“A goose is a goose still, dressed as you will.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden
However, one dresses it in misinformation and sanctimonious Media outrage, by any objective sense, what is happening right now in Venezuela is still a coup
. Recent open threats of US military intervention
from the Trump Administration mask the fact that intervention is already under way. In fact Venezuela has been
suffering a slow-burn, yet devastating internal insurgency and economic war since the optimistic beginnings of the
‘Bolivarian’ socialist revolution in 1998. More recently this has taken the form of illegal economic sanctions set to
cost Venezuela $11bn in 2019, a CIA planned and executed constitutional coup, information war and ‘black ops’ missions
both from the US, and across the porous Colombian border.
Venezuelan authorities stand next to US-made weapons seized from a cargo plane coming from Miami, Florida. (Photo by
Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace)
Any way it is spun, such political and military intervention by the US will make the situation many times worse for the
people of Venezuela which should be the paramount concern. Why is this happening? It’s pretty simple: oil (the biggest
remaining reserves globally are in Venezuela) and ideology (an ideological quest to replace socialism, indigenous
peoples’ rights and independence with white supremacy and subjugation in Latin America).
The US has refused to acknowledge President Maduro as the elected leader of Venezuela despite extensive evidence the
electoral system is extremely fair and robust. Instead the US and its European allies have recognised the relatively
obscure head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó of the conservative ‘Popular Will’ party as leader. This move is
almost unprecedented, being the first time a leader without effective control over even part of a country has been
acknowledged by the US since World War II (even Saddam was afforded the privilege of being the called President... right
up until Iraq was illegally invaded).
Trump and his opposition puppets led by Guaidó – according to John Pilger - a creation of the CIA-front National
Endowment for Democracy, have now ruled out a negotiated solution or even dialogue with the legitimate Government of
Venezuela. This ‘zero sum game’ approach clearly shows that the US administration’s only intention is regime change to
install a compliant far-right dictatorship over which it can exert full control. However, it also means the most likely
outcome, regardless of whether Guaidó comes to power or not, is a protracted and bloody civil war like the one still
smouldering across the Colombian border between a fascist government and socialist rebels. This risky approach will do
nothing to deliver more democracy, human rights or a better economy for the people of Venezuela. What it will do is
restore the pre-revolution state of white supremacy, inequality and racism in Venezuela and reverse many of the gains
made by the Bolivarian revolution in literacy, poverty reduction, participatory democracy and community/worker control
A Geopolitical Power Play
Regardless of any imagined faults in Venezuela’s ‘democratic freedoms,’ the fact that consent is being so aggressively
manufactured for an invasion by the US and Corporate Media should set alarm bells ringing. By refusing to play the game
by the neoliberal ruleset of global capitalism, the ‘Bolivarian’ socialist revolution of Venezuela ushered in by Hugo
Chavez’ landslide democratic election in 1998 has consistently attracted the scorn of the global media, business and
political elites. The ‘Dictator’ and ‘Socialism’ centric media narratives
taste a lot like the rehashed leftovers of the ‘Gaddafi’ or ‘Saddam’ ones and alarmingly like the ‘red-baiting’ of
pre-world-war II Germany or the Cold war. We have truly entered the surreal post-fascist era of manufactured ‘national
emergencies’ and perpetual wars in both the physical and information arenas painted so vividly in Orwell’s Big
Brother... people buckle up.
Despite the Political and Media hype, Venezuela is still not even a very socialist nation, leaving many on the left
calling on Maduro to deepen the Bolivarian revolution. In fact Matt Breunig for Peoples Policy Project
outlines with correlating data that Norway is far more socialist than Venezuela. However, socialism appears to be a
convenient ‘boogieman’ for the Trump Administration to use to further its ambitions.
The Trump Administration appears to be refocusing its attentions on reasserting US hegemony of the Latin American
region. Democracy Now
reports that the Trump Administration recently openly stated its intention in the Wall Street Journal of openly talks
of defeating the ‘troika of tyranny’ by invading Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to reassert full neoliberal capitalist
control of Latin America.
This US aggression in Latin America is also a pretty calculated and overt ‘F* you!’ to Russia and China and indeed the
entire “Global South,” as the US tries to shore up the natural resource rich Latin American region strategically by
destroying a strongly indigenous elected government. Effectively, the US has now staked a claim on half the world
. Senate Armed Services Committee chair Jim Inhofe has threatened Washington might have to intervene in Venezuela if
Russia dares set up a military base not just there, but “in our hemisphere.”
Already the US-anointed Venezuelan opposition faction have suggested they may not honour debt for oil deals
with Russia and China signed by Maduro, a not too subtle threat. Russia has in return vowed to protect its interests in Venezuela
using “all mechanisms available”. This direct provocation by the US to global free trade is effectively an attempt by
Trump to both starve Venezuela and to relaunch the cold war (or World War III), and has echoes of the tension of the
Cuban blockade and Missile crisis. Russia and the US have now proposed rival draft resolutions
at the UN on Venezuela with Russia’s one calling out the US intervention.
Invasion - an Imperialist Agenda
Wires found in burnt US 'aid' convoy
Successive US leaders have made no secret of their belief in their divine right to control the extraction and sales of
Venezuela’s oil (the largest remaining reserves in the world) and its gold (the second largest reserves in the world).
The Bush Administration orchestrated a coup in 2002 and Venezuela subsequently suffered a severe decline in economic and
living conditions and an increase in outward migration after oil prices crashed due to criminal manipulation by Wall
Street. This suffering was exacerbated when the Obama administration imposed illegal unilateral sanctions, surreally
declaring Venezuela a “serious threat to US sovereignty.” Things declined even further after the Trump Administration
imposed further sweeping economic sanctions
in August 2017. In February, a plane load of US automatic weapons
with apparent CIA links was seized landing in Venezuela after having already completed 40 round-trips in recent weeks
delivering arms to ant-government forces.
The tragic pattern of cold war style intervention in Latin America now looks set to repeat in Venezuela, as indicated by
the U.S appointment of Elliot Abrams
as “Special Envoy” to Venezuela. Abrams is widely reviled in Latin America as the architect of the brutal U.S cold war
in Latin America to install right-wing dictatorships which led to much bloodshed and gave rise to much of the widespread
inequality, corruption, and anti-US sentiment we see in Latin America today. The 71 year old Abrams is a rabid anti-communist
who famously plead guilty to withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, and was later
pardoned by the G.H.W Bush. Abrams was also allegedly involved
in the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela and defended the massacre of indigenous people by Guatemalan dictator General
Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s. Abrams has ‘spent his life crushing democracy’ and is now back to finish off unfinished
business in Latin America.
Over the past week, we have witnessed a remarkable display of postmodern propaganda warfare as the US and its Colombian
allies orchestrated a fake ‘humanitarian aid’ crisis on the Venezuelan border by weaponising aid shipments. The US has
been accused of the unlawful politicisation of aid
by the UN and the Red Cross, both of which have refused to work with them. The Corporate Media has studiously ignored
mentioning that, or the fact that this small amount of “aid” being used as a political and Media circus by the US, is a
rounding error when compared to the amount of legitimate aid being blocked by illegal US sanctions, which includes $2
billion worth of imported medicines.
This crisis even featured a surreal Richard Branson funded ‘fake aid’ gig on the Colombian border which was pretty light
on real music talent and attendance and was promptly called out as imperial shilling by a real rock star, Pink Floyd
Bassist Roger Waters
. As was to be expected, this all ended in what is now being asserted to have been a false flag event
in the burning of the aid convoy now being unquestioningly pumped by the biased Mainstream Media as a pretext for a full scale invasion
. A Mexican Journalist has independently verified
that the burned remains of the US ‘aid trucks’ contained items such as gas masks, metal wire and whistles.
Weaponising Suffering and Crimes Against Humanity
The US imposed Sanctions do not target the “Maduro Regime” as often claimed in the Corporate Media, rather they
effectively prevent Venezuela from trading their oil on the global market and cripple the national economy. As always,
it is the ordinary people who will suffer as a result. The US is banking on the people’s pain leading them to turn on
their regime. However as pointed out on Democracy Now
by Miguel Tinker Salas, Venezuelan-born professor and author of books on Venezuela and oil, they could just as well
turn on the opposition and take it out on those they perceive as being behind the sanctions.
This is a risky and cynical game and the US architects of this strategy are well aware of the harms it causes. Jeremy Scahill
quotes William Brownfield the former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela speaking at a Washington D.C. think tank as “publicly saying that it is worth the price of lives and health and humanity of ordinary Venezuelans in order to
overthrow a government the U.S. does not like.”
As John Pilger states
“it is similar to that faced by Salvador Allende in 1970 when President Richard Nixon and his equivalent of John
Bolton, Henry Kissinger, set out to ‘make the economy [of Chile] scream’. The long dark night of Pinochet followed.”
Alfred de Zayas
The former United Nations Rapporteur, Alfred de Zayas, the first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years, has
likened all this to a "medieval siege" designed "to bring countries to their knees" or a criminal assault. In fact de
Zayas , a former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and an expert in international law, told The Independent
the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law. De
Zayas is appalled that since the presentation of his Venezuela report
to the HRC in September 2018, the report has been ignored by the UN and has not sparked the public debate in the Media
that he believes it deserves. It now seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the UN website.
Alfred de Zayas also recently appeared on Al Jazeera English
, charging that the U.S. government was engaging in the “weaponization of human rights and the weaponization of aid” in
its recent actions against Venezuela on the Colombian border. He has signed an open letter
along with Noam Chomsky and over 70 other academics and experts, condemning the coup against the Venezuelan government
and calling for a negotiated solution.
Media Rewriting History
As John Pilger wrote recently, the war on Venezuela is built on lies
. The demonisation of ‘Socialism’ and the ‘Maduro Regime’ by the Media has required the rewriting of history through
misrepresentation and omission by the compliant corporate media of the positive aspects of the Bolivarian revolution. As Gregory Shupak reports
, the US media has effectively erased all trace of the positive gains made by Chavismo. Very little press coverage has
been given to the hard data collected by Gabriel Hetland - an academic and expert on Venezuela - and other expert
analysts suggesting that the Bolivarian revolution has done many great things for Venezuela’s poor and ‘mestizo’ people.
The much criticised social spending of the Government has been instrumental in decreasing inequality and redistributing
democratic power over communities and businesses in this previously highly unequal and stratified society historically
ruled brutally and undemocratically by a white upper class economic and political elite. Under Chávez, poverty in Venezuela was cut by more than a third
, and extreme poverty by 57 percent in the midst of an opposition led oil strike. Even the CIA’s surprisingly honest Fact Book
“Social investment in Venezuela during the Chavez administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in
2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable
water and sanitation through social investment.”
Contrary to the simplistic corporate media narrative of Maduro’s corruption, authoritarianism and mismanagement,
Venezuela's economic collapse is, in fact, a symptom of a complex array of factors. According to Gabriel Hetland
, these key factors include a pre-revolution legacy of political and economic inequality, IMF imposed debt and austerity
measures, significant oil price drops, and a long running economic war conducted by the US and its domestic supporters.
Hetland says the Chavistas made three major mistakes: failure to stem the currency crisis (by floating the currency),
over dependence on oil revenues and an unwillingness and/or inability to effectively tackle rampant corruption.
Hetland also points out that the ambitious programme of social change in Venezuela has been hampered all along by a
heavily stacked playing field and considerable active sabotage from the US and from within. He admits that the
Venezuelan government's actions – and inactions – have made the crisis 'far worse', however crucially he states:
“the government has not acted in a vacuum, but in a hostile domestic and international environment. The opposition has
openly and repeatedly pushed for regime change by any means necessary.”
There is also absolutely no reality to claims that a US and IMF backed neoliberal regime would address either of
Venezuela’s economic problems or this entrenched corruption. Judging by the lack of any progress in past far right
dictatorships including neighbouring US client states of Colombia and Brazil, if anything these problems will get worse
under a return to elite control. Already, the US and its allies have begun plundering Venezuela’s assets and resources.
We will likely see a massive fire sale just as in Libya, where the $1.3bn Libyan Sovereign fund disappeared
without an audit trail with the help of corrupt US appointed local officials, Goldman Sachs and compliant international
Manufacturing a Dictatorship
There is a facile ‘consent manufacturing’ narrative being pushed aggressively by the corporate Media that this US
‘intervention’ is just, inevitable and supported by a united Venezuelan opposition fighting an authoritarian,
dictatorial, socialist regime for human rights and freedom. The facts simply do not support such claims. While nobody
can claim either Chavez or Maduro's rule was a perfect one (both made mistakes and compounded the extensive economic
problems they faced on entering office), Maduro’s regime is also far from the anti-democratic or authoritarian monster
the Corporate Media in the West has so aggressively painted it as. This Media narrative of authoritarianism ignores that
many independent observers have stated that there is a robust political process in Venezuela and that the 2018 elections
were fair despite extensive US interference to polarise and discredit the results.
More than 150 members of the international electoral accompaniment mission for the elections published
four independent reports in 2018. Their members 'include politicians, electoral experts, academics, journalists, social
movement leaders and others'. The mission's General Report concluded
'We the international accompaniers consider that the technical and professional trustworthiness and independence of the
National Electoral Council of Venezuela are uncontestable.'
The Venezuelan government, in fact, asked the United Nations to send election monitors to observe last year’s election.
This request, however, was blocked by the US, which instead encouraged the opposition to boycott the elections, as this
supported their later claims that the elections had no mandate. Joe Emersberger reports
for FAIR, that Henri Falcón, who actually ran in the election (defying US threats
against him) was claimed by opposition-aligned pollster Datanálisis to basically be in a statistical tie with Maduro
for most popular among the candidates. As he points out“it is remarkable to see the Western media dismiss this election as “fraudulent,” without even attempting to show that
it was “stolen“ from Falcón. Perhaps that’s because it so clearly wasn’t stolen
There is a strong political opposition in Venezuela which controls the vast majority of the domestic media channels. The
mass media, and US owned social media, are both being used as tools to spread a narrative highly critical of Maduro’s
Government, making them a key instrument in political efforts to undermine the legitimate Government within Venezuela.
This alone makes claims of Maduro’s government being ‘an authoritarian dictatorship’ because they have recently taken
some (ineffective) steps to limit the damage of this information war, utterly and embarrassingly wrong for those
journalists pushing such narratives.
Manufacturing a Popular Uprising
Guaido, Duque and Pence
Guaidó is not a popularly elected champion of the people as he has been painted by the media, including The Guardian
in this extraordinary and breathless puff piece of an interview. Rather he is a relatively obscure political pawn
handpicked to play a key role in this US power play to restore white supremacy and neoliberal economics to Venezuela and
the entire region.
The absurd reality is that Juan Guaidó was until recently, unknown to over 80% of Venezuelans. He did not even run in
Venezuela’s May 2018 presidential election. In fact, shortly before the election, Guaidó was not even mentioned by
Datanálisis when it published approval ratings of various prominent opposition leaders and less than 20 percent of the country had even heard of him
at the time the US unilaterally anointed him as leader.
The key reason Maduro was re-elected in 2018 and remains in power despite such US interference, is that the Venezuelan
opposition politicians and the populace are extremely divided politically on the best solution to the current crisis.
The revolution can still mobilise widespread popular support from the largely Mestizo (mixed race) lower classes who are
aware of both the gains and problems of Maduro’s brand of Chavismo. The Venezuelan public are also aware of the damage
US sanctions have caused their population. They also understand the pitfalls of having a US controlled neoliberal
government as they have witnessed by the influx of refugees from Colombia fleeing persecution their own right-wing
government and its allied militias over recent decades.
Venezuelans are also well aware that military intervention will likely lead to far worse outcomes, not least of which
are another period of US supported dictatorship, a pitched civil war or even worse. A fact never discussed by the
Corporate Media is that a vast majority of the supposed opposition supporters do not want any US intervention or
sanctions. Independent polls
suggest that 86% of Venezuelans are against military intervention and 81% oppose the US sanctions. More moderate
opposition leaders such as Falcon experience far greater support than Guaidó’s Popular Will party members for these
However, the far right camp of Guaidó have now been thrust by the US and the Media into the role of annointed opposition
leader in a highly undemocratic ‘all or nothing’ power grab. They are now openly calling for military intervention
against the will of the population to seal their power grab.
Vijay Prashad, Indian historian, editor and journalist asks Jeremy Scahill on his Intercepted
podcast why the United States government is “attempting to cripple the political process in Venezuela to create the preconditions where you can then think there’s
nothing else to be done except U.S. intervention to anoint somebody as the president?”
It appears that this ‘deeply undemocratic act’ is part of the wider US strategy to ensure, not just the removal of the
Maduro government, but perhaps more importantly, to ensure that the ‘right opposition’ comes to power in the ensuing
Restoring White Supremacy and inequality in Venezuela
The class photo of Guaidó’s party members in the National Assembly, vs Maduro’s supporters - spot the difference?
Greg Palast writing for Truthout
suggests “White Supremacy is a Key to Trump’s Coup” :
‘This year’s so-called popular uprising is, at its heart, a furious backlash of the whiter (and wealthier)
Venezuelans against their replacement by the larger Mestizo
Venezuela is a country, like many in South America, riven by a rigid race-based class structure and a history of brutal
mistreatment and dispossession of the majority mestizo population by an elite political dynasty. It was only with
Chavez’ Bolivarian revolution that these millions of mestizo and poor Venezuelans finally had a voice and a vision of a
better future. As John Pilger points out:
“Every major chavista reform was voted on, notably a new constitution of which 71 per cent of the people approved each
of the 396 articles that enshrined unheard of freedoms, such as Article 123, which for the first time recognised the
human rights of mixed-race and black people, of whom Chavez was one.”
The Venezuelan opposition parties, to varying extents, represent the interests of a small group of the wealthy and
mostly hispanic blooded traditional elite of Venezuela. It is these elites that will benefit from US rule and economic
privatisation as they have in neighbouring Colombia and Brazil. This group have never accepted the Bolivarian revolution
or the idea that the indigenous and uneducated Chavez or Maduro and their supporters had any place in government. John
Pilger also says:
“Cartoonists in the Venezuelan press, most of which are owned by an oligarchy and oppose the government, portrayed
Chavez as an ape. A radio host referred to "the monkey". In the private universities, the verbal currency of the
children of the well-off is often racist abuse of those whose shacks are just visible through the pollution.”
This elite ‘white’ class have fought against the democratic change of Chavismo every inch of the way, including through
economic action such as hoarding and price controls, a 2002 coup attempt and militia-led violence at polling stations
and in the streets against Chavistas. Oliver Vargas for Morning star Monitor
“In terms of police repression, it is remarkable that Venezuela has remained as open as it has considering the
pernicious terrorism that citizens have suffered at the hands of the opposition. These include racist stabbings and
burnings (where loyalty to Chavismo is assumed based on skin colour), execution of PSUV community organisers and local
The mass movements, including trade unions, political parties, workers collectives and popular assemblies that have
backed Chavismo since 1998 will face severe repression under right-wing rule. There is no doubt we will see that
ubiquitous Latin American tactic of ‘disappearances’ of social leaders, academics and politicians on the left, as has
occured after every other US backed right-wing regime changes in the history of the region.
With what sort of reaction would such open rebellion, violence and interference in the affairs of a democratically
elected government be greeted in the US or any other Western nation? In light of the treatment of Chelsea Manning or
Edward Snowden or even the current ‘Russiagate’ inquiry, it is clear the ‘repression’ would have been far worse than
anything Maduro has done to respond to this severe aggression. Perhaps Chavez and Maduro’s biggest mistake will go down
in history as failing to adequately neutralise these damaging opposition forces earlier by allowing too much political
and press freedom. In the neoliberal post-truth world are such freedoms as a free media and human rights a dangerous
luxury that can only be afforded by the powerful Nations?
An Age of Insanity
The fact that this article even needs to be written says a lot about the post-fact age we live in. It is an age in which
economic and information wars, crimes against humanity, undemocratic power grabs, and open threats of invasion of an oil
rich democratically ruled nation by the most powerful nation in the world is all shamelessly justified and accepted as
normal by the vast majority of the media and many governments. It is also a post ‘peak-oil’ world where powerful nations
lie and murder over the remaining dregs of difficult to process ‘Heavy oil’ in Venezuela while scientists warn that we
cannot even burn this oil without plunging the world into irreversible climate catastrophe.
And all the while, the ostensibly ‘objective’ Corporate Media is silent on the real issues. We hear all sorts of claims
from journalists on Venezuela, but very little space is given to serious analysis by the real experts or even
questioning of the supposed moral and legal basis for such actions. The corporate media and political elites’ continued
claims to be concerned with human rights or democracy in Venezuela thinly masks a bias towards interventionism, white
supremacy and imperialism that has been seen in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere where economic reasons exist for such
intervention. In this era, concepts of ‘human rights’, ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ are used as weapons to manufacture
consent for the destruction of these very principles in action.
Solutions Do Exist
This risky regime change game being played by the US and allies in Venezuela could seriously backfire and lead to a
bloodbath like Vietnam or Syria, or even worse, it could spread over the borders sparking war across Latin America.
Contrary to what we are told in the Media, regime change and war are not inevitable. There are real alternative
solutions available in Venezuela that do not involve economic sanctions, overthrowing a democratically elected
government in a coup, destroying socialism in Latin America or launching a bloody civil war.
These solutions may just take some brave and lateral thinking by the global community to find solutions that do not hurt
the people more. They may instead involve dialogue, negotiation and a commitment from the international communities to
respect democratic processes. They will also require journalists and ethically sound national governments to finally
stand up to the bullying and illegal behaviour of the USA and their allies. However, the voices of reason suggesting
such approaches seem likely to be drowned out yet again by the drums of war and the inanities of the religious fervor of
neoliberal ideology gripping our political and media institutions. At present it seems only a very small group of
nations, generally those outside of the neoliberal hegemony, are prepared to even consider such possibilities. However,
I will explore some of the possible alternative solutions to the Venezuela crisis in the next piece in this series.
The most typical and distinctive form of Venezuelan music is joropo
, a rural folk music which originated in the plains and often features a Harp. Juan Vicente Torrealba
was one of the greatest exponents of this music: