Venezuela: 20 years in the gunsights of U.S. imperialism

The U.S. and its proxies in Latin America are gearing up for possible military intervention against the Bolivarian government of Venezuela. Last February, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson toured Latin American countries, rallying support for such aggression. U.S. officials have met since then with dissident Venezuelan officers to discuss support for a coup. And President Donald Trump reportedly asked his administration to consider a U.S. intervention.

What has turned this country on the northern coast of South America, which possesses the single largest oil reserves in the world, into a prime target of U.S. imperialism?

Since the first victory of the late Hugo Chávez 20 years ago in Venezuela’s presidential elections and the process of the Bolivarian Revolution, Venezuela’s establishment as a sovereign state aiming to establish socialism has made it the target. The oil reserves make it a valuable target.

The U.S. has continued to follow the racist and chauvinistic 1823 Monroe Doctrine, when U.S. President James Monroe declared U.S. hegemony regarding all the land, resources and people of the Western Hemisphere. While the original declaration appeared to be aimed at European colonizers, the doctrine has been applied against any attempt of the Latin American and Caribbean countries to obtain real sovereignty.

When countries like Cuba — which established socialism — Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and earlier Chile have challenged U.S. control over the region simply by calling for self-determination, the U.S. has replied with economic sanctions, blockades, violent subversion and military intervention.

What Washington seeks to do in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua is parallel to similar U.S. interventionism in 2014 Ukraine, in 1970-73 against the Chilean government led by Salvador Allende and against the Muammar Qaddafi government in 2011 in Libya, which all resulted in reactionary, fascist-like regimes.

Sanctions and violent subversion

Since 2015, the U.S. and its European allies have placed heavy sanctions on Bolivarian Venezuelan leaders while funding and allying with opposition leaders. The Venezuelan opposition comes from the bourgeois class that is mainly of European white heritage and that is racist, sexist, and seeks to oppress and exploit Black, Indigenous and working-class Venezuelans.

In 2015, the opposition in Venezuela adopted a new tactic to undermine the Bolivarian government by creating violence and fear against Chavistas. These rightists fabricated a narrative of humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that ultimately put the onus for all problems on Nicolás Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) that governed the country.

Members of the opposition group Vente Venezuela, who the U.S. calls freedom fighters, shot and killed civilians. This opposition set on fire and killed Orlando Figuera, a 17-year-old Afro-Venezuelan, for being a supporter of the Bolivarian Revolution. In 2017, the opposition set 40 tons of subsidized food on fire while at the same time claiming Venezuelans are dying of starvation through the fault of the government. Opposition leader Julio Borges has called for banks to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan leaders.

In New York City on Sept. 27, Jorge Arreaza, the minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, told supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution that sanctions the U.S. placed on members of the Venezuelan government ultimately prevent money from going to the state, which would then use the funds for the people.

Arreaza explained that Venezuela will send oil to European countries and when these countries try to pay for the oil, because of these sanctions, the bank holds the money. According to the Venezuela Analysis, Trump’s sanctions against the country have cost the Bolivarian Republic $6 billion. This one example can show how sanctions are causing economic crisis, not the Bolivarian system.

Last May 20, Nicolás Maduro was re- elected president of Venezuela with 68 percent of the vote. International observers and the Venezuelan National Electoral Commision confirmed the transparency of the election. Venezuela uses voting machines which are 100 percent auditable at each stage, unlike machines used in the U.S.

The Venezuelan opposition had publicly boycotted the elections despite Maduro urging them to participate and even agreeing to give the opposition an extra month to campaign. Despite this clear victory with no basis for claiming the election was questionable, the U.S. government placed additional sanctions on Maduro.

To counter the U.S.’s sanctions and their damage to the Venezuelan currency, the Bolívar Fuerte, the Maduro administration announced a series of economic reforms. The reforms included establishing a new currency called the Bolívar Soberano, which has five zeros less than the Bolívar Fuerte (1 Soberano = 10,000 Fuerte) and would be backed by Venezuela’s oil reserves.

President Maduro announced these reforms on July 25. Less than two weeks later, an attempt was made on Maduro’s life.

Assassination attempt

On Aug. 5, during an event commemorating the Bolivarian National Guard Forces, two small drones flew maliciously above while Maduro was speaking. Suddenly, one of the drones spun out of control and hit the side of a building while the other exploded midair and injured several people, including Venezuelan soldiers.

This failed drone attack was a clear attempt to kill Maduro only two months after his overwhelming re-election. Venezuelan authorities have identified 43 people involved in this assassination attempt, all linked to Julio Borges, a Venezuelan opposition leader who resides in and coordinates from Bogotá in neighboring Colombia.

Jorge Rodríguez, the minister for Communication and Information of Venezuela, has relayed that the Colombian government had trained the terrorist group aligned with Borges and allowed several members to cross the border into Venezuela.

Continued aggression

Every September in New York City at the United Nations headquarters, high-level delegates from all over the world attend the opening of the General Assembly. On Sept. 21, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News, “You’ll see in the coming days a series of actions that continue to increase the pressure level against the Venezuelan leadership folks.”

On Sept. 25, as the debates in the U.N. began, the U.S. placed sanctions on Cilia Flores de Maduro, the president of the National Assembly and former attorney general of Venezuela, and on an additional two Venezuelan officials. Cilia Flores is also President Maduro’s spouse.

Maduro made a last-minute decision to come to New York City and speak at the General Assembly. At Riverside Church in Harlem on Sept. 26, Maduro made a surprise appearance, giving a message from the Venezuelan people to counter imperialist propaganda to a crowd of over 2,000 people who had come to hear Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel speak.

The next day outside the U.N., right-wing Venezuelans protested the Maduro administration and called for military intervention in the country. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, known for her support for Israel and Saudi Arabia, not to mention the U.S. Confederacy, joined the protest. Haley reassured the “escuálidos” [the filthy, weak ones] that the Trump administration backs their agenda and will work to remove Maduro from office. Thus, Washington blatantly intervened against a sovereign nation.

What this means for Latin Americans

Poverty in Venezuela has been reduced since the Bolivarian government started using revenue from the nationalized oil industry to invest in social programs, which have increased by 60 percent in the past ten years. Alliances with Cuba have made it possible for Cuban doctors, renowned for their skill and solidarity, to treat people in rural Venezuelan communities free of charge.

According to Gini Coefficient, inequality in Venezuela has been reduced by 54 percent and poverty by 44 percent. In 1996, 70.8 percent of Venezuelans lived in poverty. By 2010, this figure was reduced to 21 percent. During his 13 years in office, Chávez initiated a program called “Misiones,” an anti-poverty program which benefited 20 million people. Pre-Chávez, 387,000 elderly people received retirement pensions. Now, 2.1 million of Venezuela’s 24 million people receive pensions.

Additionally, UNESCO has recognized that illiteracy in the Bolivarian Republic has been eliminated. Some 72 percent of children attend public daycare while 85 percent of school-age children are in public school. Venezuela is rated number 2 among Latin American nations with students in university while being number 5 in the world, proportionately.

To combat food shortages, President Maduro in early 2016 announced an initiative, Local Provision and Production Committees (CLAPS), which connects grassroot activists and the administration to provide direct food distribution and subsidies to communities which, up to the present, has been the most effective program for Venezuelans.

The vast majority of Venezuelans are Mestizx, Indigenous and Black, while the opposition and the bourgeois are white, of colonial Spanish descent, whose wealth was gained through landlordship and slave labor. María Emilia Durán, an Afro-Venezuelan activist, told TeleSUR, “It’s a white, bourgeois, classist, racist and sexist elite that has no patriotism,” and that “they want a Venezuela where only they exist, not Black, Indigenous and poor people.” South America has a rich racial diversity, yet, due to colonialism, much racial discrimination and exploitation exist.

While Black, Mestizx and Indigenous people make up the continent, the ruling class of most of the nations is wealthy and white. In the summer of 2017, after much outcry from Black Latinx people, multiple Latin American nations such as Peru and Mexico finally recognized “Afrolatinidad” as a category.

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela remains one of the few Latin American countries that actively works to deconstruct racism and discrimination, and celebrates the most oppressed in the country. It is this, too, that the Venezuelan opposition wants to turn back.

The Bolivarian Revolution, much like the Cuban Revolution, is symbolic to the working and oppressed that it is possible for the people to win. As Jorge Arreaza said in New York City on Sept. 27, “They [the U.S.] demonize us because we are socialists.”

These revolutions are integral to the Black Latin American Revolution, and it is important for those in the imperialist core to defend Bolivarian ideals from U.S. and fascist aggression.

Joe Emersberger –

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