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.

 

More articles by:

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).

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail