Failing to shake the resolve of the Korean people when he proposed war, even nuclear war, on that small country, Donald Trump has now targeted Venezuela. “We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option,” he said on Aug. 11. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.” (theguardian.com, Aug. 11)
The Venezuelan government’s response to Trump’s threats was both swift and decisive. Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said: “As our minister of defense and a Venezuelan citizen, I say it is an act of madness. As a soldier, I stand with the Venezuelan armed forces, and with the people. I am sure that we will all be on the front lines defending the interests and sovereignty of this beloved Venezuela.”
The communications minister, Ernesto Padrino, called Trump’s statement “an unprecedented threat to national sovereignty.”
In a statement read to the press as well as to foreign diplomats, including Lee McClenny, head of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called Trump the “boss of the empire.” He said that his comments “fit a pattern of aggression against Venezuelan sovereignty and violate international law and the U.N. charter.” (quotes from nytimes.com, Aug. 12)
Trump’s White House later also released a statement demanding that Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro “restore democracy” and “hold free and fair elections.” This comes although the U.S. president won his office with three million fewer votes than his opponent. He won in an election that saw millions of people, particularly people of color, denied their right to vote.
Now Trump dares to threaten war because Venezuela recently held an election for the Constituent Assembly in which eight million people participated.
With his usual lying bluster, Trump demanded that Maduro “release political prisoners,” while the U.S. currently imprisons 2.3 million people, mostly Black, Latinx and Native, and including many political activists and freedom fighters who have been in jail more than three decades. (prisonpolicy.org, March 14)
As for human rights, the Washington Post reported that 963 people were shot by police in 2016 in the U.S., and that as of Aug. 13, some 611 have been killed in 2017 by the cops. (tinyurl.com/zyz2tpq)
Meanwhile, Trump condemns both sides as anti-fascist demonstrators are killed and injured in Charlottesville, Va., by Nazis and the Klan.
Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. would “continue a series of actions against the Maduro regime, which aim to strengthen the opposition” and to try to stir up divisions within the Venezuelan government. (usnews.com, Aug. 13)
The Pentagon stated that it had “not received any orders on Venezuela.” Whether or not the military received new orders, the Pentagon was already preparing for an invasion. In June, the U.S. military held exercises that it called “Operation Tradewinds 2017” on the island of Barbados with 2,500 soldiers, 670 miles from the Venezuelan coast, and then on Trinidad and Tobago, just 373 miles away. (telesurtv.net, June 7)
The U.S. military plans another exercise in November dubbed “Operation America United,” at a “temporary” base in Brazil, near the borders with Peru and Colombia and quite close to the Venezuelan border. Since the U.S. was forced to close its air base in Manta, Ecuador, the Pentagon is more than happy to have the right-wing Temer regime in Brazil allow them to open one up so that it can oversee so many Latin American countries. (zerohedge.com, May 4)
Many condemn the military threats
Progressive organizations and governments in Latin America condemned the threats from #45, which can be expected. Mindful of the many U.S. invasions and occupations of Latin American countries over the last century, however, even leaders of countries hostile to the socialist-leaning Maduro government, criticized Trump’s threats.
Chile’s Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz said: “Reiterating all of the terms of the Lima Declaration on Venezuela, the government of Chile rejects the threat of military intervention in Venezuela.” Mexico, Peru, and Brazil have also condemned Trump’s comments.
Jorge Ramos, head of the Spanish-language network Univision, tweeted: “Trump, like a child with a new toy, has just discovered that threatening Venezuela and north Korea can improve his image in the United States.”
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, spokesperson Rodrigo Granda, said: “Let us not allow an invasion in the style of Grenada or Panama to be repeated with impunity. There are evil presidents, and also people of solidarity.” (telesurtv.net, Aug. 12)
Even the right-wing government of Colombia, perhaps the most in the pocket of U.S. imperialism, announced that it condemns “military measures and the use of force.” (nytimes.com, Aug. 12)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to start a four-country Latin American tour on August 13. Perhaps he should be reminded of what happened to Vice President Nixon in 1958, when anti-imperialist demonstrators nearly overturned his limousine on the streets of Caracas.