New Democracy 55, Organ of New Democratic Marxist-Leninist Party of Sri Lanka
ON 9TH MARCH 2015, US President Obama issued an Executive Order declaring a national emergency affirming that the situation in Venezuela poses an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. Obama has thus confirmed that all US moves thus far in Venezuela have been driven by US imperialist interests. The recent desperate move indicates that a large-scale military attack is the only avenue left for the US to achieve a regime change in Venezuela, after thirteen years of subversion, waste of millions of dollars on a pro-coup opposition incapable of winning elections, instigation of destabilizing violence, generation of disruptive shortages, promotion of smuggling of goods across the Colombia border, and pressure on the currency.
An overview of US intervention in Venezuela is useful at this stage. President Chavez’s rejection of the US demand that Venezuela supports its “war on terrorism” won worldwide support. The US reacted by organizing and backing a military-business coup on 12th April 2002 which was soon overcome by a mass uprising backed by constitutionalist armed forces. The US followed it with backing for an executive lockout in the oil industry from December 2002 to February 2003 aimed to bring down the government but was defeated by the workers and engineers. In 2004, the US unsuccessfully conspired to bring down Chavez through a referendum, organized by NGOs funded by the subversive agency “National Endowment for Democracy”. This was followed by an unsuccessful US backed boycott of Congressional elections in 2005. Chavez got re-elected in 2006, humiliating the US-backed candidate.
However, in 2007 a US backed coalition secured a victory by narrowly defeating constitutional amendments aimed at socializing the economy. But Chavez reversed the setback in 2009 by winning a referendum on constitutional amendments including the abolition of term limits, and got re-elected for a fourth term in 2012 against a US financed candidate. Following Chavez’s death in 2013 Chavez’s selected candidate Nicolás Maduro was elected President defeating Obama’s favourite. The opposition and the US challenged the result for many months after the rest of the world accepted it.
Repeated electoral defeats persuaded US political strategists to resort to violent, unconstitutional means. The progressive domestic policy of the Government of Venezuela and its foreign policy opposing US domination of regional political bodies such as the OAS and US military missions in Latin America made Venezuela a key target for regime change.
Venezuela played a leading role in promoting organizations that encouraged Latin American and Caribbean integration to the exclusion of the US and Canada. Petro-Caribe, a Venezuelan sponsored trade and investment organization to benefit Caribbean and Central America countries excluded the US and Canada. The regional political organization UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) effectively sidelined the US dominated OAS and includes 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Venezuela also joined MERCOSUR, a free trade organization which includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. These moves made the Chavista regime a barrier to the political dominance of the US in Latin America. Also Venezuela’s strong political and economic ties with Cuba helped to weaken the aggressive stand of the US towards Cuba.
Venezuela played a leading role in opposing US imperialist meddling and aggression in many instances including the US backing of the coups in Haiti and Honduras and US-led invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Its strengthening of trade ties with Iran in defiance of US sanctions, set it on a collision course with US plans of a global empire.
US imperialism has always concocted lies to justify its brutal invasions. Demonizing the victim has been necessary to make the invasion more palatable during the build-up to and early stages of the invasion, although it has not taken long to expose the lies after the event.
The motivation for the present threat against Venezuela arises from the pathetic failure of US policy, firstly to stop Maduro from getting elected in 2013, and then to bring him down by a prolonged smear campaign against the voting process, by encouraging violent riots in 2014 organized by US-backed terrorists which killed 43 and injured 870, and by backing the failed coup of February 2015 in which several US embassy personnel used their diplomatic cover to infiltrate and recruit Venezuelan military officials to plot the overthrow of the government and assassinate Maduro.
Obama’s desperation is self-evident from his bizarre unsupported claim of a Venezuelan “threat to national security and foreign policy”. On the contrary, it is the US that has financed proxy political and military actions designed to overthrow legally constituted elected governments of Venezuela as well as have warships, military and air forces bases in the vicinity of Venezuela.
Thus, Obama’s cantankerous tone is partly a battle of nerves to test the resilience of the regime, partly a threat and partly a test of political will of Latin American regimes. He failed on all counts when the 16th March emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of UNASUR unanimously rejected US sanctions and military intervention. The European Union too failed to adopt the US sanctions although the European Parliament echoed Obama’s demand to free the jailed terrorists.
President Maduro has stood firm, and declared a national emergency and asked for special powers. Although an immediate invasion is unlikely, the US strategy could be to polarize Latin America, create conditions to run down Venezuela’s economy and thus create a “humanitarian” pretext for a costly military intervention. Anti-imperialists and democrats around the world cannot leave anything to economic sense prevailing over brutal imperialist arrogance.
There is a need to stir public opinion internationally on US intentions in Venezuela and build a campaign to defend Venezuela.