By Brandon Turbeville
For the better part of 2018, Venezuela had remained out of the headlines. At least in the mainstream Western press, they were more focused on scary Russian agents, keeping American forces in Syria, and promoting a war with Iran.
But a few weeks ago, the South American country found itself on the front page after the American-backed “opposition” leader, Juan Guaido,’ claimed that he was the legitimate President of Venezuela and was immediately recognized by the United States, a host of Central and South American neighbors, and several European countries.
The stories regarding Venezuela are now circulating the possibility of “regime change” and even outright war against the Maduro government on the part of the “opposition” as well as neighboring countries beholden to the United States and the Western financier oligarchy.
But while most Americans do not support foreign interventions, there is a stunning level of ignorance on the part of the general public as to why the United States is so eager to destroy Venezuela’s government.
Supporters of the Venezuelan regime change
The most recent events to have taken place in Venezuela involve the declaration made by Juan Guaido, the American-backed opposition candidate, to be the legitimate president of the country.
Guaido’s claim to the presidency was almost immediately recognized by the United States as well as Israel and a host of American influenced countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, and Panama. Western Europe also joined the chorus with the UK, France, Germany, and Spain announcing that they would recognize Guaido as President of Venezuela unless new elections were held.
French President Macron even laughably stated that Venezuelan President Maduro was illegitimate and that France “welcomes the courage of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who march for their freedom.” This, of course, was despite the fact that his own country is seeing a massive protest movement against its government with himself as the lightning rod and the head of the rather intense crackdown on those protesters.
Government in exile
The anti-Venezuela coalition’s recognition of Guaido as President has thus created a “government in exile” or “government in waiting” situation with the coalition (mainly the United States) dealing only with Guaido instead of the actual elected President Maduro. This setup puts increasing pressure on President Maduro who has been under fire since his first inauguration through political and diplomatic means, sanctions, attempted coups and color revolutions, as well as threats of direct military action against the country.
It also comes fresh on the heels of an attempted military insurrection that took place days before Guaido’s announcement. In this instance, a number of Venezuelan military personnel attempted to steal arms from weapons depots and launch an insurrection against the government. However, the soldiers’ mutiny was put down quickly.
As a response to the open assault on the government of Venezuela, Maduro announced that American diplomats had 72 hours to leave the country. However, since the U.S. no longer recognizes Maduro as President, the world’s bully refused to comply and warned a response to anything that might endanger its diplomatic staff. This put Maduro in a tight spot – should he back down and allow the diplomats to stay despite the war being waged by them and the country they represent or should he arrest them and risk a military assault by the United States?
Maduro chose the former and subsequently extended the deadline to one month and stated that he would be willing to negotiate and work with the United States in regards to the American diplomatic staff.
Is the Venezuelan (Maduro) Government Good Or Bad?
Many people unfamiliar with the situation in Venezuela are confused. Most are asking themselves what they see as the most important question – is the Venezuelan government good or bad? As most audiences in the West, they want a simple answer to a simple question. Unfortunately, the answer is much more complex.
To be sure, Venezuela has experienced a massive economic decline since the days of Chavez’s administration. The country that was once riding high on petrol revenues has now collapsed economically and food lines, food scarcity, economic stagnation, unemployment, and soaring crime have all replaced the boom years.
That is in part due to the manipulation of the world’s oil supplies by the West, intense political pressure and economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the GCC as well as Chavez/Maduro’s adherence to socialism as an economic model. There is also little doubt that both the Chavez/Maduro governments were incredibly corrupt and authoritarian, having disarmed the population in the early years of power.
That being said, Venezuela has also stood firm against Western imperialist aims in their country and the rest of the world. It has resisted private central banking, Western corporate interests (such as Monsanto) and has flatly refused to participate and take money from the IMF.
The US has funded political opposition within Venezuela
It is also important to point out that ever since Chavez took power, the United States has funded political opposition inside Venezuela, imposed crippling sanctions on the country, and engaged in oil market manipulation so as to cut off sources of revenue for the government’s social programs. The economic crisis in Venezuela is partly one of Chavez/Maduro’s making but it is mostly because the largest economic and military power in the world has set its sights on the country and done everything short of direct military intervention to destroy it.
Venezuela’s economic troubles are now known the world over. Lack of jobs, low wages, poor working conditions, food shortages, and the like are now becoming synonymous with the nation itself.
But what is the source of such economic hardship?
Western corporate media outlets tend to blame government corruption and a lack of adequate free trade neo-liberalism and privatization of services and the Venezuelan national bank. Many alternative media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon too, claiming that Venezuela’s troubles are a result of socialism and the lack of a free market.
The corporate media argument should be dismissed out of hand. After decades of “free trade” and neoliberal economics of privatization, lack of tariffs, and lowering of wages and working standards, any lucid person should be able to realize that WTO Free Trade economics not only doesn’t work but that they are a cancer on the world that has done nothing but reap unemployment, low living standards, and social unrest.
The alternative media’s blame-placing on socialism and corruption, while making more valid points, should also be looked at with skepticism. Certainly, corruption is a major issue in Venezuela. What Venezuelans (and many other countries) accept as the normal cost of doing business has traditionally been better concealed in Western countries, thus Americans and Europeans are often convinced that their countries are somewhere free of the corruption so openly seen in “third world” nations.
However, it is still a fact of life that Venezuela suffers under a level of corruption greater than many other countries across the world which contributes to the difficulty in accomplishing anything, economic and otherwise, positive.
It isn’t just about socialism
Socialism, likewise, poses its own set of problems. A flawed economic ideology at its root, higher taxation, more and more governmental control over everyday aspects of life, and greater citizen dependency on the government for basic needs tends to choke off economic activity and, once the central government experiences problems, those problems are felt throughout the rest of society, making more problems and compounding the original issue.
However, one cannot simply reduce the Venezuelan economic crisis down to a Capitalist vs. Socialist economic battle with Venezuela doing poorly simply because it didn’t adhere to the similarly deeply flawed ideology of capitalism.
The fact is that Venezuela has been suffering for around a decade and a half from intense American sanctions, crippling the ability of the government to function properly and the economy to operate at its own pace and effectively implement its own economic policy in the way that other countries are able to do.
In 2006, the United States applied sanctions on Venezuela, four years after attempting a coup on the Venezuelan president, and it has added more sanctions almost every year. In recent weeks, the U.S. has also added sanctions against the state-owned oil company, PDVSA, essentially the only base of income for the country. How can socialism be blamed for Venezuela’s hardship when the country is under an economic blitzkrieg from one of the largest economies on the face of the planet? If Venezuela does fall, it won’t be because socialism brought it down. It will be because the United States underwent great financial and logistical expense to destabilize, starve, and undermine it.
When analyzing the government of Venezuela, one thing that must always be kept in mind is that Venezuela is a sovereign country. It does not threaten the United States, has not demonstrated that it wants to do so, and, even if it did, it is incapable of seriously delivering on any real military operation against the U.S. Thus, Venezuelan domestic affairs are just that, Venezuelan and Venezuelan they should remain.
An American hatred of socialism or Maduro does not justify American intervention in Venezuela or American influence over domestic Venezuelan affairs. Likewise, the opposition to America’s imperialism does not make Maduro a great leader or Venezuela’s government a great system. It is possible to oppose Maduro and America’s influence simultaneously. It is also possible to oppose Maduro while opposing American intervention in Venezuelan affairs.
Under the leadership of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was a stalwart source of resistance to the plans of the Anglo-Americans for years, particularly since the George W. Bush administration and, like the imperialist policies the Venezuelan government was initially responding to, continued through the Obama administration.
Likewise, for just as long, both Chavez’ government and the current Venezuelan administration has been the target of US/NATO-backed destabilization efforts, covert operations, and political pressure.
Venezuela has consistently resisted the imposition of American multi-national corporations like Monsanto from sinking their tentacles into the country. It has retained its state-owned central bank and refused money from the IMF as well as opposed American imperialism across the globe.
Anyone who has observed the Syrian situation or the crisis in Ukraine in recent years can clearly see a parallel between that of Venezuela in the sense that NGO groups, Western media, intelligence, and State Department related organizations initially create or nurture an “opposition” party based on real, exaggerated, or entirely imagined concerns which are then thrust into the streets with claims of oppression, violence, stolen elections, and human rights violations.
The country is then thrown into disarray when protests are stoked further and the government responds. Eventually, the introduction of violence on the part of the protesters threatens to either grind the country to a standstill (as in Egypt) or plunge it into a civil war (as in Syria).
If Venezuela is to crumble under the weight of socialism, the only appropriate response of the United States is to remove sanctions and deal with Venezuela on par with the dignity afforded to any other nation.
If socialism causes Venezuela to fall, let it be the fault of socialism, not decades of crippling sanctions, political meddling, and threats of military invasion.
Credit: The Organic Prepper