Washington’s Exhausted Policy Against Venezuela
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
“For those who have followed Venezuela closely in recent years, there is an inevitable sense of déjà vu in U.S. foreign policy toward the South American nation, because Washington’s strategy of regime change there is almost identical to the one it has adopted in Latin America on numerous occasions since World War II. It is a strategy that includes the application of economic sanctions, broad support for the opposition, and destabilizing measures to create a degree of human consternation and chaos that justifies a military coup or direct U.S. military intervention.
That is the introduction that Canadian writer and researcher GaryLeech makes to the readers of his most recent essay entitled “Business as Usual: Washington’s Regime Change Strategy in Venezuela” (GreanvillePost, 23/11/2018).
“Because of how well the strategy has worked for the United States for more than half a century, our elected leaders see no reason not to use it with respect to Venezuela. In other words, from Washington’s perspective, their policies of regime change toward Venezuela constitute the coda of a business that is already customary in Latin America,” Leech says.
This strategy of regime change does not take into account whether it is a democratically-elected government or the human rights consequences of such interventions. Virtually all the Latin American governments that the United States has successfully overthrown in the last 65 years had been democratically elected.
Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti (2004) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009) have been democratically elected leaders who have been ousted by coups d’état using such methods. Washington pressured all these leaders with economic sanctions and destabilization campaigns that created the economic chaos and humanitarian crises necessary to justify a military solution in their nations.
The common denominator in all these cases has nothing to do with democracy or human rights, but with the fact that the scaled-down governments prioritized the interests of their own people over U.S. provisions.
This was demonstrated by the attitude of CIA director George Tenet during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in February 2002, when he declared that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “probably does not have the interests of the United States in mind” and two months later, Washington promoted a military coup that attempts to overthrow the Venezuelan leader.
That was the first of many failed U.S. attempts to overthrow Chavez after his electoral victory in 1998. After that failure, Washington multiplied its efforts to install a government in Caracas with its heart set on the interests of the United States.
It increased support for opposition groups by increasing funds for USAID programs dedicated to the goal of turning the population against the government. Wikileaks published a classified headline sent from the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela to Washington in 2006 that clearly stated that USAID funding for local programs sought to influence community leaders by slowly moving them away from “chavismo” and stated that the embassy’s broader goal should be to “isolate Chávez internationally.”
In 2015, President Obama signed a presidential order designating Venezuela as an “extraordinary threat to national security” and explained that U.S. law requires his administration impose sanctions on detractors of his country. On that basis, two years later, Trump declared that he would not rule out a “military option” against Venezuela.
The major U.S. media have played their propaganda role with a narrative aimed at demonizing a Venezuelan government and calling Chávez and Maduro authoritarian, anti-democratic and even dictatorial. They have also focused their attention on food shortages and an alleged humanitarian crisis that would lead Venezuelans to ignore the extraordinary social advances made in education, housing, poverty reduction, participatory democracy, and to abandon their homeland.
In foreign policy, it reproduces measures successfully implemented in past decades that overthrew governments that did not have “U.S. interests at heart.
The strategy of undermining democracy and imposing economic difficulties to achieve regime change worked in several Latin American countries, but this time, with the Venezuelan people, Washington might have run into the last of their shoes.
November 29, 2018.
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