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Venezuela on the Edge of Civil War

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Venezuela is a step closer to civil war after July 20th‘s “fake referendum ” held by the government opposition. Corporate Fake News (i.e. mainstream corporate media) haled the fake referendum as a vote of “no confidence” for President Nicolas Maduro.

The vote count of the fake referendum has not been released and likely never will be. Only the number of the turnout was reported as being over 7 million, but who needs to count votes when the referendum was only a symbolic protest?

Symbolic or not, the U.S. Empire propaganda mill is already churning out that President Nicolas Maduro is no longer the legitimate president of Venezuela. As in Syria, when the Empire labels a president illegitimate it uses it as a fig leaf for illegal aggression against a sovereign country.

The fake referendum now opens the door for more U.S. meddling, both covert and overt. The Empire has had its foot firmly inside the door for 17 years.  Reports going back to 2007 document hundreds of millions of dollars funded by the U.S. State Department to instigate an insurgency in Venezuela.  A few hundred million dollars to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro is peanuts for the U.S., compared to the $5 billion that was “invested” in Ukraine’s color revolution.

The U.S. started gunning for Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution from the moment that he was democratically elected in 1998, according to award winning journalist Eva Golinger (Mike Whitney interview, Counter Punch).  Chavez’s election and his Bolivarian Revolutionary challenged the ideology of neoliberalism, pushed by the Empire to exploit developing countries and their resources.

Zealots of neoliberalism, led by the high priests of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, preach that privatization of state owned enterprises, devaluation of the currency, cutting social services for the poor, exploitation of natural resources by international corporations, consolidation of agricultural land into large private holdings, importing cheap subsidized U.S. agriculture, forcing small farmers into city sweatshops, and opening markets to foreign imports will create economic prosperity. It does not. It is Voodoo Economics and the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund know it. What neoliberalism does is guarantee that international bankers will be repaid their crippling loans.

The Bolivarian Revolution rejected neoliberalism and enacted a new socialist constitution in 1999, which lead the way for President Hugo Chavez to nationalize Venezuela’s oil wealth, so its revenues could be used to provide essential services and anti-poverty programs. Chavez used Venezuela’s natural resources for Venezuelans, which is heresy to neoliberals. Chavez’s charismatic personality, commitment to the poor and concern for social justice made him a hero loved by the people.  His legacy and “Chavismo” revolutionary socialism lives on.

Chavismo that denies international corporations profits are fighting words to the U.S. Empire. In 2002 President George W. Bush was caught red handed as the instigator of a plot that kidnapped Chavez and tried to overthrow him in a coup d’etat. The coup failed because the people turned out in the streets demanding Chavez’s return and reinstatement. Bush was left with egg on his face, the blood of dozens murdered in the coup attempt and a smoking gun in his hand (The Guardian).

In 2009 there was initially hope that the newly elected President Barack Obama might change the Empire’s aggressive foreign policy to one of accommodation. But while presidents come and go, the U.S. foreign policy objectives do not change. Obama turned out to be a willing neocon and neoliberal, and he went along with the deep state of the military-industrial complex, Wall Street bankers, big oil, big pharma, mainstream corporate media, oligarchs, spy agencies, political hacks, bureaucrats, and the 1% that really run the Empire.

In 2015 President Obama turned up the heat on Venezuela by imposing economic sanctions. To make the sanctions legal Obama had to declare that Venezuela is a national security threat to the U.S. Even Obama could not keep a straight face with that whopper. Unusually embarrassed, Obama mumbled that the U.S. was not really worried about an invasion from Venezuela, admitting that it was all a hoax to follow the letter of U.S. law, even though it violated the spirit of the law.

Venezuela was already suffering economically from the collapse of oil prices. Imposing economic sanctions was like kicking a person when down. That was exactly the idea. When the Empire wants to engineer a regime change, a cruel way is to make the people suffer so that they take out their frustration on the established government.

After Hugo Chavez died in office in 2013, his vice president Nicolas Maduro was democratically elected president. Maduro’s election was a squeaker with him getting just a small majority of 50.6% of the vote. Former President and international election observer Jimmy Charter certified Maduro’s victory as fair, but that did not stop the opposition and the U.S. for screaming election fraud.

The U.S. thinks that its exceptionalism gives it the right to meddle in every other country’s elections and undermine their democracies. It hurts too much to laugh at the hypocrisy of the Empire’s faux outrage about Russia’s Putin allegedly meddling in the U.S. 2016 election. Irony goes over the heads of the corporate Fake News.

For 19 years the groundwork has been laid for the U.S. public to believe that Venezuela is a dictatorship. The corporate Fake News shouts the propaganda that “dictator” Maduro has destroyed his country with socialism and mismanagement. With the government opposition rioting in the streets and murdering security personnel, pro-government demonstrators and bystanders, Maduro is the one that gets accused of murdering peaceful protesters. The corporate Fake News has razed the public anxiety level so that they will consent to the U.S.’s “we-must-do-something” to restore order in Venezuela.

All the public knows is what it is told, over and over again, by the corporate Fake News. Here is Bret Baier of Fox News breathlessly reading from his teleprompter a “Special Report” on Venezuela’s fake referendum:

“A 61 year old woman was killed, 4 people wounded by gunfire at a polling site at a Caracas Church in Venezuela—more than 7 million Venezuelans over the weekend—in their referendum on their president’s plan to rewrite the constitution and consolidate dictatorial power—today opposition leaders are calling for more street protests, and a strike later this week—almost 100 people have died in demonstrations over the last 3 months—“

Baier then interviewed a glowing Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican Congresswoman from Miami Florida, who just cannot hide her exuberance over the turnout at the polls—“the people said no to Maduro and communism stuffed down their throats, and yes to democracy”, she said.

Ros-Lehtinen is a Cuban-American from Miami Florida, who is anti-Castro, and a strong supporter of Israel. Her major campaign contributor was Irving Moskowitz, a founder of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, where the body count of peaceful Palestinian protesters keep mounting up.  After a junket to Guantanamo Bay she gave a glowing endorsement for keeping  GITMO torture facility open.  Hypocrisy never shames them.

As I wrote in a previous article, the Empire and its servants are not motivated by democracy and human rights; that is a ruse.  They want the oil.

Even if all of the propaganda about Venezuela was true (which it is not) why is it the business of the U.S.? The Venezuelan’s are capable of solving their own problems. The U.S. Department of State says it is because Venezuela needs to “return to full respect for the rule of law, full respect for freedoms of political expression and participation“—

Surely, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson is not concerned for the people of Venezuela. He knows all about Venezuela, having been the Chief Executive Officer of ExxonMobil, until President Donald Trump tapped him for his cabinet.

Tillerson was with ExxonMobil for over 40 years. He has no love for Bolivarian Socialism, Chavismo, or President Nicolas Maduro. Tillerson had the unpleasant duty of watching Chavez and Maduro nationalize $10 billion worth of ExxonMobil’s operations. Tillerson is sharpening his ax to get even.

Shortly after Tillerson resigned from ExxonMobil, wouldn’t you know it, ExxonMobil hit one of the biggest offshore oil and natural gas fields in the world. It so happens that the water it is in is claimed by Venezuela. ExxonMobil says that the water belongs to Venezuela’s neighbor Guyana.

Tillerson had his ExxonMobil bags all packed and ready to go visit  Guyana’s president David Granger, when Trump called.  During his confirmation hearing he assured Congress that he would have no conflict of interests (New York Times).  As General Motors CEO said about GM, what is good for ExxonMobil is good for the U.S.A., but is it good for the people. Pssst—they don’t care about people.  U.S. foreign policy objectives are not concerned with people.  Ignore all the cheap talk about democracy and human rights.

Trump is already using the fake referendum to push Venezuela over the edge into a civil war, a coup, or even a U.S. invasion. A civil war in Venezuela would be a tragedy like Syria, where the body count is still mounting, with millions of people killed, widowed, orphaned, maimed and driven into refugee camps.

The possibility of civil war in Venezuela is real and growing every day. The country is badly divided between the wealthy haves and the millions of poor have-nots. The U.S. is egging on the conflict. Hugo Chavez brought social services, healthcare, education and housing to the poor. The U.S. Empire and ExxonMobil have declared war on democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.  He is in the Empire’s crosshairs. Trump has said that all options are on the table.  Time is short.

Trump is turning up the heat. He announced “swift and strong actions” if Venezuela proceeds with the already planned elections for a National Constituent Assembly, scheduled for a vote on July 30th. Maduro’s response to Trump is that he is being “vulgar” because “the process of the constituent assembly is already in the hands of the people who will exercise their right to vote.”

To digress, Maduro called for a Constituent Assembly to revise Venezuela’s 1999 constitution in order to deal with the current economic crisis, U.S. sanctions and the chaos in the street. Venezuela’s oil wealth provides approximately 95% of Venezuela’s revenues to pay for imports. Low oil prices are hurting every oil producer. For Venezuela it has resulted in shortages of imports, such as food, medicine, and other consumer items. The shortages have caused hyperinflation and devaluation of the currency.  Venezuela is not broke but it has very serious financial and economic problems.

Maduro’s opposition has labeled the planned Constituent Assembly a “coup” by Maduro. It was taken to Venezuela’s Supreme Court, which ruled in Maduro’s favor. Change happens and was foreseen by the 1999 constitution. A Constituent Assembly to revise the constriction is provided for in the 1999 constitution, which was democratically approved by the people.

The Supreme Court decision resulted in the disbanding of the current National Assembly until a new constitution is formed, and new elections are held. Maduro says that a revised constitution is necessary because the poor are badly under-represented in the current National Assembly.  The wealth do not agree.  Maduro’s plan is legal. It is democracy in action, and an improvement of the democratic representation of the people. The rich are revolting and waging class warfare.

After the Supreme Court ruled in Maduro’s favor, the U.S. Empire, which thinks it has the right to meddle in every democracy, reacted by imposing more economic sanctions, singling out individual Supreme Court judges. That is like Putin imposing sanctions on U.S. Supreme Court judges for the ruling on an upcoming case on partisan gerrymandering—the corporate Fake News would go nutz, and rightly so.

Economic sanctions are intended to make the economy scream, as President Richard Nixon put it when he ordered the CIA to prevent Chile’s democratically elected Salvador Allende from coming to power. The U.S. backed a coup d’etat that overthrow and assassinate Allende in one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. The U.S. backed coup was followed by a 17 year U.S. backed military dictatorship, which was a blood-soaked reign of terror, torture, murder and disappearances by Generalissimo Augusto Pinochet. In 1998 Pinochet was convicted of crimes against humanity (See Britannica.com).

A screaming economy causes the people to suffer, as they did in Iraq, which resulted in half a million babies dying. Dead babies are “worth it” according to Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as she spoke about the priority of U.S. foreign policy objectives.

The Trump reign has imposed more economic sanctions on Venezuela, he is trying to politically isolate Venezuela from other South American countries, and he is openly giving financial and political support to the disloyal opposition.

We have the 2002 smoking gun.  The Empire was caught plotting a violent coup d’etat against a democratic Venezuela. The Empire has a long record and modus operandi of covert coups, color revolutions and invasions to overthrow governments, democratically elected or not. We do not need any more smoking guns for proof.

The Trump reign and corporate Fake News are dumbing down the public. They are spreading lies and half-truths. Any inconvenient information that discredits the opposition goes unreported. For those that can see, they can see that the Empire is manufacturing consent for aggression.  Trump says all options are on the table.  That includes sending in gunboats and the Marines.

The Telegraph has the headline “US warns Venezuela that ‘no option is off the table’ if it goes ahead with the vote for the new assembly.” Trump is quoted as saying he is “very concerned about the well-being of the Venezuelan people, the incredible erosion of democracy right before our eyes.”

Maduro shot back, “The United States seems destined by providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty”. Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is also in the Empires crosshairs, said that Trump is “shameful”. Actually, Trump has no shame.

Venezuela has been caught up in violent rioting backed by the right-wing wealthy class, and they have been responsible for most of the murdered and wounded, which the corporate Fake News ignores. Instead the corporate Fake News keeps repeating the numbers of those murdered as if all the deaths have been caused by the Venezuelan security forces, which is just not true. But when does the truth get in the way of the Empire’s propaganda? Corporate Fake News is the propaganda horn that makes sure that inconvenient truths do not get in the way of Empire Wars.

Time is short.

 

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CounterPunch Magazine


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