Venezuela is a good example of how the US political-media-business communities unite to overthrow governments that it dislikes, especially when it comes to South America. The Trump administration seems to be laying the groundwork for overt military intervention in Venezuela to complement the US’s long-standing covert efforts at destabilizing that country and supporting coups, actions that were also done by the Obama administration. Readers may recall the coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002 that the US government and the media (with the New York Times being among the worst culprits) and political establishments in the US quickly endorsed, only to find Chavez regaining power. The media quickly assigned that disgraceful episode to the memory hole and it is rarely brought up again, though recent events in that country would surely justify doing so.
Mark Weisbrot discusses what is going on but the key issue is that the US is pushing for regime change – again.
WASHINGTON HAS BEEN trying to topple Venezuela’s government for at least 17 years, but the Trump administration has taken a more openly aggressive tack than its predecessors. Last week, administration officials kicked their efforts into high gear by anointing their chosen successor to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros in advance of any coup d’etat. The 35-year-old Venezuelan member of Congress Juan Guaidó announced that he was now president, and the Trump administration, along with allied governments, immediately recognized him — in accordance with a previously arranged plan.
It would be a terrible mistake to keep going down this road. Trump’s policies have only worsened the suffering of Venezuelans and made it almost impossible for the country to pull out of its prolonged economic depression and hyperinflation.
Though the government’s economic policies have played a role in Venezuela’s woes, the Trump sanctions have made things considerably worse since August 2017, decimating the oil industry and worsening shortages of medicine that have killed many Venezuelans. The Trump sanctions also make it nearly impossible for the government to take the necessary measures to exit from hyperinflation and depression.
Though the U.S. media is quiet on the matter, it’s important to note that the Trump sanctions are both violently immoral — again, they kill people — and illegal. They are prohibited under the Organization of American States Charter, the United Nations Charter, and other international conventions that the U.S. is party to. The sanctions also violate U.S. law, since the U.S. president must state, absurdly, that Venezuela presents “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States in order to impose these measures.
This week the radio program On The Media had two excellent segments about Venezuela and US military interventions in that region. Both those interviews are well worth listening to.
In one segment, host Bob Garfield spoke to Miguel Tinker Salas, Venezuelan historian and professor at Ponoma College, about the history of the region, its historic figure Simon Bolivar, and what Bolívar might mean in Venezuela today. Bolivar can be considered one of the greatest figures in anti-colonial and anti-slavery struggles.
Bolivar and George Washington admired each other but Bolivar also said that the US “appeared destined to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty” which surely must go down as one of the most accurate predictions in political history.
Garfield then spoke to historian Stephen Kinzer about the shameful history of US intervention in Latin America that have subverted almost every single country in the region.
Kinzer lays bare the brutal role that the US has played in the region. Kinzer says that this goes through three phases. The first phase is when the government in that country takes some action that affects the profits of US businesses and they complain to the US government. Phase two is when the US government decides that if a government is bothering a US business, it must be an enemy of the US and so the US intervenes for strategic reasons. The third phase is selling the invasion to the US public and for that the US cooks up some humanitarian excuse. This is necessary to get the liberals on board with what would otherwise be an obviously naked act of imperial aggression. Business, government, and the media all collude in this effort, with the media largely acting as stenographers to the government, acting as a propaganda arm. This is still going on.
He says that Guatemala in 1954 can be viewed as the paradigm, where the US overthrew the only democratic government the country has even known on behalf of the United Fruit Company. The lesson that was drawn by Che Guevara (who observed the coup in Guatemala) was that no social reform could be possible in Latin America under a democratic structure because the US and the CIA would take advantage of the openness of that democratic structure to undermine the reforms and overthrow the governments.
Kinzer also draws a straight line from US actions in 2009 in Honduras under the Obama administration, where Hillary Clinton enthusiastically endorsed the coup there, that resulted in the creation of appalling conditions that has since resulted in large numbers of refugees some of whom form the caravan and who are now being accused of being criminals and invaders.
Now Trump has also brought in Elliot Abrams, one of the worst criminals in Latin America, to deal with Latin America, in addition to neoconservative warmonger John Bolton. So things are not looking good. But don’t expect the media to critically examine the war or intervention rationales. They love wars. It is good for their business.