March 3 — According to the Juan Guaidó, the self-appointed “interim president” of Venezuela, Feb. 23 was going to be a great victory. The National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) would split in two, let U.S. Agency for International Development trucks into the country, and deliver him to the presidential palace at Miraflores.
Guaidó’s proclamations, whether it be his presidency or his plans for the country, received a great deal of attention by international news media. But no matter how many times CNN, Fox and the New York Times repeat a lie, at some point reality asserts itself. Reality did on Feb. 23.
The united forces of military and civil society stopped the USAID trucks at the Venezuelan borders with Colombia and Brazil. Despite several days of violent attacks from opposition forces, the coup plotters were unable to create a provocation that would create a pretext for war. The self-proclaimed president remained in Colombia, which made him a self-exiled president.
Now Guaidó, his supporters and his masters in Washington have abandoned all constitutional legitimacy. According to the article in the Venezuelan constitution that they had originally — and illegally — invoked, an interim president has to call elections within 30 days. When Nicolás Maduro held the position of interim president after the death of President Hugo Chávez, this deadline was respected.
In front of a massive march in Caracas on Feb. 23, the legitimate president, Nicolás Maduro, declared that the coup d’état had failed. Maduro remains in Miraflores, Venezuela continues in peace (tense though it may be), and even the Lima Group of Latin American countries that supported Guaidó has refused to publicly support a military intervention.
Despite the lack of international support for a military intervention, it is still possible for imperialism to intervene in more covert ways. After meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the Lima Group and several Latin American heads of state, Guaidó was able to re-enter Venezuela on March 4, signaling that Washington still has plans for the country.
People power against imperialism
It would be reasonable to wonder if Guaidó and his allies truly believed they had support among the Venezuelan masses and the military. They might have surprised themselves, since their whole plan seemed to revolve around getting so-called “humanitarian aid” into the country and overthrowing the government from there. As the day’s events showed, such an action was impossible without at least partial military support.
What’s more likely is that the plan was always to put on a show, to stage a false-flag provocation as pretext for a direct military intervention. After all, the strongest weapon that the Bolivarian Revolution has had during its 20 years in power has been its mass movement, which has repeatedly defeated the plans of imperialism and its pawns in the Venezuelan oligarchy.
In 2002, it was the mass mobilizations in Caracas that freed Chávez from jail and reversed the coup that had imprisoned him. It was also popular power that withstood and defeated the oligarchy’s oil shutdown later that year.
Just as in 2002, it was the people who defeated the attempted coup. The FANB remained united in defense of the homeland because of its unity with the communal militias that mobilized across the country. During the month between Guaidó’s self-proclamation and his attempt to bring in trucks from Colombia and Brazil, the streets of Venezuela were filled with “Chavistas” marching to reject imperialism’s plans for their country.
The Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP) not only have remained operational while distributing food to millions of the poorest Venezuelans, but some are even expanding their functions. What the CLAPs represent are not just accessible food sources but the mobilized and organized people fighting on the front lines of the economic war.
The Venezuelan people have been fighting for 20 years to build a new society, independent of imperialism and based on popular power. Without a doubt, imperialism wants to plunder Venezuelan oil, gold and rare minerals. But even more than its drive to seize natural resources, imperialism seeks to destroy the unity and organization of a people that for two decades have resisted its control.
The coup failed, the threat remains
Popular mobilization in the cities and at the borders defeated the coup attempt carried out by the most violent sections of the Venezuelan opposition. But one victory, even one as great as this, is inadequate to end the dangers from U.S. imperialism that is not just global but addicted to oil and militarism.
As long as imperialism exists, there is a threat to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela because imperialism’s weapons are not limited to tanks and bombs. Beyond the constant threat of military action, imperialism has relied on its economic and information weapons, and attacks continue in these arenas.
While Washington has failed to gather the necessary support for a military intervention, imperialism is well versed in covert wars. In the 1980s, the United States created and armed rebel groups in Nicaragua in an attempt to overthrow the socialist government there. In fact, U.S. Special Envoy Elliot Abrams was twice convicted for lying about his role in this very plot, the so-called Iran-Contra Affair. Guaidó’s return to Venezuela would fit into this strategy.
There is longstanding paramilitary activity on the border between Venezuela and Colombia, and there have been rumors that a so-called “liberation army” is being assembled. The Cuban government has denounced the movement of U.S. troops throughout the Caribbean, and Russia has warned of attempts to use Ukraine as an intermediary to smuggle weapons to Venezuelan opposition forces. (tinyurl.com/yy5hbzfe)
The corporate media offensive has focused on the economic crisis in Venezuela, manipulating the suffering of the people to create an image of a brutal dictator starving his people. What is never mentioned are the unilateral sanctions, illegal according to international law, that have cost Venezuela billions of dollars since 2015.
The international corporate media speak of the government blocking U.S. “humanitarian aid,” but they do not mention that even the United Nations and the Red Cross rejected that aid as a political ploy. They also fail to mention that Venezuela is already receiving aid from its allies, and that it is even working with European countries to receive technical aid.
In truth, there is already a war on Venezuela, but it is an economic one, rather than a military one. The unilateral sanctions and the financial blockade Washington imposed are the main cause of continuing economic troubles. Therefore the U.S. is actually responsible for whatever death and suffering it is using to justify its actions.
The Venezuelan people’s resistance was able to put a break on the worst plans of the imperialists. On top of that, thousands of people across the world mobilized on Feb. 23 in solidarity demonstrations, showing the potential of a global solidarity movement. But the struggle is far from over, and it will be necessary to continue mobilizing and organizing to end the economic war while preventing the military one.