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

January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
Vijay Prashad
After Aleppo: the State of Syria
John Wight
Russia Must be Destroyed: John McCain and the Case of the Dodgy Dossier
Rob Urie
Meet the Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
The Russian Dossier Reminds Me of the Row Over Saddam’s WMDs
Eric Sommer
U.S.-China War: a Danger Hidden from the American People
Andrew Levine
Are Democrats Still the Lesser Evil?
Linda Pentz Gunter
What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal?
Robert Fantina
Trucks, ‘Terror’ and Israel
Richard Moser
Universal Values are Revolutionary Values
Russell Mokhiber
Build the Bagdikian Wall: “Sponsored News” at the Washington Post
Yoav Litvin
Establishment Narcissism – The Democrats’ Game of Thrones
David Rosen
Return of the Repressed: Trump & the Revival of the Culture Wars
Robert Koehler
War Consciousness and the F-35
Rev. William Alberts
The New Smell of McCarthyism Demands Faith Leaders Speak Truth to Power
John Laforge
Federal Regulator Halts Move to Toughen Radiation Exposure Limits
Norman Pollack
Farewell Address: Nazification of Hope
David Swanson
Imagine the Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of Peace
CJ Hopkins
Why Ridiculous Official Propaganda Still Works
Ron Jacobs
Striking in Reagan Time
Missy Comley Beattie
The Streep
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: The Potential Impacts of Collective Inaction
Uri Avnery
Confessions of a Megalomaniac
Kenneth Worles
Black Without a Home: King’s Dream Still Deferred
Geoff Dutton
The Russian Patsy
Jill Richardson
The Coming War on Regulations
Jeremy Brecher
Resisting the Trump Agenda is Social Self-Defense
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail