There are a few rules for how to topple a government. Make sure that you have
unsympathetic soldiers from intervening. Spread money around, to inspire
loyalty. Determine which part of the populace will join your uprising,
which part will resist, and which part will stand aside and watch.
Neutralize the resistance quickly; take over the media so that you can
disseminate orders. Once the ruler is displaced, kill him or hustle him
out of the country as fast as you can.
When Juan Guaidó, the
leader of Venezuela’s uprising, announced the “final phase of Operation
Freedom,” on April 30th, he seemed to have done none of those things. He
arrived before dawn outside the La Carlota airbase, in Caracas, and
recorded a video declaring that the time had come to force out the
country’s increasingly tyrannical ruler, Nicolás Maduro.
Guaidó, thirty-five years old, had recently been named the speaker of
the National Assembly, and he looked a bit surprised to find himself
where he was. With a few dozen military sympathizers at his side, he
said, “There have been years of sacrifice. There have been years of
persecution. There have been years of fear, even. Today, that fear is