FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Lonely Campaign Against Chavez

by MARK WEISBROT

For anyone who has been to Venezuela, it’s easy to see why no one wants to take Washington’s side in this grievance.

A few weeks ago I passed by a 22-story government building in downtown Caracas, and saw about 200 students blocking the exits in a protest against the government.

Trapped inside past quitting time were thousands of employees including several Cabinet-level ministers. A few police stood by calmly, not interfering. This went on for hours. There were no injuries or arrests.

I thought of what would happen if people tried this in Washington. There would be tear gas, pepper spray, heads cracked, and mass arrests. Some would get felony charges. The protest would be over in 10 minutes. The next day I turned on the TV and on the biggest channels there were commentators and experts trashing the government, in ways that do not happen in the United States or indeed most countries in the world.

I picked up the two biggest newspapers at a newsstand — very slanted against the government, again like nothing in the United States.

It’s pretty hard to make a case that Venezuela is less democratic than other Latin American countries, and no respectable human rights organization has tried to do so.

The Venezuelan economy is booming, millions of poor people have access to health care and subsidized food for the first time, and President Chavez’ approval ratings have soared to more than 70% — according to opposition pollsters.

Still, the Bush administration perseveres on its lonely road.

The most recent embarrassment came at the Organization of American States meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this month, when the United States failed to convince other countries that the OAS should monitor and evaluate “democracy” within member countries. It was widely seen as an attempt to use the OAS against Venezuela, to which other countries responded by saying, “Please take your fight elsewhere.”

Just weeks before that, the US-backed candidate for OAS president lost to Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza, backed by Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. It was the first time in 60 years that the United States failed to get its candidate as head of the regional body. The Bush team pressured Insulza to make a statement about “elected governments that do not govern democratically,” which was seen as a swipe against Venezuela. But this turned out to be more of an embarrassment to Insulza than anything else.

After supporting a failed military coup in 2002, giving millions of dollars to the opposition (including some involved in the coup), funding a presidential recall effort that failed miserably last year — one would think that the Bush team would know when to give up. But they don’t.

And now an increasing number of US members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are beginning to question the wisdom of continually harassing our second-largest trading partner in South America and third-largest oil supplier.

It started when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced hostile questions about her Venezuela policy from five senators in January during her confirmation hearings. Now the criticism is spilling over into our House of Representatives. Eventually our government will have to learn to respect the results of democratic elections in Venezuela — which is all that the Venezuelans are asking from us.

 

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. and president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of  Failed: What the “Experts” Got Wrong About the Global Economy (Oxford University Press, 2015).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail