by Arnold August
President Obama has intervened directly and personally to foment violence against the democratically elected government of Venezuela. “Obama encouraged Washington’s allies in Venezuela to restart their violent activities in Venezuela and create a climate of chaos.”
Obama’s Arrogant Interference in Venezuela and Resistance by a Participatory Democracy
by Arnold August
This article was previously published in DemocracyCuba.com
“The ‘legitimate grievances’ of the Venezuelan people were addressed by the Bolivarian Revolution in numerous ballot box contests since December, 1998.”
On February 19, 2014, at a press conference by President Obama, Mexican President Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Harper, in Toluca, Mexico, Obama stated:
“In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people. So, along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protestors that it’s detained and engage in real dialogue. And all parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.”
How can Obama say that the accusations against U.S. diplomats for interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela are false? The above three-sentence statement exclusively on Venezuela uttered by the U.S. president consists in itself as an arrogant attempt to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs. The “legitimate grievances” of the Venezuelan people were addressed by the Bolivarian Revolution in numerous ballot box contests since December, 1998. These electoral gains precisely target the U.S.-dominated economic and political system existing from 1958 to 1998. The voting includes the April 14, 2013 presidential election won by Nicolás Maduro and which the U.S. refuses to recognize. By negating the results recognized by the whole continent, Obama had planted the seeds of the current violence carried out by the pro-U.S. elements in the country. The candidates of the Bolivarian Revolution’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela. (PSUV) also won the majority of municipalities, mayoralties and the popular vote in the December 8, 2013 municipal elections.
Furthermore, who is Obama to declare that the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) is the reference point for Venezuela, while the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is not considered? The latter excludes two of the three countries represented at the above-cited press conference in Mexico, that is Canada and the U.S. This is so precisely because of their historical role in the south as gendarmes and plunderers of natural resources. Moreover, by what right does the U.S. define the vandals and their leader Leopoldo López as “protesters” and representatives of the “Venezuelan people,” as if they have no history of U.S.-driven violent coup attempts against the Hugo Chávez and then the Maduro legitimate governments? Does Venezuela not have the right to arrest and put on trial individuals who have been responsible for the violence? Obama urges “all parties” to “restrain violence.” He thus places the perpetrators of violence on the same footing as those who are trying to calm the situation, restore order and protect public and private property from the vandals. Furthermore, by calling for “real dialogue” he thus condemns the government for failing to consider grievances while painting a picture of the “protesters” as innocent victims of the Maduro government.
By negating the results recognized by the whole continent, Obama had planted the seeds of the current violence carried out by the pro-U.S. elements in the country.”
However, despite the provocations, Maduro was and is calling for dialogue with the opponents.
This “opposition promotion” is part of the U.S. plan to create a pretext for a coup d’état in that oil-rich country. The role of the media in turning truth on its head and thus invent excuses for intervention in Venezuelan is pointed out in a timely article by Professor Steve Ellner (who since 1977 has taught at the Universidad de Oriente in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela). Despite the combined forces of the oligarchy’s international and local Venezuelan media, as well as the U.S.-financed and inspired democracy promotion groups, the first battle was won by Venezuela’s participatory democracy. On February 18 the Bolivarian Revolution, let by its government and Nicolás Maduro, displayed a show of force. A massive demonstration was held by mainly oil-industry workers in Caracas. This sector has been the source of forces to overthrow the legitimate constitutional regime and open up a path for the re-colonization of Venezuela. This demonstration temporarily put the pro-U.S. forces in Venezuela on the defensive. It is only when the people are empowered and are effectively part of political power could this victory have taken place. These successful inroads into the pro-U.S. imperialist camp can come about because of Venezuela’s new experiments in participatory democracy under way since Hugo Chávez won the election in December 1998. Thus, on February 19, the day after the “Chavista” counter-offensive, the situation was relatively calm.
However, to counter the February 18th victory and the ensuing relative order prevailing on April 19, it was no accident that Obama came to the rescue. The above quoted February 19, 7:25 PM Obama statement encouraged Washington’s allies in Venezuela to restart their violent activities in Venezuela and create a climate of chaos. Thus, the next day, on February 20, violent incidents erupted once again, inflamed by Washington’s support, in various parts of Venezuela. On-the-spot reporting by Venezuelanalysis testifies to the nature of the violent opposition protests and the growing desire at the grass roots to take the streets back from the proponents of violent regime change.
“This ‘opposition promotion’ is part of the U.S. plan to create a pretext for a coup d’état in that oil-rich country.”
Thus Obama’s statement in Mexico on February 19 confirms what I wrote on February 17, 2014: Washington and the Obama administration are directly responsible for encouraging the fascist groups and opposition leaders in Venezuela.
The international media including the liberal CNN played their usual role. However, it is very refreshing to hear Maduro telling the CNN that if it does not cease its “war propaganda”, it “will have to leave Venezuela.”
The U.S. and their Venezuelan media allies are blaming the Venezuelan government for the violence in that country, while it is supposedly the “pro-democracy” groups that are causing it. The U.S. expansionist goals toward Latin America and the Caribbean go all the way back to 1778 during the War of Independence. U.S. mainstream political parties, now known as Republicans and Democrats, have always been involved in direct and indirect military intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact the Democrats actually scored better than their Republican with more – not less – military interventions.
In order to increase the U.S. policy of domination over the southern part of the hemisphere, much of which has been in revolt against U.S. control, a new face was needed for U.S. ambitions; this new image was necessary in order to close the international and domestic credibility gap created by the Bush years. This is the role of Obama; his image of “change” was, and is, consciously promoted by Obama himself and the Chicago marketing specialists.
Obama’s arrogant interference in Venezuela constitutes the latest example from among the long list of U.S. presidents who adopt and actively sponsor the original seventeenth century evangelical notion: the U.S is a chosen people, the beacon on the hill for the world to look toward for salvation. Herein lays the pompous nature of Obama which can only be smashed in Venezuela through the channels of participatory democracy fashioned by the Bolivarian Revolution. One must also add that the solidarity of other countries and peoples especially in Latin American and the Caribbean, but also the world, is a key ingredient.
Venezuelan government has nothing to gain by the violence.”
Where heads of state, nations, academics and social activists stand on Venezuela is the litmus test of being progressive. Some academics and their associations in the U.S. and elsewhere are starting to stir. Among the academic circles, Ellner points out that “political scientist and Venezuelan specialist David Smilde of the University of Georgia, who is not pro-Chavista but rather even-handed in his analyses, has stated that the Venezuelan government has nothing to gain by the violence.” It is desirable that other academics and intellectuals do not follow into the Obama trap of “opposing violence” by “all parties.” It is preferable that these circles take a stand against the amply-documented media war (to which all academic circles have easy access) and U.S. intrusion. Tipping the balance in favor of allowing the Maduro government to settle the issues, without outside interference by the Obama administration, will help restore order and respect for constitutional legality in Venezuela.
Arnold August is a Montreal-based author/journalist/lecturer and Cuba specialist. His first book was Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (English, 1999). His 2013 book is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (English, Spanish, French). He can be reached at: [email protected].