Election Interference Before Military Intervention? Hands Off Venezuela

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

When it comes to interfering in other countries’ election, no nation is better at it than the United States. No nation interferes more and no nation does so more blatantly. The recent machinations in Venezuela that recognized Juan Guiado as the President of that country are just the latest proof. In case you missed the news, Juan Guiado, who was recently elected to head Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself president of Venezuela on Wednesday, January 23, 2019. His announcement was met immediately with support from the right wing regimes in Brazil, Colombia and the United States. A few other nations—Canada and Costa Rica among them—joined the US and the others. It seems safe to assume that Guiado did not make his announcement until he knew he had the support of the United States. Of course, it’s not like there was much of a chance that Washington would not provide such support, given that its agencies have been trying to remove the Bolivarian government from power since it was first elected to power in 1999.

Guiado is a member of the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party. This party’s politics are considered right of center, yet in a manner quite descriptive of the current state of the Socialist International, it is a member of that group. Voluntad Popular favors neoliberal capitalism (euphemistically known as supporting the free market) over any form of socialism. Along with a broader coalition with most members further to their right, it has been part of the protests against the Bolivarian government. These protests are supported by US intelligence and propaganda agencies. They have supported the sanctions on the Venezuelan economy; sanctions which have driven millions of Venezuelans into deep poverty. Based on the history of sanctions, one assumes that this is the intention of the sanctions in the hope that the Venezuelans most affected by the sanctions (who are also the Bolivarian government’s strongest supporters) will turn against the government.

Why does Washington care so much about what happens in Venezuela? Like Washington’s never-ending intervention in the Middle East, it seems fair to say the reason is oil. Venezuelan oil reserves are the largest in the world. This oil wealth has always been why Washington is interested in Venezuela. If the United States had its way, the national oil company of Venezuela would be taken over by US-based corporations and the bulk of the profits would go to US banks. However, this is an unlikely scenario. Until recently, a few different companies refined Venezuelan heavy crude in their refineries along the US gulf coast. After Washington tightened sanctions, most of those companies either halted refining Venezuelan oil or moved their refining operations outside the United States. If Trump’s government tightens sanctions even further, ending any oil imports from Venezuela, the economic effects would not just be felt in Venezuela. In fact, according to Bloomberg News, oil prices had already risen the day after Guiado’s assumption of the Venezuelan presidency. No matter what speculations one manufactures, the fact is that Washington’s primary interest in Venezuela is its oil and, as the world has seen too often and too recently, Washington is willing to kill for oil.

This brings us to the crucial reality. Any further intervention in Venezuela must be opposed. A likely scenario, should the Pentagon and politicians decide to use military force to oust Maduro and his government, would be one where the militaries of Brazil and Colombia invaded Venezuela after civil unrest (fomented by Washington as it was in Chile) to “restore stability.” Russia has already put Washington on notice should any military moves against Venezuela be made. Furthermore, it recently moved some of its forces into the country to emphasize its support. Very few elected representatives in the United States will oppose anything Trump does to Venezuela. They have bought the line that the Bolivarian revolution is a mortal enemy. Any opposition must begin with the grassroots and in the streets. It’s way past time to revitalize the long dormant antiwar movement in the United States.

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

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