Up Close on Venezuela’s Crisis

U.S. policymakers are pleased with the ousters of leftist governments in Argentina and Brazil with the next prospective “regime change” in Venezuela where the economy screams and people are hungry, as Catholic layworker Lisa Sullivan describes.

An open letter from Lisa Sullivan

Dear friends,

Greetings from the state of Aragua in Venezuela where we are concluding a small U.S. delegation focused on grassroots solutions to the massive food crisis here. I am reaching out to you to share my grave concerns about what is happening here in Venezuela, my home for over three decades where I worked for 21 years as a Maryknoll Catholic lay missioner, then as Latin America Coordinator for the School of the Americas Watch.

It is out of concern for the most vulnerable sectors in Venezuela, such as my neighbors, that I break my silence to write. As I watch their efforts to obtain food for their families become more desperate and more futile, and as I witness pounds dropping from their bodies, I think the time has come to do more than share from my own scarce cupboards and gardens as they share with me. These people, my friends and neighbors and family, are literally being swallowed up by massive economic and political interests.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

A perfect storm of a collapse of global oil prices combined with massive internal economic errors leading to unbridled corruption on all levels of society has left these vulnerable sectors literally almost starving.

The reaction of the U.S. and other global interests seems clearly based on Venezuela’s enormous oil reserves (the world’s largest). Those interests are circling our nation like vultures, ready to swoop in and devour.

I have spent countless hours leading delegations to Venezuela over the past 12 years to share the enormous advances in education, health care, housing and nutrition that returned dignity to millions of Venezuelans under the Bolivarian revolution.

Throughout those years there was an almost total boycott of the international media to acknowledge these advances that led to Venezuela becoming the most equal society in the Americas, to its surge to fifth place worldwide for college enrollment and to building new homes for a fifth of its families. The achievements of the Bolivarian revolution were real, palpable and inspired a continent.

Today our reality is widespread hunger. The current government points to an economic war unleashed by wealthy business owners with international support from the U.S. that has led to hoarding and shortages of food. The U.S. points to mismanagement and poor planning on the part of the Bolivarian government that led to a nation totally renter economy dependent on food imports.

My neighbors point to their stomachs while simultaneously planting corn and beans and bananas in any tiny space, beseeching the heavens for rains that have also been in dire shortage this season.

I wish that I could share a simple message or solution with you, such as “close the SOA.” [The School of the Americas or SOA is a U.S.-run military training facility for Latin America that has been blamed for widespread political repression and human rights violations.] Observing such complicity in this crisis all around me, near and far, I can offer no simple slogan.

However, having spent a decade traveling the continent witnessing the horrors unleashed by U.S.- trained Latin American military upon their own people, I want to at least alert you to the possibility of a similar scenario here.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo credit: Valter Campanato/ABr)

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo credit: Valter Campanato/ABr)

Unfortunately, because the Bolivarian government has already experienced this very reality of outside complicity in a military coup in 2002, they are ultra sensitive (understandably so) towards any critiques and suggestions, even within their own ranks. Unwittingly that may contribute to an eventual military or outside solution rather than allowing for an internal democratic resolution to this grave humanitarian crisis.

As the political configuration of South America quickly shifts to the right and the global alignment of power is in active play, Venezuela is in the cross-hairs. The grave humanitarian crisis in Venezuela today is real and not an invention of the press.

And the contributions to this crisis lie on multiple shoulders. And the solution to this problem needs to be determined by the Venezuelan people with support from other Latin American peoples.

Hoping that these days don’t bring worse scenarios. Thanks for your support through the years.

Abrazos, Lisa

(This letter from Lisa Sullivan comes via Rick Sterling of Task Force on the Americas with Lisa’s approval.)

17 comments for “Up Close on Venezuela’s Crisis

  1. fuster
    May 21, 2016 at 20:37

    dear Lisa.

    you really are wildly out of touch with the larger reality.

    Venezuela is collapsing under the weight of the government’s failures and lousy choices. Chavez’s cultish government was collapsing before his death and certainly was never going to be able to long outlive him

    crap about how it’s outsiders bringing down Venezuela is petty, puling nonsense.

  2. Erik
    May 20, 2016 at 06:48

    The article merely advises against intervention by the successor to the “School of the Americas.” The US has for generations used economic war against socialist governments, so that is certain. Just look at Cuba. Whether the standard US blaming of socialist target governments for “mismanagement and poor planning” has any truth makes no difference, where the oil-dependent economy has shifted dramatically.

    The commenters here claiming otherwise are clearly USG hacks pretending otherwise.

  3. TeeJay
    May 20, 2016 at 02:51

    The US is gettinf as bad a Nazi Germany…What is this facade the US publically portrays as human right advocates and at the same time train death squads to support the American Imperium that will be moving in to destroy economies and then puck up the spoils for pennies on the dollar..
    If anybody thinks that Washington is about politics these days, I say bullshit, it business as usual and they look good playinjg identity politics and throwing a bone to some group for good political currency scores..
    What an excellent news site Consortium is…I know classy outfits and this site has by reporting the truth..
    Wish I could send some bucks but I’m barely staying online.

  4. Willie Redd
    May 20, 2016 at 00:07

    As a Negro-Mestizo American with socialist proclivities, I was really pro-Chavez up until his last few years, inviting the corrupt Russians and Chinese in the country as he did in this futile attempt to spite the Empire…
    Maduro, however, I despise. He knows nothing and shows everything while not even attempting to looking democratic. Socialists in other Latin American countries don’t even speak up for the type of people they claim to represent when failing governments unleash unwarranted force on the protesting innocent and desperate. This kills all credibility in the eyes of most…
    As does the repeatedly used and predictable, stale tactic of blaming the US for Venezuela government failures.
    Get a fuckin clue and give it up, asshole, before you ruin socialism in the eyes of your own people for a generation.

    • Erik
      May 20, 2016 at 07:03

      This is pure USG right-wing propaganda claiming to be the opposite. These statements prove your dishonesty:

      1. “a Negro-Mestizo American with socialist proclivities”
      You would not say such a thing if you were. You are not.

      2. “Socialists in other Latin American countries don’t even speak up for the type of people they claim to represent”
      You pretend that no Latin American socialist is sincere. Obviously false and absurd.

      3. “failing governments unleash unwarranted force on the protesting innocent”
      You fail to present evidence of a “failing government” in a recession caused by oil prices.
      You fail to argue that the US government was not responsible for its recession. It was.
      You fail to argue that the US government does not suppress protest. It do so systematically.

      4. “inviting the corrupt Russians and Chinese in the country as he did in this futile attempt to spite the Empire”
      You claim that any “attempt to spite the Empire” is futile. admitting your imperialist intent.
      You claim without evidence that “Russians and Chinese” are necessarily corrupt, an absurd proposition.

      In fact you present nothing but here but extreme right-wing propaganda and the false claim of opposite political intentions. You are a liar.

  5. Oz
    May 19, 2016 at 21:51

    One nation which has been overlooked in this analysis is neighboring Guyana. The US Department of State intervened openly into this year’s presidential election, passing around money to opposition groups and promoting a “color revolution” against the incumbent government of the People’s Progressive Party, which had aligned itself with the BRICS nations. The new government is implementing the standard “Washington Consensus” program of austerity and free trade. In a certain sense, the March election in Guyana was a precursor to what has happened in Argentina and Brazil.

  6. LT
    May 19, 2016 at 17:25

    Get Cuba out of Venezuela! They are the real imperialists!

    • jaycee
      May 19, 2016 at 22:03

      Actually, Cuba has not been “in” Venezuela unless you want to describe a fair number of doctors and other trained medical practioners an “imperialist” venture. Likewise, “large sectors of the private economy” were never nationalized under Chavez. Oil profits were reverted to programs assisting large sectors of the previously impoverished population, rather than heading offshore.

      By any objective measure, improvements in health, welfare and education for the majority of the population has been a success story of historic dimensions. Venezuela’s political opposition clearly resents this achievement. Before the opportunities offered them by the crash in oil prices, their political program consisted of whining and petty vandalism. A short term victory in the short trrm may be available to them now, but it is clear they still have nothing to offer most of the people.

    • Erik
      May 20, 2016 at 07:06

      This is just an absurd right-wing propagandist. There is no possible justification for the statement, and the commenter knows full well that it is the opposite of the truth.

  7. rick sterling
    May 19, 2016 at 16:53

    USA has been doing its best to exacerbate the problems and undermine solutions. This is done diplomatically, economically and otherwise, justified with the preposterous claim that Venezuela is a “national security threat” to the USA. The truth, of course, is the reverse.

    For current news & analysis in English see http://www.venezuelanalysis.com

    • Mike G
      May 19, 2016 at 18:17

      Ahh, the excuse of last resort for the Stalinist: blame it on the “wreckers”

      • Erik
        May 20, 2016 at 07:07

        Obviously you are a right-wing propagandist, equating socialism with Stalinism.
        Your propaganda attempt very well illustrates the intent of your fellow “wreckers.”

        • David Smith
          May 20, 2016 at 11:40

          Thank you Erik, jaycee, and WackedOutVet for you hard work demolishing the paid Contard trolls on this thread.

  8. Mike G
    May 19, 2016 at 13:16

    what did Venezuelans expect would happen when large sectors of the private economy were nationalized and then given to Chavez/Maduro cronies to run right into the ground. The chance of a coup is 100% at this point but given how Chavez/Maduro have made the armed forces loyal to them, instead of loyal to the nation, it will fail and Venezuela will collapse entirely.

    • WackedOutVet
      May 19, 2016 at 14:33

      Typical neo-con … simpleton shilling for his masters and clueless about the actual complexities of the situation. I am impressed that he can actually write well enough to parrot the bs of “rush” and fellow “reality denying” idealogues.
      Or was it a “cut and paste” from some of his “betters”?

      • van
        May 19, 2016 at 16:39

        Not an argument and gave no substantial rebuttal.

        • Erik
          May 20, 2016 at 07:13

          Well, here’s the argument, “van.” The comment fails to substantiate the absurd claim that sectors of economy were “nationalized and then given to Chavez/Maduro cronies.” Why would anyone believe that? It is obvious right-wing propaganda. If you had any evidence for that it would be a news story. But you don’t, because it makes no sense.

          Most likely you are the same person as “Mike G” and “LT.” Or did you and your military buddies decide to hack the site today with garbage from your superiors?

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