Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Venezuela in the Crosshairs

When a weak country determines to choose its own future, it usually finds that a larger and more powerful neighbor has other ideas.

Like Venezuela.

Hugo Chavez, a former military officer, won the presidency of Venezuela in 1999, brought a new Bolivarian[1] constitution into being, and took control of PDVSA, the Venezuelan national oil company, using its profits for the benefit of the poor, instead of stuffing them into the bank accounts of the elite. For these outrageous acts Chavez’s Bolivarian party immediately became a target of the power elite in both Venezuela and the United States.

Since Chavez assumed office, four successive US administrations have repeatedly attempted to overthrow his government. The first attempt was in 2002, when the US supported a coup by the kleptocracy that ruled Venezuela before Chavez was elected. A massive uprising of the people defeated the coup and restored Chavez to power. After a number of years spent undermining the Bolivarian government headed by Chavez and then by Nicolas Maduro, the US is now supporting a slow-motion coup that is weakening Maduro’s government and tearing apart Venezuela. A precipitous drop in world oil prices, exacerbated by cruel economic sanctions imposed by the United States has decimated the economy. Like Chile in 1973, the ground is being laid.[2]

The speaker of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaido, has recently declared himself President. The US government, together with the sycophants making up its worldwide empire, has recognized this unelected, self-proclaimed pretender as the legitimate president of Venezuela. The inconvenient fact, that Maduro became president by winning a majority of votes in a fair election, is irrelevant.

While Maduro’s government still holds power, it relies upon 1) the poor who have been the chief beneficiaries of the Bolivarian government, 2) the army, and 3) the other security forces that still support Maduro. The US, along with the heads of neighboring governments, are even now enticing the ranking officers of the Venezuelan army to switch their allegiance to the pretender. If they succeed, Venezuelans can look forward to years of brutal, authoritarian, right-wing government, much like the one that ruled Venezuela before Chavez.

If you want to see who is causing the rioting, destruction, and violent demonstrations in the cities of Venezuela, examine carefully the complexion of the rioters pictured in the media. Members of the upper class in Venezuela are of European origin and are therefore light-skinned, whereas the poor are the descendants of indigenous Indians and former slaves, all of whom have dark skin.

Draw your own conclusions.

The upper crust, backed by the army and paramilitaries, has historically monopolized the vast resources of the nation for itself, while the indigenous population has suffered grinding poverty. The elite hated Chavez when he was in office. Now they hate Maduro because neither Chavez nor Maduro were one of them.

The US media is closing ranks by refusing to publish news or opinion contradicting the official narrative. It portrays the kleptocratic class not as former oppressors, but as victims of the Chavistas, especially Maduro and his government. They report demonstrations, often violent, as the work of Maduro and his supporters. They demonize Maduro and his government as vicious authoritarians. They label the Bolivarian democracy established by Chavez as communist, socialist, dictatorial, inept, destructive, or by any other label they can use to defame the current, legimately elected, government. While not yet hanging by a thread, Maduro is being forced to deal with a slow-motion coup. A large segment of the population still suports Maduro, however, and would likely resist in the event of a coup or a US invasion.

Over the last few days, Twitter and Facebook have blocked thousands of accounts that support the Bolivarian government, justifying their actions on grounds of violation of their terms of usage. Venezuelan Analysis, a source of alternative news and information about Venezuela since 2003, was one of these[3]. The media companies have been cagey as to exactly which of their terms these account holders have violated. Google has refused to carry their advertisments for some time and now has reduced the page rank of websites that support Maduro. The latter action is a subtle way of disappearing websites that contradict the propaganda of the U.S. power elite.

The Bush administration invaded Iraq in 2003 under similar pretenses and attracted the same support from the media and the military-industrial complex. Dissenting voices were silenced or fired. Phil Donahue, one of the most popular commentators on his network, was summarily dismissed after voicing his opposition to the invasion on the air[4]. A large proportion of the American public believed the lies that the Bush administration spread throughout the media. Although massive demonstrations took place all over the world in opposition to the invasion, the invasion proceeded on schedule and led to a chain of consequences that plague the middle east to this day. The only beneficiaries of that invasion were military contractors (paid by the rest of us).

It will be the same this time. Even if the US does not succeed in conquering Venezuela, the contractors will be the real victors.

  1. Simón Bolívar (1783–1830) led multiple expeditionary forces against the Spaniards, and between 1819 and 1822 he successfully liberated three territories—New Granada (Colombia and Panama), Venezuela, and Quito (Ecuador)—from Spanish rule. With the help of Argentine revolutionary José de San Martín, Bolívar freed Peru (1824) and what was to become Bolivia (1825) too. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article on Simón Bolívar; Last Updated 1/30/2019..  ↩

  2. In 1973, a military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, army commander in chief, overthrew the government of Chile, headed by Salvator Allende, and imposed a brutal and murderous military dictatorship until 1998. The coup was preceded by the imposition of economic sanctions by the US that reduced Chile to chaos. The US is currently following the same playbook in Venezuela. The architect of the 1973 coup was Henry Kissinger, who served as head of the National Security Council and then Secretary of State (1973–1977) under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He was appointed to the latter position the day that Allende died, probably by suicide.  ↩

  3. Venezuelanalysis.com is a project of Venezuela Analysis, Inc., which is registered as a non-profit organization in New York State, and of the Fundación para la Justicia Económica Global, a foundation registered in Caracas, Venezuela.  ↩

  4. MSNBC was a subsidiary of General Electric at that time. General Electric is one of the largest defense contractors in the US. MSNBC is now a subsidiary of NBC-Universal, which is owned by Comcast.  ↩


Tom Lowe said...

The London Review of Books has posted an article on Venezuela outside the firewall.

Tom Lowe said...

Reporter Greg Palast has posted several first-class articles on the situation in Venezuela.

This is real reporting. You will learn more about what is happening in Venezuela than you would from all the mainstream media, which echoes the US Government line.

I have been following Palast online for at least 20 years and found him to be a reliable journalist. Palast's reporting is carried outside the US, but not acknowledged in the US media. His invisibility reminds me of Noam Chomsky, whose books were popular around the world but ignored by the media until he started showing up online, particularly on YouTube, where they could no longer ignore him.