Skeptical about the stories from Venezuela

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

I wrote the above several days ago, but held off on publication to avoid jumping the gun. A few days later, I still agree with my my initial reaction. I’ve added a few footnotes here and there.

When you’re as old as I am, have paid attention long enough and have read enough history, you’re morally required to be skeptical about the stories we hear about Venezuela.

But people are suffering! We have to do something to help them! Their government is killing them—whether through ineptitude or evil is neither here nor there.[1]

It’s not even their government! Those elections were a fraud![2]

We must do something!

Almost nothing good ever came from that argument.

Why so skeptical?

Because how do you know they’re suffering to the degree that you think they are? From which media are you getting this news? From your beloved CNN? From the Swiss News, which also outsources its news-gathering to organizations like Reuters and the Washington Post (i.e. Amazon/Bezos) and then translates it?

Or perhaps from the horse’s mouth—the Venezuelan press? Can they be trusted? Who finances them? The CIA? Quite possibly and not unrealistically. But even if not, the media belong to the elite in Venezuela who have always hated Maduro and his predecessor, Chavez.

Maduro is not the monster they say he is. He’s not Pol Pot deliberately eliminating people. At worst, he’s mismanaged an economic downturn that none of us can even imagine—export volume has dropped by 50% inside of a decade.

This is economic devastation, but Maduro is considered “inept” because people in his country are suffering. In fairness, nearly no government would be capable of dealing with this kind of event without suffering—especially with the U.S. deliberately making things worse to increase pressure without concern for Venezuelans. U.S. sanctions and oil-price speculation has a lot more to do with the suffering in Venezuela.

But we can ignore that, too.

We can just think back to other situations where the world was going to end and we just had to do something.

Iran was about to get the nuclear bomb. Iraq was about to destroy the U.S. with its WMD. Libya almost invaded Spain. Russia is almost in Paris. The people in Syria are suffering. Ukraine needs our help. Vietnam is a domino falling to communism. As is Laos, and Cambodia. Thailand needs a little bombing, too. Korea already knows not to open its mouth. Japan and Germany are still occupied. As are 100 other countries that “host” American bases.

Nearly every country in South and Central America has already had to be saved from its foolish love affair with social programs with incursions: Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the list goes on—all had to be saved from their own stupid meddling with socialism or communism. Cuba! The lone survivor, with a Bay of Pigs, a failed invasion and innumerable assassination attempts on its history books.

Assassinating or ousting democratically elected, socialist leaders is a specialty of the U.S. There was Mossadegh in Iran, Allende in Chile, Lumumba in Congo and many, many more (WikiSpooks). Others were ousted without being killed, like Ortega from Nicaragua or Maduro’s own predecessor, Hugo Chavez. The list of Foreign interventions by the United States (Wikipedia) is long. For a more comprehensive list, read Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II by William Blum.[3]

But, sure, I bet it’s different this time. I bet the story in Venezuela is exactly as it’s made to seem by the world media. Socialism and corruption working hand-in-hand to starve the poor. Chavez’s advancements never happened. The agitation on the streets is not the middle and upper classes, but the poor demanding…illiteracy? Less food?

We hear the same thing again and again about official enemies. We hear again and again about a paucity of democracy. But then we support, again and again, coups in those countries when a more pliable candidate rears his head. The West does not care about democracy, other than as a talking point.

Strangely enough, we don’t hear that we must do something in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Israel/Palestine. Those countries are allowed to continue ruling themselves—the logic that we must step in to help their people somehow doesn’t apply there. Is it perhaps because their leaders are already in our iron grip?

But the U.S. is largely responsible for the suffering of those people. It applies devastating sanctions on a country, then blame its leaders for not being able to feed their people.

The U.S. does this with regularity. It fills Iraq with depleted uranium, blocks all medical devices from that country, then shakes its head at how those poor, backward people can’t even help themselves.

But back to Venezuela. I hear: why are the Chinese there or the Russians? Is it possible that they’re trying to help, within the confines of international law? Is it possible that they are actually on the right side of history? You know, allowing a country to be sovereign, with its own elected leaders being allowed to work on their country’s problems?

Why are we asked to believe that a coup is the only way forward? It’s said that the U.N. thinks that the Venezuelan elections were not above-board—but the solution to an undemocratic election is … a putsch? And the only guy who can be trusted is an unelected guy, trained at the IMF and in U.S. universities, who didn’t get a single vote? He declared himself president and we’re all just OK with that?

Whereas some nations immediately threw their support behind the U.S.—Canada, Britain among the usual suspects—others, like France and Germany, demanded elections within 8 days. 8 days! So Europe thinks the elections were unfair, but also thinks that the way to have fair elections is to unconstitutionally demand new ones, all planned in just over a week.

What spectacular bullshit. Repeat after me: the West doesn’t care about democracy at all, especially as compared to promoting its own interests.

Those interests? They are, in a nutshell: colonialism. resource-domination and empire. Let’s call it economic colonialism, defined by a desire to steal things rather than pay for them in order to enrich one’s own elites.[4]

The U.S. loves to exert influence to create or exacerbate a situation that only it can solve. It engenders fear in Europeans nations in order to increase its military influence—witness the dozen new members of NATO.

Watching how quickly key European allies have fallen in line with the U.S. by recognizing the new “president” of Venezuela, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first official NATO incursion into South America.

We’re still listening to these criminals—Netanyahu has the world’s ear and suffers little to no official recrimination, to say nothing of action against him. Why don’t we replace the leader of Israel for causing such suffering among his citizens in Palestine?

And the U.S.: it doesn’t seem to matter which criminal heads that nation, the behavior is consistently evil.[5] Far from listening to anything any one of them has to say, we should we working to end them—consign their evildoing to the pages of history.

It’s a farce. It always is. There is only naked greed and national interest at work. To even engage their arguments is to concede that the playing field is at-all even. It’s like arguing whether the charges of “Jewiness” against a Jewish family in 1939 Germany were “legitimate”.

This is not to say that the Venezuelans are not responsible for themselves—but we cannot ignore the outside influences. Communism in Vietnam didn’t fail “on its own”.

I’d be delighted to discover that the current and forthcoming, intensified international interventions will bring a better world for all Venezuelans. It would be a first, though. Venezuela is likely to join Libya, Iraq and others as quasi-states with most of its citizens much worse off than they were before.

Meanwhile, Stephen Pinker and Bill Gates will continue to entertain us with tales of how, on average, we’re all much better and much better off than we used to be. They even have charts to prove it, so you know it must be true.

I spent years believing that, if so many parties seem to agree on something, then there must be some truth to it. I’ve been disappointed enough. I mistrust because I’ve been taught to do so by history.

The U.S. is almost never to be trusted. Do you know how you can tell when the U.S. is lying? It’s lips are moving.

Nowadays, I’d rather be wrong than complicit.[6]

[1] As I wrote in SOTU 2019: President Camacho holds forth, Venezuela is the recipient of crippling U.S. sanctions. The U.S. cripples the economy of a country until everyone suffers—then points out that their government has failed them. The next step is to suggest that the U.S. might be better at running that country and then the CIA installs its own puppet to run the place, in U.S. interests. After that, the suffering of the people continues, but is no longer a concern.
[2] Venezuela is considered to have some of the fairest elections in the world. The UN did not declare the elections of last May unfair. The Carter Center declared them some of the best and fairest elections ever. Just because the opposition parties refused to take part doesn’t mean that the elections were unfair.
[3] Blum died at the end of 2018 at the age of 85. He was a legendary historian and unrelenting critic of empire. I’d read his monthly Anti-Empire Report, issued right up until September 2018. May he rest in peace. He earned it.

The article Avoiding Regime Change in Venezuela: Palast on The Scott Horton Show by Greg Palast includes a 30-minute interview, with Palast concluding with the question:

“Are we liberating Venezuela? Or are we liberating Venezuela’s Oil?”

The following 10-minute video is an excellent overview of the situation in Venezuela.

The Yankee Plot to Overthrow Nicolás Maduro and Steal Venezuela’s Oil by The Intercept (YouTube)

Of particular interest is the quote by National Security Advisor John Bolton,

“Venezuela is one of the three countries I call the “Troika of Tyranny”. It’ll 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.”
[5] It was Obama and Hillary who immediately recognized and supported the right-wing coup in Honduras in 2009. The same administration worked hard to torpedo first Lula, then Dilma Rousseff in Brazil—actions that led to right-wing demagogue Bolsonaro taking power there.
[6] Unfortunately for Venezuela, it doesn’t look like I’ll be proven wrong this time, either.