With Washington talking up a military coup (Democrats for once in no hurry to berate Trump on the issue) and Russia a sufficiently interested party to have flown nuclear capable bombers into Caracas last month, it behoves us all to get up to speed on Venezuela. It should go without saying we can’t trust a word corporate media say but, case it doesn’t, here’s why.
First, corporate media are not independent but reliant on market forces. This applies not just to the billionaire media but, for reasons given elsewhere, to Guardian and BBC too.
Second, media both sides of the Atlantic have a long record of backing US predation on the global south. Never have they deviated from this – take the Guardian’s cheerleading on Iraq. Worse, they’ve abdicated a core duty in their refusal to explore motives that cast a very different light on Western interventions sold to us as humanitarian.
Third, sanctions have sown economic havoc in Venezuela. They’re spoken of in such calm tones that an already innocuous word loses even what little force it might have had. But sanctions kill. They are one way the powerful bully the weak in the name of high ideals belied, for those who choose to study them, by the facts.
I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, Wall Street and the Bankers; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914, Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar in 1916. In China I saw to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. Capone operated in three districts. I operated on three continents.
Major-General Smedley Butler
(I have no quarrel with the specific claims above but find them reductive. They are accurate – and we should not downplay the fourth claim, as dollar and petrodollar hegemony come under challenge in Eurasia too – but in the context of Washington’s ‘right’ to police all of Latin America, disobedient states are brought to heel (through fascism if need be) not just to protect particular assets but to send a message across the entire continent. As in the middle east, Washington and Wall Street will brook no self-determination in their “spheres of interest”.)
No, for sense on Venezuela we must look elsewhere. I’ve quoted Stephen Gowans before, on Syria. Now here he is on crisis in Caracas.
The US-led and coordinated intervention to overthrow Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro by recognizing Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly as the interim president, has nothing whatever to do with restoring democracy in Venezuela (which was never overturned) and everything to do with promoting US business interests.
Washington’s imperial arrogance in effectively appointing Guaidó as president, attempting to go over the heads of Venezuelans—who alone have the right to decide who their leaders are—is motivated by the same concerns that have motivated other US interventions around the world: toppling governments that put their citizens’ interests above those of US investors.
That Washington has a propensity to engage in destabilization operations against leftwing governments is hardly a secret. From 1898 to 2004, the US government undertook 41 successful regime change interventions in Latin America, an average of one every two-and-a-half years. And that excludes the unsuccessful ones, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion.
In almost every instance, US regime change interventions around the world have been motivated either directly or indirectly by commercial considerations, and were undertaken to restore or protect the primacy of US business interests in foreign lands. And in many cases, the interventions paved the way for the installation of rightwing dictatorships.
Then there’s Craig Murray, UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan before Blair sacked him for telling the truth about its leader Islam Karimov. You can’t blame Tony. So what if Karimov did have the habit, when not making his family obscenely rich in a land of grinding poverty, of boiling his opponents in oil? He was Our Friend, allowing ex Soviet airbases in his fiefdom to be used in strikes on Iraq to liberate its people by killing them in hundreds of thousands.
Now here’s Murray on Venezuela. Note the picture below, widely circulated as evidence of Maduro’s unpopularity. That unpopularity, we’re told, is due to mass starvation in the country. Now I’m the last to deny – see my point on sanctions – that Venezuelans are suffering. But are they the ones who want Maduro out? Why not do as Murray suggests, and study that image. Do those protesters look ill fed and dressed in rags? Or are they those elites who see, in Maduro’s attempts to continue with ‘Chavismo’, a threat to their wealth and privilege?