(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
In Memory of Eduardo Galeano, 1940-2015.
At the 2009 Summit of the Americas, Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama a copy of Galeano’s book Open Veins of Latin America which details the United State’s military aggression, economic exploitation and political coups or “regime changes” in Latin America.
In the 2012 Summit of the Americas, Obama’s reception by Latin American nations was noticeably cool – primarily because the United States refused to end its 50 year boycott of Cuba.
So at the 2015 Summit of the Americas, Obama walked in with a smile on his face and a proposal for a rapprochement with Cuba in one hand, and, in the other, his newly minted Executive Order 2015 which placed sanctions for human rights abuses on several Venezuelan military leaders and government officials. Under his emergency powers, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat to the United State’s national security.”
What was Obama thinking? Did he think people wouldn’t notice the bait and switch as he tried to appease Cuba and the Latin American nations while at the same time he applied the same old cold war tactics to isolate Venezuela as the more recent example of a Latin American country standing up to US imperialism? (To make matters worse, these particular military officers and judicial officials are those that many Bolivarians see as the most active in preventing a highly publicized attempt to destabilize the Venezuela government in February 2014 to set it up for another coup.)
The unanimous demand from the Latin American nations to repeal the sanctions against Venezuela show how disconnected Obama and the United States government are from changes in the balance of power in the Americas in the last decade. This includes the failure of the United States to maintain its neoliberal hegemony and the rise of a left liberal block of nations (i.e., Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Argentina, and Brazil among others).
Admittedly, much of the loss of US hegemony in Latin America is due to the United States over-extending itself in brutal and unsuccessful oil wars in the Middle East and Asia, but much of the impetus of this new left leaning block is due to the influence of the Bolivarian “21st century socialist revolution” of Venezuela. Beginning with the election of Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s and the drafting of a “socialist” constitution, Venezuela has been instrumental in establishing several inter-regional support groups such as ALBA, UNISUR and CELAC which exclude the United States. The new left liberal block of nations has also benefited by Venezuela’s generous sharing of its oil wealth with its neighbors.
So even though most will scoff at the idea that Venezuela is a real military threat to the United States (given the size and nuclear capability and the fact that Venezuela recently reduced its military by an unheard of 34%), the spread of an ideology that challenges the United States’ right to exploit and impoverish its southern neighbors could be sufficient reason to consider Venezuela a “threat” to United States’ ideology of imperialism; thus causing the US to resort to its age old practice of “regime change.”
Seems Like We’ve Heard This Tune Before
For the past 150 years, the United States has treated Latin American as its own personal backyard to exploit. Most of the exploitation has been accomplished through economic dominance and the support of right-wing dictatorships. However, if we look at those countries that experienced actual “regime changes” involving military coups, we can count, just since World War II, a minimum of 11 countries (and I’m sure I’ve missed some) where the United States was either directly or indirectly involved with military regime changes in the Americas– either to protect specific multinational corporate interests or change regimes that promoted an ideology that was more generally in conflict with Capitalist interests (communism/socialism, nationalism, liberation theology): Guatemala
1954, Cuba1959, The Dominican Republic – 1961, Brazil – 1964, Chile – 1970-73, Argentina – 1976, Nicaragua – 1981-90, Panama 1989, Venezuela 2002, Haiti – 2004, and Honduras – 2009.
To learn some more about a recently published secret report that documents the United States plans for achieving regime change in Venezuela follow the discussion below …
The Smoking Gun
It should come as no surprise then that there has been a continuous effort to destabilize the government of Venezuela since former President Chavez was first elected 14 years ago in 1998. The US-backed coup attempt (April, 2002) followed by the managers’ lockout of the nation’s petroleum industry in 2002-2003 are well-known throughout the world. Plots against President Maduro’s life have been revealed and foiled; the opposition has increased their attacks on the Venezuelan infrastructure, electrical system and food supply & distribution systems. Electricity to swathes of Venezuela have been cut by saboteurs and basic foods such as milk and other household products have been hoarded or destroyed to give the appearance of shortages. Venezuelans are now experiencing this on a daily basis.
A document which verifies that these types of attacks as part of a plan to destabilize the Venezuelan government through a “rolling coup” was made public by the Venezuelan government and published in RT News with commentary by well known progressive journalist, Eva Golinger. The document explains in detail, the sources and careful planning behind the Rolling Coup.
Titled, Plan Estratégico Venezuela (Strategic Plan Venezuela), the plan outlines objectives, goals and methods for destabilizing the country. The plan was prepared in a meeting on June 13, 2013 with leaders of the Venezuelan opposition and representatives of the following four organizations:
1) Fundación Internacionalismo Democrático of former Colombian
President Alvaro Uribe Vélez,
2) Fundación Centro de Pensamiento Primero Colombia (The Center of
Thought Foundation – Colombia First);
3) The US firm, FTI Consulting (Forensic Technologies International), headquartered in
West Palm Beach, Florida, FTI Consulting employs more than 4,000 professionals in
24 countries across six continents with a Latin American division.
4) USAID – The United States Agency for International Development for Latin America
The entire document is available at the Axis of Logic website where it has been translated into English. The following are a few of the more important strategies in the report:
“To generate excitement with short messages but ones that reach greater numbers of people, returning to the social problems, causing social discontent. To increase the problems with shortages of basic products of the food basket.
To maintain and increase the sabotage that affect services to the population particularly to the electrical system, that allows for blaming the government for alleged inefficiencies and negligence.
To create crisis situations in the streets to facilitate the intervention by the United States and NATO forces, with the support of the government of Colombia. When possible, the violence must cause deaths and injuries. Encourage hunger strikes of several days, mass mobilizations, problems in universities and other sectors of society already identified as governmental institutions.
To move all available forces to compile a dossier of disrepute and weakening of the government that will give greater credibility to the opposition. With the support of the United States government, manipulate the involvement of the government and senior officials with drug trafficking and money laundering…..
Hire journalists and reporters from nine (9) international media: CNN, The New York Times, The New York Post, Reuters, AP, EFE, The Miami Herald, Time, BBC, and Venezuela’s Clarín, ABC, among others […].
To extend the image of a severe crisis in Venezuela to more external media and possible countries as a means of managing international public opinion.
To contact military groups, active and retired who have already been identified; to extend the campaign to delegitimize the government’s prestige within the [Venezuelan] Armed Forces under the principle that the Armed Forces must take on the role of guarantor of democracy in Venezuela. We must achieve, by any means, the reestablishment of the constitution. It is vital to prepare the military for that from a scenario of crisis and social unrest championing insurrection against the government, or at least support of a foreign intervention or a civil uprising. (Source for Plan Estratégico Venezuela (in Spanish): RT News).”
The US Recipe for Regime Change
The US strategy for destabilization and “regime change” includes any one of three components and usually a combination of at least two:
1)Propaganda through the manipulation of the major media.
When the Bolivarian Revolution began, private pro-capitalist corporations owned 90% of the large media outlets in Venezuela. Through State regulation of media licenses, the Chavez government did not renew RCTV to protect the national interest because of RCTV’s promotion of insurgencies against the government. Currently the dominance of the media by private corporations been reduced to 60%. There has also been an increase in local grassroots radio and TV stations. Nevertheless, the media still has a predominantly anti-Bolivarian bias, especially when you include the international media coming from the North.
This is particularly important when analyzing the coverage of the street demonstrations last February. As the Strategic Plan noted, one way to foment calls for regime change is to create violent and disruptive demonstrations which can make the government response look repressive. Most of the Northern media and Western human rights groups blame the Maduro Government and Government supporters for the over 40 deaths that occurred during the street demos due to the government security force’s use of excessive force. However, a reliable progressive news source offers this analysis:
At the time of the protests, the independent news organization Venezuelanalysis.com listed a total of 40 deaths, 20 of which were deemed to have been caused by opposition barricades, or opposition violence. The deaths included people gunned down while trying to clear barricades, ambulances being blocked from hospitals by opposition groups, and a motorbike rider who was decapitated after opposition groups strung razor wire across a road. A similar death toll count by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reflected a similar consensus: while security forces were indeed responsible for some deaths, the opposition groups were hardly peaceful. Around half the victims of the 2014 unrest were either government supporters, members of security forces or innocent bystanders.
As an OWS demonstrator I am particularly sensitive to my right to demonstrate both disruptively (walking between cars in the middle of the street and disrupting traffic) and nonviolently. However, while condemning the government for cracking down on freedom, the main stream media shied away from any criticism of the opposition’s intentional restriction of movement through the use of semi-permanent barricades which blocked ambulances from reaching hospitals, widespread intimidation and violent attacks on government supporters, and repeated attacks on journalists ranging from state media workers and community radio stations to international media.
In March 2014, a mob of anti-government protesters beat journalists working for organizations such as Reuters and AP. One photo-journalist, Cristian Hernandez, was beaten with a lead pipe. Another journalist that witnessed the beating tweeted, “They protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo journalists for no reason —where is the coherence?”
This is not to say that there was no excessive force used by the State and the State did take some responsibility in punishing at least two of the State security forces. There was, however, no similar call for the opposition force to take responsibility for the excesses of the opposition nor analysis of the complexity of an insurgent situation by Western human rights groups or media.
2) Economic disruption and manipulation.
Economic manipulation of resources in the Venezuelan situation ranges from day to day hoarding of basic goods by private wholesalers to major disruptions of electrical services. This might not seem that important as they appear as little isolated incidents — no milk on the State store shelves (which the rightwing propaganda attributes to bureaucratic mismanagement by the State). We forget, however that although the State has an elected socialist government which makes laws regulating the distribution of goods, and there has been an increase in the nationalization of industries, most of the actual productive forces are still in private hands and under the control of capitalism. The capitalists have found these small “disruptions” not only increase their profits if they can sell these goods on the black market, but an excellent way to sow discontent among the people. While most Venezuelans can still meet their basic needs (thanks to the government’s social welfare programs) it wears people down if they have to spend half their day going from one place to another just to find basic food stuffs or buy them on the black market at inflated prices which take their whole paycheck. The same goes for unexpected electrical outages that can cause hours of unintended delays and inability to function on a daily basis.
The recent manipulation of the oil markets by Saudi Arabia (along with, some suggest, the complicity of the US as it partner in crime) has caused the price of oil to drop precipitously, This has caused serious damage to the Bolivarian economy since Venezuela is an oil based economy. This has not only caused a serious depression in the Venezuela economy and massive inflation (60%), but has been used by the right-wing to weaken the people’s faith in the revolution since much of the social safety network was paid for by oil revenues. It has also weakened some of the regional alliances since Venezuela’s oil revenues were a part of its power base in negotiating with other Latin American countries.
The drop in oil prices, however, did force the government to establish a progressive income tax on non-oil revenues. This year, the non-oil revenues made up almost half of all revenues which provides a much more balanced economy that is not as dependent on the roller-coaster ride of fluctuating oil prices and hopefully will lead to more emphasis on diversification into non-oil producing manufacturing in the future.
3) Direct military intervention.
With the rise of independent left leaning nations in Latin America, the United States can not rely on direct military intervention without some outcry of the citizenry. Or at least they have to try and put a good face on it as Obama tried to do (unsuccessfully I might add) at the Summit of the Americas. The intervention has to be done in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.” But while the citizens of the South seem more willing to condemn imperialist invasions, this does not mean that they will automatically be stopped. Witness the right-wing military coup in Honduras in 2009. It occurred with the silent complicity and possibly active cooperation of the United States as soon as then Honduran President Zelaya passed laws to double the minimum wage, talked about joining the progressive regional alliance of ALBA and wanted to call a people’s convention to rewrite the constitution, much as Venezuela had done under Chavez. As the notable global planner, George Kennan advised in 1948, “if we are to maintain our wealth, we must put aside “idealistic” concepts and keep “straight to the power concepts.” Talking about democracy and equality is all well and good as long as the tilt of the playing field guarantees that the “right” folks win.”
Since Venezuela has the largest oil resources in the Western hemisphere and the largest supplier of United States oil, we should not take lightly the United States goal to achieve regime change in Venezuela.
I would like to pose two questions to end this diary and start further discussion:
1) While Venezuela has been able to keep the loyalty of the voters even as the economy worsens, will it be able to stop the US goal of creating regime change; even if that change needs to be done in a more subtle and circuitous manner with the increasing support Maduro is gathering in the Latin America countries?
2) Why do you think the Bolivarian government chose this moment in time to reduce its military by 34%?
Bibliography of Sorts:
“Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?” By Andrew Topf
Posted on Tues, 23 December 2014 23:40 | 74
“Amnesty International Whitewashes Venezuelan Opposition Abuses”
By RYAN MALLETT-OUTTRIM- TELESUR ENGLISH, March 31st 2015
“Venezuela Tops Latin America in Military Spending Cuts, Slashes Arms Budget by 34%”
By LUCAS KOERNER in venezuelanalysis.com
“Obama Could Face Another Disastrous Summit Due to Sanctions Against Venezuela”
By MARK WEISBROT – CENTER FOR ECONOMIC POLICY RESEARCH, April 10th 2015
“Obama’s Legacy Set to Fail in Latin America” By EVA GOLINGER , April 6th 2015
Source: TeleSur English
Regional Leaders Back Venezuela at Panama Summit as US Blocks Final
Release: March 09, 2015. FACT SHEET: Venezuela Executive Order
Regional Leaders Back Venezuela at Panama Summit as US Blocks Final Declaration
By LUCAS KOERNER venezuelanalysis.com
Fifty Years of Imperial Wars: Global Neoliberalism and America’s Drive for Global Domination. By Prof. James Petras, Global Research. March 2, 2015