US Hypocrisy and the Maduro Catch 22
I don’t where to begin as there are so many key points to address on the subject of Venezuela, but in the end the Venezuelans lose, as is usually the case when western powers have an interest in your resources. They have an incompetent elected president in Nickolas Muduro whose government held elections ahead of schedule presumably at a time that would be most advantageous for his reelection. Despite his incompetence, he represents the interest of the Venezuelan people, even if he lacks the ability to do it effectively.
On the other side they Juan Guaido, who represents not only the interest of wealth and the upper classes in Venezuela, but also the interest of the United States and Western Europe who are salivating at the prospect of Venezuelan oil and a desperate labor market ripe for exploitation by foreign investment.
As I have explained simplistically on so many other occasions, both in writing and conversation, the motivation of US foreign policy is to ensure market access for the exploitation of labor and resources. Other goals related to the primary goal is securing geo strategic footholds to apply pressure, and removing potential obstacles. Which is to say in some countries there may not be a direct interest in the market, but that country may be an obstacle to securing market access in other areas.
If Juan Guaido was elected having changed the date of the elections, but had presumably been friendly to US interests, there would be no sanctions, no calling for the end of a dictatorship that is not a dictatorship, no calling for the president of the national assembly to head a transitional government while elections are held, no denial of access to assets held abroad, no one sided coverage of protests, and no recognition by Europe or the United States as the legitimate leader of the country. Instead you would hear commentary in the news if you that an election took place and this is who the people of Venezuela have chosen, if you heard anything at all.
There was no call for the Somoza dictatorship to end in Nicaragua because the Somoza dictatorship served US interests, and received US support. When the people of Nicaragua finally overthrew the dictatorship, the United States funded, trained, and supported unsuccessful counter revolutionaries in an effort to preserve US interests in Nicaragua. (1) The newly appointed special envoy to Venezuela Elliot Abrams had a direct hand in that support, as well as other terror perpetrated with the support of the United States. Most notably Abrams effort to conceal a massacre in El Salvador, in the village of El Mozote, where 800 to 1200 people were massacred by US trained forces, just one of many incidents supported and aided by the US to secure interests in El Salvador. (2)
There was no call for an end to the Francois Duvaler dictatorship in Hati. (3)
There was no call for elections or an end to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, a coup facilitated and supported by the United States. (4)
There was no call for an end to the US supported military junta in Argentina. (5)
There was no call for an end to the US supported Batista dictatorship in Cuba. (6)
We could continue with historical examples, but there are recent points that parallel more closely and highlight US hypocrisy.
There is no calling of Juan Orlando Hernandez a dictator in Honduras, even as the Organization of American States who sent election observers said it was illegitimate, and called for new elections. There is no human rights rebuke over those who have been arrested or killed protesting the results. Not to mention, Hernandez came to power through the removal of the democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya in 2009, and remains in power through a rigged election held in 2017 and support by the United States.(7) The difference of course is Hernandez represents the United States in Honduras, and Maduro does not represent the United States in Venezuela. Hernandez is not called a dictator, there is no outrage by US officials calling for new elections, and no call for Hernandez to resign.
The US had no issue with Carlos Salinas who came to power through a rigged election in Mexico, in 1988, where the ballots were burned after the election to conceal the fraud. Salinas went on to do the bidding of the US by including Mexico in GATT, NAFTA, amending the constitution which forced poor Mexican farmers to sell land by ending development loans from the government, agreeing to structural adjustment programs for loans from the IMF, among other policies that served the interests of the US and the industries that direct it, but harmed the interests of the Mexican people.(8) There was no call for a new election, no sanctions, and no recognition of interim leader to establish a transitional government while elections take place.
All this is to say the US acts on its industrial financial interests, not on any principled or moral grounds as it peddles to the mind controlled masses who consume its information.
John Bolten, the newly Trump appointed National Security Advisor has expressed in no uncertain terms US interest in Venezuela by stating the obvious. Bolten told Fox Business News “We’re in conversation now with major American companies that are either in Venezuela, or in the case of Citgo, here in the United States. You know, Venezuela is one of the three countries I call the troika of tyranny. It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities of Venezuela”. (9)
Meanwhile, Venezuela finds itself very limited in its capacity sell oil under the sanctions, which basically prevent buyers from purchasing the oil for fear they will either be penalized by the US, or unable to do business with US companies for violating the sanctions. In addition to the sanctions which are deepening the economic crisis which was already amplified by sanctions that began under the Obama administration, Venezuela is prevented from accessing assets held abroad.
What does Maduro do? If he resigns he is handing the future of Venezuela over to the United States and the wealthy state elite. It will return to what it was before Chavez, great inequality, high infant mortality rate, high extreme poverty, high poverty, and a lack of opportunities for the poor. Under Chavez all these social indicators were reduced, including massive gains in GDP and underclass opportunity for education and jobs. (10) Since the death of Chavez, aided by sanctions, the conditions have reverted to something akin to what existed prior to Chavez in regard to the quality of life, although differently.
If Maduro resigns the people of Venezuela suffer at the hands of regime that will carry forward US interest. If Maduro stays, the people of Venezuela suffer at his tied hands. There is nothing he can do with the sanctions in place to improve the quality of life for Venezuelans. Without the ability to sell oil for the importation of needed goods and without access to assets held abroad the noose tightens around the neck of the Venezuelan economy.
The best hope for improving the quality of life for the Venezuelan people would be for Maduro to negotiate for an end to the sanctions in exchange for new elections which Maduro does not participate in. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration is not going to negotiate, nor would they agree to negotiate simply for the prospect of improving the lives of the Venezuelan people. The United States has Venezuela exactly where they want it and they are about to get everything. (I was looking for a way out of writing the last pair of sentences in this article with this paragraph)
Again, if Maduro resigns he is handing the government over to the interests United States and he is not going to do that. Yet, what he may be overlooking, is while Chavez is a once in history level figure, possessed of pure intent, extraordinary intelligence, and irresistible charisma to all but his adversaries, it was the people of Venezuela who created the Bolivarian revolution and Chavez was only the catalyst. As much I don’t like it, because I know what it means in the short term, Maduro has to trust that the people of Venezuela, while Chavez still lives in their hearts and minds, are capable of restoring the revolution after he allows this coup to succeed. The same way they restored Chavez after the US supported coup in 2002, which allowed him to empower them for the gains they had under his leadership.
Maduro should capitulate to the insurmountable pressure and resign for the good of the Venezuelan people. It pains me profoundly to write that statement. This position is probably not popular among people who recognize the fact that Maduros resignation essentially amounts to returning Venezuela to US control.
Prior to the sanctions, in 2017, Maduro signed the national budget which was 8 trillion bolivars, roughly 8 billion dollars. (11) Venezuela is a country of 32 million people. To put that into persepective, Chicago is a city, not a country, of 2.7 million people with an annual budget of 8.6 billion dollars. You cannot run a country of 32 million people on 8 billion dollars a year, and this was 8 billion dollars two years ago prior to the economic siege imposed by the United States where the country is greatly limited in its ability to access the global market.
The harsh fact is the people of Venzuela cannot benefit, their situation cannot improve under these circumstances. The only improvement will come through allow the coup to suceed and then democratically restoring the revolution under competent leadership. As insurance, Maduro can arm the Chavista prior to his resignation which will A: put pressure on the new regime to implement policy geared towards improving the quality of life for the impoverished masses, B: prevent repression, and C: provide the poor the means for insurrection in the event that democratic restoration of national interests becomes impossible.
1: Houston Chronicle. “Nicaragua and the US.: A Long Relationship.” August 17, 2006. https://www.chron.com/news/article/Nicaragua-and-the-U-S-A-long-relationship-1500155.php
2: The Nation. “Elliot Abrams: It’s Back”. June 14th 2001 by David Corn. https://www.thenation.com/article/elliott-abrams-its-back/
3: Origins vol.4, Issue 5, February 2011. “A Pact with the Devil? The United States and the Fate of Modern Haiti.” By Leslie Alexander. http://origins.osu.edu/article/pact-devil-united-states-and-fate-modern-haiti/page/0/1
4: Democracy Now September 10th 2013, ““Make the economy scream” secret documents show Nixon, Kissinger role backing 1973 Chile coup.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2Ki6nWSeVQ
5: TRT World, “Declassified Doccuments Reveal US Role in Argentina’s Dirty War”. February 3rd 2017, by Ramona Wadi. https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/declassified-documents-reveal-us-collaboration-in-argentinas-dirty-w-289517
6: Global Research. Cuba pre-1959: The Rise and Fall of a US Backed Dictator with Links to the Mob. July 26th 2015, by Timothy Alexander Guzman. https://www.globalresearch.ca/cuba-pre-1959-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-u-s-backed-dictator-with-links-to-the-mob/5464738
7: Jacobin “Dirty Elections in Honduras with Washington’s Blessing.” By Alexander Main. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/01/honduras-election-jaun-orlando-hernandez-nasralla
8: “Structural Adjustment in Mexico and the Dog that Didn’t Bark” 1997, Judith Adler Hellman, pp 3-6)
9: Democracy Now “What’s Next for Venezuela as US and Opposition Reject Negotiations Aimed to End the Crisis Peacefully”? February 5th 2019. https://www.democracynow.org/2019/2/5/whats_next_for_venezuela_as_us#transcript
10: The following are excerpts of what Chavez accomplished in the first 10 years of his presidency.
The current economic expansion began when the government gained control over the national oil company in the first quarter of 2003. For the next 10 years, real (inflation-adjusted) GDP nearly doubled, growing by 94.7 percent in 5.25 years, or 13.5 percent annually.
Most of that growth has been in the non-oil sector of the economy, and the private sector has grown faster than the public sector.
During the current economic expansion, the poverty rate has been cut by more than half, from 54 percent of households in the first half of 2003 to 26 percent at the end of 2008. Extreme poverty has fallen even more, by 72 percent. These poverty rates measure only cash income, and do not take into account increased access to health care or education.
Over the entire decade, the percentage of households in poverty has been reduced by 39 percent, and extreme poverty by more than half.
Inequality, as measured by the Gini index, has also fallen substantially. The index has fallen to 41 in 2008, from 48.1 in 2003 and 47 in 1999. This represents a large reduction in inequality.
Real (inflation-adjusted) social spending per person more than tripled from 1998-2006.
From 1998-2006, infant mortality has fallen by more than one-third. The number of primary care physicians in the public sector increased 12-fold from 1999-2007, providing health care to millions of Venezuelans who previously did not have access.
There have been substantial gains in education, especially higher education, where gross enrollment rates more than doubled from 1999-2000 to 2007-2008.
The labor market also improved substantially over the last decade, with unemployment dropping from 11.3 percent to 7.8 percent. During the current expansion it has fallen by more than half. Other labor market indicators also show substantial gains.
Over the past decade, the number of social security beneficiaries has more than doubled.
Over the decade, the government’s total public debt has fallen from 30.7 to 14.3 percent of GDP. The foreign public debt has fallen even more, from 25.6 to 9.8 percent of GDP.
Inflation is about where it was 10 years ago, ending the year at 31.4 percent. However it has been falling over the last half year (as measured by three-month averages) and is likely to continue declining this year in the face of strong deflationary pressures worldwide.
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research, The Chavez Administration at 10 Years: The Economy and Social Indicators. By Mark Weisbrot, Rebecca Ray and Luis Sandoval, February 2009. Pg 3 http://cepr.net/documents/publications/venezuela-2009-02.pdf
11: Reuters “Venezuela’s Maduro Signs 2017 Budget, Bypassed Congress Cries Foul”. By Eyanir Chinea, and Alexandra Ulmer. 10-14-2016 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-budget-idUSKBN12E2G6