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“Venezuela is facing disaster”

Kit Knightly

There’s a video doing the rounds on Twitter, a solemn-voiced, serious-eyed man appealing directly to the camera: “Venezuela is facing disaster”, he intones. And then there’s stock footage of violence and protests and people carrying luggage. It’s all very upsetting. Watch it for yourself if you must:

The man is Ivan Briscoe, “Program Director – Latin America and Caribbean” for something called The International Crisis Group.

According to their about page, The International Crisis Group is:

…an independent organisation working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world.

Which sounds lovely. I mean, who doesn’t want a more peaceful world?

Of course, I suppose, technically “preventing conflict” could mean enforcing absolute consensus and not allowing dissent or individuality. I mean, I’m sure the CIA argued that the assassination of Salvador Allende “prevented conflict”, because otherwise they would have had to invade Chile.

But hey, they probably don’t mean that.

I mean, Ivan doesn’t actually condemn the assassination attempts on Maduro, or say that a military intervention would be both immoral and illegal. He doesn’t even mention the sanctions, illegally imposed, which are crippling the Venezuelan economy (this is “collective punishment”, and is banned by the UN Charter).

But nevermind all that, I’m sure Ivan isn’t trying to be deceitful. It’s not like this is a government funded organization, pushing an agenda…

Oh…hang on…

We’ve been here before. A lot actually. It’s always the same. The President/CEO worked for the Obama Administrartion:

Oh look, a Soros. The Caterpie equivalent of NGO-backers…

…and when you have a Soros, the Open Society Foundation is never far behind.

Let’s see. Open Society, check. Carnegie, check. Rockefeller…oh, no Rockefeller? No, there it is.

Now let’s wrap it up with a quick look at their corporate donors:

Banks, law firms, hedge-funds. You know, people who just love peace and justice and kittens.

And what’s this? Chevron, Statoil, BP, Noble Energy, ENI and Shell? Aren’t they all petroleum and natural gas based energy companies?

That’s strange, why would six major energy companies be on the board of an NGO promoting regime change in Venezuela?

Wait…doesn’t Venezuela have the largest oil reserves in the entire world? Why yes, yes it does.

And didn’t Chavez, and later Maduro, increase the royalties paid for Energy Companies who want access to Venezuelan oil? Why yes, yes they did.

So, to sum up, a “non-partisan” NGO partly funded by American billionaires, oil companies and Western governments wants a “peaceful” transition of power to avoid “further assassination attempts” or even a full on invasion.

How humanitarian of them.

“Venezuela is facing disaster” – yeah, no kidding.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

41 Comments

  1. citizen plain says

    Chavez’s former finance minister (promoted from bodyguard) has just pleaded guilty to stealing over $1Billion from the country. They were all at it. Cataclysmic corruption and mismanagement in the socialist system is the root of Venezuela’s problems. Read Ricardo Vaz articles describing the opinions voiced by the poor farmers and labourers trying to make a living in the worker owned co operatives when discussing the corruption and greed of the Maduro government and its appointees.

    • mark says

      Oh, all the corruption! Oh, all the poor Venezuelans in desperate need of freedom and democracy!! Oh, the children!!! Oh, the lack of human rights!!! I can hardly sleep because of it all!!! Oh, we must invade the country immediately!!! Let’s have another coup!!! The poor farmers!!!! The poor labourers!!!! Luckily the NED and the CIA and Victoria Nuland and all the NGOs are on the job!!! Don’t worry, you poor Venezuelans, Uncle Sam is riding to the rescue!!! We’ll save you soon!!! Just like we saved the poor Iraqis and the poor Libyans!!! We’ll take care of your oil for you!!! Don’t you worry, now!!!!

      • citizen plain says

        So you are saying that starvation, corruption, poverty etc all direct results of Chavez/Maduro policies are justifiable so allegedly the US can buy all Venezuela’s oil? A commodity far cheaper to produce and purchase from other sources. I don’t quite comprehend your logic.

    • frank says

      Wow, even in socialist countries there are corrupt politicians. Mind blown.
      Luckily in our neoliberal capitalist utopia there is zero corruption. Phew.

  2. rtj1211 says

    Who gave the officers training akin to that served up at Fort Benning?

  3. LokoBill says

    Awesome article!!! Long live The Chavistas. Bolsonaro and his uniformed goons will do the job I recently heard. Sad paths world is taking.

  4. Salford Lad says

    @ David McIlwain
    The oil price is a tool of coercion and economic sabotage of US Foreign Policy. It was used successfully to undermine the Soviet Union in the late ’80’s when it dropped to $9 .bbl.
    The same tactic has been in play since 2014.This time to undermine Russia, Iran and Venezuela economies. The price reached a peak of $147/bbl and fell as low as $23/bbl.
    This time Russia was prepared and diversified their economy to counteract the loss of income. plus their gas exports are unaffected.
    Venezuela has suffered most as it unwisely has not diversified its economy from dependence on oil revenue, and sanctions and destabilisation tactics by the USA has further damaged it.
    Saudi Arabia has also suffered, and reduced oil revenue has affected its budget. There was a move to sell off 5% of its State oil company Aramco to raise cash, this has since been abandoned.
    The new leader Mohammad Bin Salman attempted to stray off the ranch and restricted oil exports, to push up the price to mid $80’s/bbl recently.
    He was swiftly brought under control by means of the Khassoggi affair. Cameras, sound equipment and phone eavesdropping were all prepared and in play to record the grisly death. Blackmail tactics are now used to control him in many ways.
    The oil price has subsequently dropped down to the $50’s and the cycle starts again.
    The main oil exporters of the world are Saudi, Russia and the US, with export levels of approx. 10m bbl/day
    The US has not escaped consequences of the oil price drop. Their Fracking and deepwater drillers require a price above approx. $60 to break even, plus there is a fall of US dollars returning to buy US Treasury Bonds.

  5. Robbobbobin says

    Aw, come on Kit. Just because you’ve found a whole bunch of turds lying around in a public space, that doesn’t imply that there is a whole corresponding bunch of conniving, conspiratorial arseholes shitting on everyone. It could be just an optical illusion.

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  6. USAma Bin Laden says

    Ivan Briscoe of the Imperialist Crisis Group is right.

    Venezuela is Facing Disaster!!!!!

    Unfortunately, Briscoe forgets to mention that the disaster that Venezuela faces is from the American-backed destabilization campaign and attempted coup d’etats (I mean “regime change”) that the Americans have been fomenting for years since Hugo Chavez.

    This Made-in-America disaster is what threatens Venezuela.

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  7. The ICG was a Soros creation from memory. Gareth Evans the Australian Foreign minister who championed R2P and screwed over Timor Leste was involved.

  8. harry stotle says

    This Fisking of John Oliver’s ‘regime change’ apologia was recently posted by one the Off-G regulars (sorry can’t recall who it was).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fV-C1Ag5sI&t=1761s

    Its worth revisiting because it serves as a nice companion piece to Kit’s debunking of Ivan ‘wont someone think of the Venezuelans’ Briscoe.

    • frank says

      Indeed. This is a MUST WATCH.

      One of the best examples of propaganda and its debunking you will ever see. And very informative.

  9. Thanks Kit – great stuff. Perhaps you could explore this a little further, and find out why the Oil price is falling so dramatically, just at the time that there is this “difficulty” with the Saudis, and following the apparent cooperation between the KSA and Russia that finally put the Oil price back up to a reasonable level last month. Have the Saudis increased their production without advertising it, or has the US somehow done this, or is it all the activities of speculators in the market acting in the interests of the Empire?
    Point is that it was the collapse in the Oil price several years ago that was chiefly responsible for bringing Venezuela’s economy to its knees, as well as nearly breaking Russia. And that appeared to be a joint effort by the Saudi-US coalition.
    Just asking!

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  10. Emily Durron says

    I’d like to add my voice to those who have already expressed their thanks for this well written and well researched article. It is a million times more worthwhile reading OffG than the government press releases copy-pasted wholesale and passed off as journalism in the shitty MSM.

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  11. Roberto says

    All pretty dumb, actually. If the whole rotten mess is collapsing and probably won’t be fixed, then why bother with sanctions and other methods (which only punish citizens and rally support against external influence)?
    It just gives Maduro easy targets to blame. And it’s all about blame … the most effective propaganda is always that which contains at least some truth.

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    • Roberto, America is the SOLE cause of the problems facing Venezuela by the sanctions imposed due to Maduro not agreeing to the trade conditions offered by the US. American hegemony and desperate need for oil, having to Frack America to total pollution, losing out seriously in the war for oil in the middle east, it is plain for all with an open mind to see. America pillages the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the Caribbean but will need more for it’s world domination plans into the future.
      The oil belongs to Venezuela and South American States, America has no right to interfere with a sovereign country let alone invade it when they are deliberately causing the failure of the country.

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  12. Frankly Speaking says

    It won’t be popular here, but the decline of Venezuela was already underway whilst Chavez was still alive and it was mainly through mismanagement.

    More recently the US has become involved directly, organising regime change for sure, but the Marxists have shot themselves in the foot a long while ago. Once you can’t feed the people you’re done for.

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    • Gary Weglarz says

      Frankly Speaking – what nonsense. Chavez was in the gunsights and under the economic warfare thumb of the empire from day one. The U.S. supported a coup back in 2002 which is well documented. Pretending not to see the influence of the U.S. in Venezuela’s not being able to “feed the people” makes one a rather pathetic shill for empire I would say. By your criteria if only Yemen would simply bow deeply and submit to Saudi and U.S. rule, well, their children wouldn’t have to continue to starve and die of cholera.

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      • Frankly Speaking says

        I didn’t realise that there were so many Marxists here. They seem to be as narrow minded in their worldview as neocons and neoliberals. Guys, they world is not black and white, it’s not that simple.

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        • Makropulos says

          Have you ever actually read Marx? And this “it’s not that simple” is usually an indication of evasion that ends up with, “Gosh – the world is such a complex place. Who can possibly understand any of it?” The intrusion of a spurious “complexity” – as we can also see with all this introduction of postmodernist/identity politics – is really an attempt to create obfuscation.

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          • mark says

            Isn’t it a shame that the Zionists are gunning down unarmed demonstrators and kids in Gaza with British sniper rifles and dum dum bullets, and throwing Palestinians out of the homes they have occupied for generations and stealing the land they have farmed for generations? But gosh, it’s oh so complicated and we can’t do anything about it. Isn’t it a shame that 85,000 children have died of starvation In Yemen and there have been over a million cases of cholera after all the bombing with British bombs and British aircraft and British staff officers? But gosh, it’s oh so complicated we can’t do anything about it. It’s not as if it’s very simple, like Syria, and Iraq, and Libya, where it’s perfectly obvious you have to bomb the shit out of them immediately because Bombing Brown People is good for them. That’s not complicated at all. Everybody can see that.

        • Starac says

          FS, Some of your posts are well put together.
          But here….
          Would you kindly tell your thoughts of Marxism.
          On this topic you do not sound like a thinker with the open mind.
          I think you are one sided in a dogmatic way.

          Regarding Venezuela, who did they attacked? Which country are they harming?
          Shouldn’t we all let them be. Even help them to be what they want.
          Who are we, or anyone else to tell them how to do things in their own country?

        • mark says

          So leave people and countries alone to make their own mistakes and replace non performing governments if they wish. Don’t threaten them with invasion. Don’t murder their leaders. Don’t bankroll terrorism and subversion. Don’t threaten to starve their people. Don’t behave like Nazis on steroids so that Wall Street can loot and destroy whole countries. And leave out the lying, hypocritical bullshit. If you’re worried about human rights and democracy, go and bomb your chums in Israel, Shady Wahabia, the Gulf Dictatorships, Ukraine instead.

      • Frankly Speaking says

        Did you read my comment? I didn’t say that the US was not trying to bring them down. My point is that their task is made MUCH easier by the fact that Chavez started well but complacency set in and he began to fail, same with Maduro.

        There are no sanctions on Venezualan oil exports, the country should be swimming in cash like Russia, but it’s not because it’s now mismanaged and become corrupt.

        Logically, only blaming the US does not make sense. Sure they are a key part of the problem but not all. You need to answer this – why, despite US efforts to destabilise and even destroy Russia has Russia become stronger whereas Venezuela has become a basket case?

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        • Money, as ever, is not the problem. The blockade and hoarding of real goods is.

          You monetarist types aleays get it backwards.

          Every hyperinflstion in history involved real goods shortages and usually foreighn currency debts.

          Pinning the problems on nonexistent ‘printing money’ is a popular myth. And quite wrong.

        • Constantine says

          Russia is far more developed than Venezuela and with even more natural resources. Once it set self-sufficiency as its aim, numerous practical results were achieved. Industry, infrastructure, technical knowledge, a disciplined and educated population, all are present and canserve the cause, although there is still much work to be done.

          Further, the Russian government has successfully curbed much of the soft power of the US in the country and any compradores that Washington might have, particularly within the oligarch class have been forced into submission (for now at least). Thus, the room for US-sponsored subterfuge is extremely limited.

          Finally, in geographical terms Russia borders its most significant ally, the ascendant power of China. This provides both security and cooperation with not much hindrance by the US and its vassals.

          Venezuela lacks almost all of these advantages. Quite the opposite really. Therefore, the ability of the US government to actively and successfully destabilize the country is fantastically increased. And that is what has come to pass.

    • You were making the case for the EU on the new world order thread and I pointed out they are in lockstep with American foreign policy. Take a look at the list of European donors above, and then think. Europe and America, the Gulf dictators and “the Free World” are conducting an illegal economic war against Venezuela along with financing terrorists and fascists. Any economic failings by the Chavez and Madero governments don’t change the fact they are under siege.

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      • Frankly Speaking says

        The EU is fundamentally decent but the neoliberals have tried to hijack it. That doesn’t automatically render the EU a malevolent force. Yes there are bad elements in it, just like any other organisation or country. You display extremely simplistic, polarised thinking.

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        • “Tried”….they’ve written it into law in the Maastricht Treaty and those that followed. Nothing could be clearer.

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          • Indeed. Maastrict is a neoliberal ideological master plan.

            The EU is a neoliberal project and neoliberalism is its raison d’etre

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            • Frankly Speaking says

              I’m interested to learn whether you have ever lived and worked in the EU, excluding the UK?

              Not necessarily you, but i guess most anti EU comments are from those without real experience and also those who rightly criticise the Euro Zone but prefer to throw away the baby with the bath water

        • mark says

          The EU is a fundamentally corrupt, arrogant, and profoundly undemocratic and unrepresentative organisation. It exists solely to serve global corporate interests and seeks to destroy the nation state. It works in lockstep with NATO. Any country that joins or is otherwise involved with the EU, has to “coordinate” its “defence” policies with NATO. It acts as a tool of US aggression and imperialism and a source of cannon fodder for their endless wars. It operates economically as a protectionist racket causing immense suffering in developing countries. It is not “fundamentally decent” or a force for good. If you think it is, maybe you should go to Greece and ask the people there exactly how “decent” it is.

    • Jim Scott says

      Frankly you are repeating propaganda that is in many ways opposite the truth. Try watching this expose’ of the US latest attempt to steal Venezuela’s oil to help out the poor old Rockefellers.
      https://youtu.be/YUYWrPiUeWY

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    • Kerry F says

      Yeah its amazing how well capitalists feed their people: GMO corn buffered with GMO high fructose corn syrup laced with Monsanto pesticides filled with a hormone and preservative coctail of beef something or other and you can get it all for a dollar at Macdonalds.
      Frankly you have been brainwashed.

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  13. Molloy says

    .

    Well done. A courageous and succinct piece of writing.

    (Irony alert) shall we now ask Geoffrey Cox ‘QC MP’ to draw up the HR and war crimes indictments against all of those named and against the institutions involved?

    Sláinte

    p.s. Am willing (seriously) to have a go, protocol warning letters first, dependent on a/ a jurisdiction which has not been suborned, and (b) costs immunity.

    .

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  14. Jules Moules says

    So, it’s Ivan The Lickspittle? Typical establishment garbage.

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