A "democratic" U.S. government legally elected by a minority of the vote is now calling for democracy in Venezuela by attempting to overthrow its government, which was recently elected by a more than two-thirds vote after a highly-fragmented political opposition abstained from participation (on U.S. instructions) because it lacked popular support and felt that it was unlikely to win. The point man for the regime change operation is Elliott Abrams, whose biography tells us everything we need to know to evaluate the alleged democratic intentions of the Trump administration.
A fire-breathing fanatic for imperial Israel who championed the invasion and destruction of Iraq, Abrams was formerly Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights for the Reagan administration, and famously called U.S./Salvadorean death-squad operations that produced tens of thousands of mutilated civilian corpses (1979-1994) a "fabulous achievement." He also claimed that the Nicaraguan contras, famous for torture, rape, and murder in a campaign to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua, would one day be fondly remembered as "folk heroes." Today he is a member of the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, which was created to be a continuation of CIA skullduggery by other means, and currently finances Washington's destabilization efforts not only in Venezuela, but also in Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Cuba. Convicted of lying to Congress about Iran-Contra, Abrams called his prosecutors "filthy bastards," dismissed the proceedings as "Kafkaesque," and denounced the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee as "pious clowns." After hearing Abrams' testimony, then Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton expressed a common reaction: "I want to puke."
So much for Washington seeking democracy, as though we didn't already know. For the plain fact is that there is more democracy in Venezuela now, where members of the vast poor majority can be routinely found in animated political discussion of the events that shape their lives, than there has ever been in the United States, where the poor are deliberately excluded from representation or even consideration, and have therefore long since dismissed politics as a sensible concern.
But if not democracy, what then is the U.S.'s motivation in Venezuela? Well, Venezuela has large gold and nickel reserves, along with the largest oil supply in the world. Gaining control of such resources is an attractive prospect for any U.S. president, but especially for one under siege from multiple investigations and constant media questioning of his legitimacy. Making America great again by plundering Venezuela oil supplies would be an imperial achievement that the entire U.S. political class would admire. Witness Nancy Pelosi reaching across the aisle to tweet support for the coup right off the bat, to wit: "America stands by the people of #Venezuela as they rise up against authoritarian rule and demand respect for human rights and democracy." Who says Trump and the Democrats can't get along?
Though the current coup in Venezuela has roots going back to 2002 (when President Chavez was kidnapped and nearly killed by the U.S. backed "opposition"), long before any economic crisis was even on the horizon, giddy triumphalists of American Empire stridently declare that the Venezuelan crisis proves nothing more than the "failure of socialism." Ignoring the deliberate U.S. policy of sowing economic chaos, they denounce the Bolivarian Revolution as a sham on the grounds that its supposed beneficiaries are now allegedly suffering mass starvation due to lunatic Marxist policies run amok.
Except that there is no mass starvation, the mass Chavista base remains intact, and the Venezuelan economy is overwhelmingly in private hands.
In other words, the entire thesis of "socialism has failed" is a propaganda offensive, not a news story. And those who try to make Venezuela a news story by getting out the real facts on the ground are regularly threatened with being burned alive by the U.S.-led political opposition now claiming it wants to re-establish democracy in Venezuela. In recent years it has attacked and killed dozens of poor black Chavistas in the streets (often torched), attempting to provoke police responses that can subsequently be denounced as socialist "authoritarianism." Imagine the reaction in the United States if a foreign power were sowing arson and murder in the U.S. in an effort to force Trump out of office for having lost the popular vote in 2016. We'd launch a nuclear war.
There are, of course, real economic issues, such as hyper-inflation and food shortages. However, the shortages are often of staple items produced by a handful of companies that withhold them from the market as a form of class warfare. In any case, the crippling sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in 2015 on the ludicrous pretext that Venezuela represents a national security threat to the United States have made the situation worse, not better (as intended).
With the Trump administration now extending the sanctions to the energy sector, a solution could become outright impossible. About one-third of Venezuelan exports are to the United States, and Venezuela meets about 40% of its economic needs through the foreign exchange it earns by exporting. If it can't export to the U.S. it suffers a huge loss of income that previously went for purchasing imports. This is the heart of Washington's longstanding "make the economy scream" strategy previously successfully employed in Chile (1973) to overthrow a socialist government and install a dictator (Augusto Pinochet), who promptly initiated a bloodbath.
To make a long story short, the current crisis has been meticulously planned, nurtured, and yearned for for years by U.S. imperial strategists, who are now perfectly delighted, not appalled, by the crisis. For them to call the situation a failure of socialism is like the Boston strangler pronouncing his strangled female corpses a failure of feminism.
There is nothing to discuss with the Venezuelan opposition, which is obviously only interested in the complete eradication of the Bolivarian Revolution, the detested policy of meeting the needs of Venezuela's poor black and Indian majority with Venezuelan oil revenue. It would be nothing less than treason to collaborate with these right-wing demagogues. At the same time, however, it would be suicidal to pretend that the U.S. is not exploiting real popular disenchantment with Chavez and Maduro's economic policies, especially Maduro's exchange controls.
But let's let Venezuelans solve their problems for themselves, not force them to submit to imperial ultimatums.
Postscript: With John Bolton talking about privatizing Venezuelan oil, it is clear that more is at stake than just overturning the entire Bolivarian revolution. Venezuelan oil was nationalized in 1976, so Bolton's plans are to reverse the last 43 years of history.
Sources for this article:
Terry J. Allen, "Public Serpent: Iran Contra Villain Elliott Abrams Is Back," In These Times, August 2001
Abby Martin, Greg Wilpert, and Paul Jay,"Attempted Coup in Venezuela" Real News Network, January 25, 2019
William Blum, "Trojan Horse: The National Endowment For Democracy," www.williamblum.org
William Blum,"Killing Hope: U.S. Military And CIA Interventions Since World War II," Common Courage Press, 1995
Brendan O'Brien, "Venezuela's opposition is not so innocent," The Guardian, August 18, 2017
Interview with Maduro, Ignacio Ramonet and President Nicolas Maduro, The Greanville Post, January 24, 2019, reprinted by The Axis of Logic
"Venezuela Propaganda Debunked - People Are Against Coup," Jimmy Dore Show, January 27, 2019
Aram Aharonian, "In Spite of Its Failures, The United States Continues International Offensive Against Venezuela," January 28, 2019, www.rebelion.org (Spanish)
Argumentum Ad Venezuelum, BadMouseProductions, You Tube, August 30, 2017
For more on Venezuela, see:
"Imperial Demon Watch: Hugo Chavez", Legalienate, August 4, 2007
"Hugo Chavez, Lion of the Left," Legalienate, March 8, 2013