by Lotty Clare

Make no mistake, I am not a defender of the current Nicholas Maduro regime in Venezuela, and there is widespread opposition to Maduro in Venezuela: right now, in Caracas, despite a ban on rallies, there are thousands of people protesting the Maduro regime. However, the US intervention in Venezuela is a violation of international law and is not being called out by many media outlets. In January this year Juan Guaidó, who was supported by the US, ignored democratic process and announced that he was president. He was immediately recognised by the US, Canada, UK, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark and several right-wing countries in Latin America as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela.

US media has propagated lies about what is happening in Venezuela.

The narrative that is being pushed by the US and Western Europe is that under a socialist regime led by Chavez and then his successor Maduro, Venezuela has sunk into an economic crisis with shortages of food and medicines, with the UN estimating 3.4 million people fled the country since 2014. Venezuela is undeniably in crisis. The US government are accusing Maduro of blocking humanitarian aid and depriving his people of essential goods, making him look like the ultimate socialist villain, and the US like saviours of democracy. But what has attracted less of a media spotlight, is the fact that the US supplying of aid is arguably highly politicised, and is being used as a political weapon to cover up ulterior regime change motivations. The United Nations and the International Red Cross has refused to cooperate with the US aid mission for this very reason.

US media has propagated lies about what is happening in Venezuela. For example, saying that the Maduro regime blocked a motorway bridge on the Colombian border, and that a US aid truck was set ablaze by government forces. We now know that actually the bridge had never been opened since its construction, and the footage circulated showing the truck fire had been edited to remove the footage where a protestor threw a Molotov cocktail accidentally setting the truck on fire. In addition, the government of Venezuela are accepting aid from countries which are not threatening military action such as Cuba, Russia, and who have waged economic war against them.

The reality this is being hidden and obscured by the U.S government and mainstream media is that the US has been interfering with Venezuelan democracy for decades, helping to push Venezuela into crisis and with all intentions of regime change. Ever since the election of socialist Hugo Chavez who launched the Bolivarian Revolution, the US has taken issue with Venezuela and there is some evidence, although not proven, that the US even orchestrated a coup in 2002 after which Chavez returned after a few days with massive public support. Venezuela has been asphyxiated by economic sanctions costing them an estimated $30 million per day. The impacts of this on the economy of Venezuela has been undeniable. These sanctions, which  have decimated the Venezuelan oil industry are not only immoral, they are also illegal and violate the Organization of American States Charter, the United Nations Charter, and other international conventions that the US is party to. This economic warfare makes it impossible for the government to take the necessary measures to escape from hyperinflation and depression. US sanctions have directly impoverished Venezuela and contributed to power shortages due to sanctions on fuel imports and shortages of medicines and food.

Many of the same people who participated in these past crimes are now heading up the US policy in Venezuela.

US foreign policy objectives are clear, and have been clear for decades in Latin America. The US has invaded and overthrown governments in Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, blockaded Cuba, backed a coup in Chile which led to the repressive Pinochet regime, sponsored massacres in El Salvador and now back the fascist regime of Bolsonaro in Brazil, to name but a few. Many of the same people who participated in these past crimes are now heading up the US policy in Venezuela. One example is Elliot Abrams, a war criminal who withheld information about his involvement in the Iran-Contra (and was later pardoned by GHW Bush), who has now been appointed special envoy to Venezuela. Under a Trump administration, government officials are outright saying what their aims are, echoing rhetoric of past republican like Bush and Reagan:  President Trump said in a speech that “There will be no going back. Venezuela is leaving socialism, the dictatorship, and there is no turning back…the time has come for the farewell to the socialism of our hemisphere, not only in Venezuela, but also in Nicaragua and Cuba.”

John Bolton, security advisor and conservative hawk, said openly promoted this campaign as a plot to take Venezuelan oil for the benefit of American companies, he said on Fox News: It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela’ and he also said last October in a creepy rendition of Bush’s Axis of Evil speech ‘The Troika of Tyranny in this Hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua—has finally met its match.’

The situation in Venezuela is being misrepresented and lied about in the media and is being obscured by a false, neoliberal discourse about human rights, democracy and prosperity. It is the same model that has been used in many other countries and overseen by many of the same war criminal republicans and neo-conservatives like Elliot Abrams and John Bolton. The weaponization of human rights is an ongoing theme for America all over the world; just look at the most well-known example of the invasion of Iraq which was fundamentally about oil interests, but the existence of weapons of mass destruction and threat to civilian life was a fabricated story told to manufacture consent. It is not just conservatives that are enthusiastic about this intervention in Venezuela, there is widespread Democratic support with the likes of Nancy Pelosi aligning herself with John Bolton.

Venezuelan people have rights, rights to choose who leads their country…

Venezuela is a politically polarised country and it is clear the US has contributed to this polarisation. Negotiation, mediation, and oversight from the UN is needed to come to a democratic resolution to this crisis. The international community needs to look at the US’ track record in South America and stop supporting the US so unreservedly in this matter and condemn the actions of the US which are in Violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the UN charter. Venezuelan people have rights, rights to choose who leads their country and these rights are being attacked from within Venezuela and from the international community by our active participation and complacency in this attack on Venezuelan people and democracy.


Featured image credit: Alexcocopro (Wikimedia Commons)

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