“Tic tac” is Spanish for “tick tock”, the sound of a clock. It’s also a slogan of the supporters of Juan Guaidó, the self-declared transitional president of Venezuela.
Guaidó’s people apparently thought that time and history are on their side. Considering what has happened over the last month, and especially in the weekend just past, it doesn’t look that way…
On January 23 — just over one month ago — Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s acting head of state. Since then he has achieved… what?
President Maduro has not stepped down. Juan Guaidó does not occupy the presidential palace. The Venezuelan armed forces have not changed sides, nor have they split.
Guaidó’s only partial success has been the support he received from governments of other countries, over 50 of which have recognised him as Venezuela’s leader.
But that is out of just under 200 member states of the United Nations, and does not represent an international consensus in his favour.
Countries which have had anti-imperialist revolutions in the last century or so — for instance China, India, South Africa, Iran and Mexico — have generally rejected US positions on Venezuela.
After four weeks of posturing and demonstrating, Guaidó tried to use so-called humanitarian aid from the USA as a way of taking over control of the country’s borders, or at least sections of the borders.
The US sent packages of hand-outs into neighbouring Colombia in military aircraft, for Guaido and his supporters to bring into Venezuela.
It was a strange thing to do. After all, if the US government really wanted to help the Venezuelans, why not just lift the sanctions it had imposed on them?
Nonetheless, Trump made a speech in Miami warning that Venezuelan military people must not obstruct import of the aid, and that those who supported Maduro were “risking their lives”.
Could Venezuelans defy the commander-in-chief of superpower USA?
As it turned out, the answer is yes — they could, and they did.
Crowds of pro-Guaido demonstrators assembled on the Columbian side of border to escort trucks of hand-outs into Venezuela.
But people loyal to Maduro established barricades, and no truck was able to pass.
Guaidó’s coup has failed. The question is, why?
The coup failed because too many people in Venezuela opposed it — not only in the armed forces, but also on the streets.
The coup failed because President Maduro had the courage and the ability to mobilise his supporters against it.
Maduro countered rightwing and pro-US people-power with leftwing and anti-imperialist people-power.
Pro-Maduro people-power has been under-reported in the mainstream western news media, though not entirely overlooked.
The BBC and Deutsche Welle mentioned big pro-Maduro (as well as anti-Maduro) demonstrations on February 2. The US news channel PBS recently took the trouble to interview pro-Maduro (Chavista) people campaigning in Caracas.
And whatever you think of the Russians, their news channel Ruptly has covered pro-Maduro demonstrations in a way western channels have not.
The coup failed because US policy makers and Guaidó had a simplistic view about their leftist Chavista opponents.
They claimed (and presumably believed) that Maduro represented a small clique, that almost the whole population would support a campaign against that clique, and that the army would desert Maduro as well.
They assumed that threats from Washington would cow their opponents, rather than energise them.
They knew too little about past national liberation movements — campaigns against dominating great powers and against those who collaborate with them…
They knew too little history.