Venezuelan leader Nicols Maduro has lost trust in his inner circle, cant venture out into public and is sleeping in a bunker as he clings to power in the shattered country, said Mauricio Claver-Carone, the senior director of the White House National Security Council.
Speaking at the Concordia conference in Colombias capital Tuesday, Claver-Carone, one of the Trump administrations key national security advisers, pushed back against the idea that a brief military uprising on April 30 in Caracas had been a failure, instead arguing that it had unveiled how many of Maduros closest allies were plotting against him.
One of the positive elements [we saw] is that there were many people involved, he said. And the amplitude of [the conspiracy] is much larger than has been reported.
I can count the people who support Maduro on one hand, he said. If pro-Maduro sentiment existed, he wouldnt have to be surrounded by Cubans and Russians.
On April 30 Juan Guaid the man whom Washington and more than 50 other nations recognize as the countrys legitimate leader called for a military uprising that fizzled. In the following days, U.S. officials claimed that Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lpez, Supreme Court President Maikel Moreno and the head of the presidential guard had agreed to help oust Maduro.
In the end, however, all three men failed to act, and it has been unclear if they abandoned the plot or never intended to follow through.
Claver-Carone said that the ambitions of some of the conspirators had led them to become greedy and doomed the plot. The Washington Post reported this week, citing anonymous sources, that Moreno might have poisoned the scheme by wanting to install himself as interim president.
Maduro has responded to the threat by targeting opposition congressmen. Last week officials jailed Edgard Zambrano, the vice president of the National Assembly and one of Guaids closest advisers, for his role in the uprising.
Treason charges have been filed against seven other deputies, and there have been requests to strip an additional four of their parliamentary immunity a precursor to an arrest warrant. On Tuesday, Carlos Vecchio, Guaids ambassador to the United States, said that a quarter of all opposition legislators in Venezuela are now in jail, in hiding or in exile.
Speaking at a separate panel at the Concordia conference, Vecchio said the attacks on the National Assembly, considered the last bastion of opposition control, have been constant.