Venezuela stymies regime change

venezuelamaduroFrom Argentina to Yemen, from Brazil to Syria, from the Democratic Republic of Korea to Iran, U.S. imperialism has conducted non-stop “regime change” campaigns. These political, economic and often military campaigns are all designed to do one thing: overturn those governments that put up an obstacle to the rapacious greed of U.S. banks and corporations.

For the last 19 years U.S. imperialism has tried to overturn Venezuela’s pro-socialist government now led by President Nicolás Maduro. In 2002 it masterminded a military coup against President Hugo Chávez, whose seizure by rightists sparked a huge popular uprising that stopped the coup leaders and the Pentagon in their tracks. Washington and the Venezuelan rightists have never stopped their subversion.

The latest attempt was a right-wing signature drive for a recall election of President Maduro. An Oct. 21 ruling by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council cancelling the recall for 2016 has stymied U.S. imperialism’s plans. For now. The initial petition drive, the council announced, contained 605,727 irregularities, over 30 percent, including signatures from over 10,000 deceased people. (telesurtv.net, Oct. 21)

This is a key setback. It means that even if the recall campaign succeeds next year, the pro-socialist vice president would take over when Maduro would be forced to step down. This would leave progressive forces in office at least until regular elections are held in 2018.

Because presenting false signatures on a petition is a criminal offense, the government has ruled that eight right-wing politicians, responsible for the recall campaign, cannot leave the country.

Frothing at the mouth, the right-wing leaders have gone so far as to press the military to stage a coup. “Hopefully the armed forces will have people respect the constitution,” said Henrique Capriles, head of Justice First and one of the leaders of the rightist MUD (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática) coalition.

Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio is leading the U.S. charge to overturn the Venezuelan government, promising “concrete consequences” for “violating democratic norms.” (abcnews.go.com, Oct. 22)

Comparison with U.S. Pinkney case

Right now the Rev. Edward Pinkney rots in a Michigan prison. He was sentenced to up to 10 years because some of the signatures on the recall petitions for Benton Harbor’s mayor contained the wrong dates. Unlike what happened in Venezuela, none of the signatures in Michigan were found to be invalid. And no evidence was presented that Rev. Pinkney had anything to do with discrepancies on the petitions.

But Rev. Pinkney was standing up to the giant multinational Whirlpool Corporation, which runs the politics and courts in Benton Harbor. He was supporting the oppressed African-American community there. Those were his crimes in the eyes of Wall Street and its minions.

The Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has used revenue from the country’s vast oil reserves to fund key social programs that have greatly lifted the living standard of the country’s poor people. Chávez won election after election until he died in 2013.

Venezuelans elected Maduro to a five-year term as president that year. But then the world price of oil collapsed, causing extreme economic problems for Venezuela, including a spike in inflation. The Maduro government has struggled to preserve gains for the workers and poor, including proclaiming a 50 percent pay increase for workers and debit cards with emergency cash for the poorest Venezuelans.

Venezuela’s reactionary capitalists have used the problems, seeing in them an opportunity to further destabilize the country’s economy and government. Factory owners have restricted production and diverted up to 40 percent of needed commodities to illegal street sales and even to other countries. Some organized gangs have been hired to firebomb government buildings and attack government security forces.

In response to the rightist offensive, on Sept. 1 thousands of Venezuelans packed Avenida Bolivar in the capital city of Caracas to support Maduro. The workers and poor have a right to defend their sovereign country from attack by Venezuelan capitalists and the imperialist colossus that stands behind them.