Why is the U.S. attacking Venezuela?

“No good deed goes unpunished” could be a motto for U.S. foreign policy.

More than 200,000 poor families in 23 states and Washington, D.C., got free heating oil from CITGO, which is owned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Former U.S. congressperson Joseph P. Kennedy II, the eldest son of Ethel and Bobby Kennedy, helped coordinate the program, which was initiated by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. (Washington Post, Jan. 6, 2009)

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, both Cuba and Venezuela offered to send doctors and medical supplies. President George Bush contemptuously refused the aid, preferring to let Black and poor people drown and starve instead.

So why did President Barack Obama label Venezuela on March 9, 2015, an “extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”? And why did Obama, in one of his last presidential acts, renew sanctions on Venezuela?

Venezuela’s foreign minister, Delcy Rodríguez, said the renewal constituted a “grave violation of international law.” (AP, Jan. 14) Earlier the Non-Aligned Movement of 120 countries had condemned the sanctions against Venezuela. (TeleSUR, Feb. 8, 2015)

Venezuela is going through rough times, with the price of oil — its main export — being cut in half. Workers are exposing economic sabotage by the rich, which includes the hoarding of food.

The U.S. government sanctions are aimed at overthrowing Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution just like Reconstruction was overthrown in the U.S. South after the Civil War.

The ‘good old days’

Just by helping to keep poor people from freezing to death, Venezuela made an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. billionaires and banksters. ExxonMobil — which, after Iraq was invaded, was raking in $100 million in profits a day — gave zilch in heating oil aid.

CITGO’s action probably helped save funding for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Even Time magazine asked, “Why Can’t Big Oil Match Hugo Chávez?” (Jan. 7, 2009), referring to Venezuela’s late president, who died in 2013.

Whether Democrats or Republicans are in office, the U.S. government is run by Big Oil. But Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution ran Big Oil out of its country.

Exxon’s original name was Standard Oil of New Jersey. Controlled by the Rockefeller family, Standard Oil broke strikes ruthlessly. At least four strikers in Bayonne, N.J., were killed by company guards during a 1915 strike. (New York Times, July 30, 1915)

Oil-rich Venezuela became a Rockefeller province just like New Jersey. Nelson Rockefeller owned three huge estates in the country.

After being elected New York governor in 1958, Nelson Rockefeller vacationed at his 112,000-acre Mata de Barbara ranch in the Orinoco Basin. Seventy-eight miles away, the future butcher of the Attica prison rebellion owned the 6,250-acre Palo Gordo farm. (Life, Dec. 8, 1958) His other possessions in Venezuela included the Monte Sacro ranch and a supermarket chain.

Meanwhile, millions of Venezuela’s people lived in dire poverty. Workers rebelled in 1989 against cutbacks imposed by the International Monetary Fund. As many as 3,000 people may have been shot down during the Caracazo Rebellion. (TeleSUR, Feb. 26)

Hugo Chávez Frías was elected president in 1999 and the Bolivarian Revolution began. President Chávez told ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to get out of Venezuela.

Trump has nominated Tillerson to be secretary of state

Leopoldo López & Leonard Peltier

More than two million people are locked up in U.S. jails and Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that more than 1,000 people were killed by U.S. cops last year. Yet President Obama imposed sanctions on Venezuela for allegedly abusing “human rights.”

Obama lamented the jailing of right-wing leader Leopoldo López. (PanAm Post, Sept. 24, 2014) But the White House was silent when the Saudi Kingdom beheaded Shia leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Jan. 2, 2016.

Formerly mayor of Chacao, a well-to-do subdivision of Caracas, López was jailed for instigating violent marches starting on Feb. 12, 2014, in an attempt to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.

López comes from a rich family and attended a boarding school in Princeton, N.J. He was implicated in the 2003 coup that briefly overthrew President Chávez. (Foreign Policy, July 27, 2015) Maduro was leader of the bus drivers’ union in Caracas before being elected president following the death of Chávez.

Among those later killed was 29-year-old motorcyclist Elvis Durán de la Rosa, who was partially beheaded by barbed wire strung across a highway by opponents of President Maduro. (Venezuelanalysis.com, March 2, 2014)

Didn’t Elvis Durán have human rights, too, President Obama? While praising Leopoldo López, why did you refuse to pardon American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier, who’s been imprisoned for 40 years, and Black liberation fighter Dr. Mutulu Shakur, who’s been imprisoned for 30 years?

Working and poor people in Venezuela are determined to defend their revolution. Millions have signed petitions attacking sanctions. Block by block, people are organizing resistance. U.S. hands off Venezuela!