US military intervention in Venezuela is still very much on the cards following this week’s failed coup attempt, writes KEN LIVINGSTONE.
Tuesday this week saw a failed right-wing coup attempt in Venezuela, which was heavily backed by the Trump administration and its allies, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who tweeted 30 messages expressing his desire to see Venezuela’s elected president deposed.
International law seems to matter very little indeed to the US government as it yet again publicly expressed support for a coup attempt against the constitutional government of Venezuela.
While at the time of writing the imminent threat of a coup appears to have receded, we must be aware of the possibility that anti-democratic, right-wing elements of Venezuela’s opposition may try again to provoke a coup in the next period.
Meanwhile, although it receives little “mainstream” media coverage, the threat of US military intervention in Venezuela is still looming large and perhaps more likely if the coup approach to “regime change” keeps being unsuccessful.
Indeed, the head of US Southern Command Admiral Craig Faller confirmed in a recent interview that the US military is actively considering a range of options, ready — “on the balls of our feet” — for whatever decision President Trump might make in terms of military action against Venezuela.
In the interview, Faller compared Venezuela to Syria, saying that “the crisis in Venezuela could approach that degree by the end of this year if Maduro still remains in power.”
Meanwhile, the US is continuing its drive to shore up its support in the region, in the event of launching a military attack.
With Colombia already a Nato “global partner” since 2018 and Brazil on board with Jair Bolsonaro’s election, Faller made an official visit to Ecuador in late April to strengthen bilateral military co-operation.
Behind the scenes, there have been secret discussions at a private roundtable hosted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, based in Washington DC, to consider the military options against Venezuela.
Among the 40 invitees to the off-the-record meeting called “Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela” were current and former State Department, National Intelligence Council and National Security Council officials, along with Admiral Kurt Tidd, until recently the commander of US Southern Command.
Also participating in the meeting were senior officials from the Colombian and Brazilian embassies, as well as key representatives from Venezuelan coup leader Guaido’s golpista “shadow government.”
The US Agency for International Aid and Development (USAid) was also represented at the meeting, an indication of the leading role it has played in seeking to destabilise Venezuela since ramping up its activities in 2007.
USAid funds worth between $45 to $50 million per year have been funnelled to opposition political, media, and civil society groups to undermine the elected governments of both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro.
Most recently, it has been reported that USAid oversaw the provocative operation to force so-called humanitarian aid in trucks across the border from Colombia to Venezuela, which resulted in right-wing opposition guarimberos setting fire to the convoy with Molotov cocktails.
While the planning around a military intervention goes on in various quarters, the US’s disinformation campaign to consolidate its narrative for the necessity of toppling the elected Maduro government goes on.
In an interview Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton warned that “President Trump is determined not to see Venezuela fall under the sway of foreign powers,” adding: “if the Monroe Doctrine fails, if China and Russia, along with Cuba, establish domination over Venezuela, I think American strategic interests will be harmed… and… the people of Venezuela will be trapped in this dictatorship.”
Sanctions have also been stepped up against Venezuela to squeeze its economy even further. Targeting the oil sector, Venezuela’s main source of export revenue, the US Treasury Department imposed a de facto oil embargo in late January that is estimated to cost the country $11 billion in export revenue in 2019.
More recently, new measures have targeted Venezuela’s mining and banking sectors.
The imposition of the sanctions has been challenged by UN human rights expert Idriss Jazairy who has said that they “are effectively compounding the grave [economic] crisis,” and voicing his concern that the unilateral measures “are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela.”
The coup attempt this week, and the attempts to economically strangle Venezuela from the US through sanctions and other means, remind me starkly of the build-up to Pinochet’s coup against Allende in Chile.
It has to be a top priority for socialists and progressives everywhere to say no more Pinochets in Latin America, and raise awareness of the very real threat of US military action against Venezuela.
First published by the Morning Star.