a major exodus of people from the richer, more conservative classes.

US policy-makers, led by President John F. Kennedy, became convinced that Cubans generally hated Fidel Castro, and that the whole population would likely rebel against him the moment they got a chance.

So the CIA organised Cuban emigrants into an armed proxy force based in Guatemala — Brigade 2506. A surprise attack by bomber planes against Cuban airfields was followed by a landing from the sea to a beach in the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961.

But the landing failed to spark the hoped-for general rebellion against Castro. Local militia and regular Cuban forces did not welcome the US-backed fighters as brothers and liberators.

Instead the militia and the regulars fought back vigorously and effectively under Castro’s leadership… After three days, Brigade 2506 had to surrender.

US mission planners had fallen into an elementary flaw of reasoning — they’d mistaken the views of some Cubans for the views of all or most...

Why didn’t the US send in its own regular forces to help its pals? What would have happened if they did?

Presumably US marines could have occupied Havana and other cities, and either killed Fidel Castro or forced him to go underground.

But would that have been the end of the fight? Or would guerrilla warfare have gone on year after year, as in Vietnam and Afghanistan?

There is a old saying that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. President Kennedy wasn’t exactly an angel, but he wasn’t a fool either. He saw it was time to cut his losses.

If Guaidó’s coup campaign continues to flounder, will Donald Trump be as sensible as JFK?

Someone who likes sharing factual information and fragments of the big picture

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