Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro’s future as the country’s leader. Maduro started a second term on January 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognize.
On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president. Shortly after he took the oath of Office, swearing himself in as head of State. US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country’s leader. In response, Maduro broke off diplomatic ties with the United States and gave US diplomats in the country 72 hours to leave. Maduro also accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.
The US-sponsored coup in Venezuela still ongoing as I write, is the latest chapter in the long and bloody history of US imperialism in Latin America. This fact is understood by most critics across the political spectrum including even the chattering liberal class, who acknowledge this truth only with the passage of time. This reality must underpin any analysis of the situation in Venezuela today. The country is being targeted by the Yankee Empire.
This point is, or at least should be, indisputable irrespective of one’s opinions of Venezuelan President Maduro, the Socialist Party (PSUV), or the progress of the Bolivarian Revolution. Imperialism, and its neocolonial manifestation in the 21st century, is there to pick clean the bones of the Bolivarian dream and return Venezuela to the role of subservient asset, an oil-soaked proxy state ruled by a right-wing satrap eager to please the colonial lords of capital.
This is the same trap that many African countries find themselves in, whether knowingly or unknowingly with regards to tricks played by the Yankee Empire. In other words, what is going on in Venezuela now, has been going on in Africa since the end of colonialism. Neocolonialism in Africa started immediately thereafter and the continent has been grappling with this interference ever since.
One could be forgiven for immediately assuming that the blatantly illegal coup, and its near instantaneous recognition by the Trump Administration (among others), is proof positive that the US has instigated the overthrow of the Bolivarian Revolution in a nakedly aggressive action to steal oil resources. Indeed, this would be a near textbook example of the sort of colonial policies visited upon the peoples of the Global South since the dawn of the colonial age.
The strategy that the Yankee Empire has deployed in Venezuela is the same that was used in Zimbabwe at the height of the land reform. Former US Assistance Secretary of State Mr Chester Crooker said to the US Congress in June 2001 that: “To separate the Zimbabwean people from ZANU-PF, we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope you Senators have the stomach for what you have to do”.
At that time the opposition MDC party had deployed its foot soldiers to Washington to lobby the US Congress to impose sanctions on the country. The outcome of that development is now history. Zimbabwe’s economy has been completely decimated but the strange thing is that, the “Juan Guaidos” of the opposition MDC-Alliance party, still deny the existence of sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy. Instead, it takes outsiders in SADC and elsewhere to call for the lifting of those sanctions. Zimbabweans will never forgive the MDC-Alliance on this issue. It shall continue to suffer at the free and fair polls similar to the fate of RENAMO for their brutalization of the civilian population in Mozambique.
The Venezuelan currency, the Bolivarian, has been under attack from US sanctions for a couple of years now and yet Mr. Juan Guaido refuses to acknowledge its devastating effects on the economy. Instead he blames it all on the government of Venezuela. We hope that Juan Guaido will learn from the mistakes of the Zimbabwean opposition MDC-Alliance party. Chester Crocker’s prediction of separating ZANU-PF from the Zimbabwean came to naught.
And there is no doubt some truth to the conclusion. As Democratic Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard noted on Twitter, “It’s about oil…again,” referencing the parallel to the Bush Administration’s crime against humanity known as the Iraq War which was, in no small way contributing to enriching Dick Cheney’s Halliburton and the US oil industry in general.
And Gabbard is correct to highlight statements by Trump’s National Security Warlord, John Bolton, whose every word oozes the sociopathy we’ve come to expect from this most hawkish of neocons. Bolton stated in a press conference: “We’re in conversation with major American companies now…it would make a difference if we could have American companies produce the oil in Venezuela. We both have a lot at stake here.”
Leaving aside the likely deliberate ambiguity of these statements, what are these “conversations” that Mr. Bolton is talking about? Does this mean there was no production plan before the coup was initiated? etc., it seems obvious that oil is a major motivating factor.
Dr Mustafa Bothwell Mheta has a PhD in Semitic Languages and Cultures from the University of Johannesburg, Department of Religion Studies. He is also a Researcher at the Media Review Network.