When Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido last week called on the military to oust socialist president Nicolas Maduro, thousands of supporters clashed with police and the White House cheered the move.
National security adviser John Bolton described the stakes in stark terms. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JOHN BOLTON, SAYING (TUESDAY): "If this effort fails, they will sink into a dictatorship from which there are very few possible alternatives.
It's a very delicate moment." But the military high command stuck with Maduro, the protests petered out, and on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged the reality on the ground.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: 'We're not there yet.
We won't be successful until the day that we are, and we are determined to see that the Venezuelan people have their democracy restored, as are 54 other nations." On Sunday Guaido told The Washington Post he had overestimated his support among the armed forces.
And Maduro has made a point of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the military, and calling the protests a failed U.S.-backed coup.
On Saturday, Venezuelan state TV showed him reviewing training exercises.
But the opposition hasn't given up.
Over the weekend activists delivered memos to soldiers at a military base, asking for their support.
This was the response.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) GUAIDO SUPPORTER, ROMEL MOROT, SAYING (SATURDAY): "The soldier received it and it was a miracle I was not burned because as soon as he received it, he set fire to it in a way which was mean but I don't care, we are used to that." American ambitions foiled for now, U.S. officials last week were quick to blame Cuba and Russia for propping up Maduro.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING (TUESDAY): "We literally had Nicolas Maduro getting prepared to get on his airplane and head out of the country before he was stopped.
Stopped really at the direction of the Russians." This blame-the-Russians narrative was somewhat undercut on Friday, when President Donald Trump suggested Russian leader Vladimir Putin and he shared the same goals.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING (FRIDAY): "I had a very good talk with President Putin and probably over an hour [FLASH] And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he'd like to see something positive happen for Venezuela, and I feel the same way." [FLASH] (SOUNDBITE) (English) CBS NEWS ANCHOR MARGARET BRENNAN, SAYING: "There seems to be a difference in how the president describes the situation and how you and Ambassador Bolton have described it." (SOUNDBITE) (English) (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "No.
No difference." On Sunday Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov condemned what he called a campaign to overthrow Maduro, and called on Washington to abandon its "irresponsible" plans.
Pompeo and Lavrov will meet in Finland on Monday.