How Venezuela Re-elected Maduro, Defying the U.S.

Nicolás Maduro overcame intense opposition from Washington and rich Venezuelans to be re-elected, but he’s not out of the woods yet, as Roger D. Harris explains.

By Roger D. Harris
in Caracas

The Venezuelan people reelected Nicolás Maduro for a second presidential term on May 20, bucking a U.S.-backed political tide of reaction that had swept away previously left-leaning Latin American governments – often by extra-parliamentary means – in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Honduras, and even Ecuador.

The United States and the right-wing opposition in Venezuela had demanded an election boycott and Maduro’s resignation. Instead, a majority of Venezuelans defiantly voted for Maduro, affirming the legacy of Hugo Chávez.

Chávez was first elected in 1998 and died in office on March 5, 2013. He had spearheaded a movement that turned Venezuela from an epigone of Washington into an independent force opposing U.S. hegemony. The Bolivarian Revolution reclaimed Venezuela’s history and forged a new national identity that no longer looked to Miami for affirmation. Even some of the most anti-chavismo now take pride in being Venezuelan. Such has been the depth of the sea change in national consciousness.

Venezuelan society became more inclusive for the poor, especially women, people of color, and youth. Of the 300-odd mayoralties in Venezuela, over 100 mayors are under 30 years old. As historian Greg Grandin observed, this inclusiveness has awakened “a deep fear of the primal hatred, racism, and fury of the opposition, which for now is directed at the agents of Maduro’s state but really springs from Chávez’s expansion of the public sphere to include Venezuela’s poor.”

On a geopolitical level, the Bolivarian Revolution placed a renewed focus on opposing U.S. dominance. While some on the left have become confused about opposing imperialism, Washington has made regime change in Venezuela a priority.

Maduro inherited all this and more: a dysfunctional currency system, deeply engrained corruption, an entrenched criminal element, a petro-economy dependent on the international market, and the eternal enmity of Washington.


Maduro’s First Election – Yo Soy Chávez

The Venezuelan people first elected Maduro president on April 14, 2013, in a nation still reeling from the death of Chávez just five weeks before after snap presidential elections were called according to the constitution.

Chávez was bigger than life when he was alive. In death Chávez emerged even larger. Even for the 6’ 3” former bus driver and union leader, these were very big shoes for Maduro to fill.

In graffiti on the walls of working class neighborhoods and on red tee-shirts worn by the chavista faithful, the slogan of the 2013 election was Yo Soy Chávez (I am Chávez). Maduro had been Chávez ’s foreign minister starting in 2006 and vice president and then Chávez ’s designated successor in 2012, though he remained largely unknown.

Maduro’s Baptism by Fire

Chávez’s death was a traumatic moment for the Venezuelan people, and an opportunity not to be missed by the U.S. and largely well-off Venezuelan opposition to roll back the revolution. Maduro had no grace period, nor did he waver.

The main opposition candidate in 2013, Henrique Capriles, appeared on national TV within moments of the announcement of Maduro’s election victory and declared the election a fraud. He then called upon the Venezuelan people to “express their rage.”

What ensued was the opposition incited violence (guarimbas) of 2013, followed by the 2014 wave of escalated violence, and then the even more destructive violence of 2017. Mainly confined to middle class opposition neighborhoods, the violence destroyed billions of dollars of public property including buses and public transportation facilities, health clinics and hospitals, schools and universities.

Even more costly were the loss of more than one hundred people who perished in the violence: some opposition, more chavistas, and many bystanders. In the most recent round of violence, the most extreme opposition elements have burned suspected chavistas alive because of their skin color.

The game plan (see for example here) for the U.S. and its funded opposition appears to be:

Declare close election losses as fraudulent; boycott elections they don’t have a chance of winning and then call those results as fraudulent; and finally initiate street violence to provoke an over-reaction from the government.

U.S.-aligned big business in Venezuela has contributed to the opposition offensive by creating selective shortages in consumer goods as part of what has become known as the economic war. While liquor stores are fully stocked, according to a young woman from the state of Táchira bordering Colombia, items such as feminine hygiene products and diapers are scarce, targeting the grassroots chavista leadership, which is mainly female.

The Obama administration declared Venezuela an “extraordinary national security threat” in 2015 and has since, continuing with the Trump administration, piled on ever increasing economic sanctions. U.S.-led diplomatic efforts have been designed to isolate Venezuela and further pressure Maduro simply to give up and resign.

Ortega-Diaz: Fled the country in a speedboat.

After Maduro’s accession to the Venezuelan presidency, international petroleum prices plummeted, dealing a near decisive blow to the country’s economy. Revenues from petroleum sales fund the vast social programs of the Bolivarian Revolution, as well as paper over the economic inefficiencies that Maduro had inherited and the outright mistakes and corruption under his own watch. 
Both the opposition and Maduro have targeted corruption within the ranks of Chávismo. But for Maduro there has been no winning for trying. When he attacks corruption in his own ranks, he is accused of being authoritarian. His former attorney general, Luisa Ortega Díaz, who was removed for corruption, and fled the country on a speedboat, has been elevated to a political martyr by the opposition.

Why Maduro was Reelected

Under normal conditions, Maduro’s prospects for reelection in 2018 would have looked dismal. Venezuela was experiencing hyper-inflation, GDP growth was negative, and critical shortages were piling up. The U.S. and its hemispheric allies in the anti-Venezuelan Lima Group were trying to invoke the charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) militarily to intervene in Venezuela based on a “humanitarian crisis.”

While hardship today in Venezuela is undeniable, it does not rise to a level of humanitarian crisis. That’s the fake news. Well-stocked stores and lively commerce are plainly in view in much of Caracas.

The real news is that even though Venezuela has the funds to buy vital medicines and food stuffs, such efforts are being blocked by U.S., Canadian, and European Union sanctions. In other words, the enemies of Venezuela are hypocritically condemning the very conditions they are exacerbating.

The rightwing opposition is united in their class antipathy to the main beneficiaries of the Bolivarian Revolution: the poor and working people of Venezuela. But the opposition, despite assistance from the U.S., has been divided over whether to try to overthrow Maduro by illegal means or electorally.

The opposition has won only two of some two-dozen major national elections since 1998. On that basis it complains of a “dictatorship,” while former U.S. President Jimmy Carter calls Venezuela’as the best electoral system in the world.

When the opposition won the National Assembly elections in December 2015, they had no program to address the dire economic problems facing the country. Instead, they passed an amnesty law for illegal activities some in the oppositon had engaged in, such as narco-trafficking, perpetrating coups, and terrorism.

A constitutional stalemate between the opposition-dominated National Assembly and the chavista-dominated Supreme Court then paralyzed government. Maduro exercised a constitutional provision to call for a national election to create a Constituent Assembly with power over both warring branches of government. The chavista electoral victory in July 2017 so demoralized the already divided opposition, that they ceased mounting violent actions. Venezuela has enjoyed relative domestic peace since.

Meanwhile a resilient Maduro government has maintained and extended core social programs such as building two million housing units for the poor. Measures taken include creating the Petro crypto-currency, revaluing the regular currency, distributing food through the CLAP program, setting up subsidized trucks selling arepas (Venezuelan equivalent of the taco), diplomatically forging closer relations with China and Russia, and most of all relying on the strength of the chavista base.

The Opposition to Maduro’s Second Election

The friendly faces of MUD leaders.

First the U.S. and the Venezuelan opposition accused Maduro of not calling a presidential election. So Maduro called an election, and then they accused him to setting it too early. In on-again-off-again negotiations with elements of the opposition, the election was moved to a later date and then again to a still later date, settling on May 20, 2018.

The U.S. and the main opposition coalition, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), instead called on Maduro to call off elections and resign. In effect, any election they could not win had to be fraudulent. The opposition called for yet more punishing U.S. sanctions on their own people and echoed the U.S. in threatening a coup, all in the name of “restoring democracy.”

Henri Falcón broke ranks with the MUD and ran a weak campaign against Maduro, despite intense pressure from the U.S. and the non-electoral opposition to boycott the election. Falcón had been the campaign manager for Capriles, the 2013 opposition candidate.

Falcón’s main program was to replace the Venezuelan currency with the U.S. dollar, which would address inflation but would also prevent the government from using fiscal means to manage the national economy. He also advocated taking massive loans from the IMF and other institutions of international capital. The chavistas characterized his program as selling out Venezuela to foreigners.

Falcón had signed a pledge to recognize whomever won the election, which he promptly reneged on within minutes of losing, predictably claiming “irregularities.”

Maduro’s Second Election – Vamos Nico

Only 46 percent of eligible voters cast ballots on May 20, a turnout comparable to many U.S. elections and the election of French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, but low by Venezuelan standards. Nevertheless, Maduro received a larger percentage of the eligible vote in Venezuela than did Barack Obama in 2012 or Donald Trump in 2016 in U.S. presidential elections.

Besides the opposition boycott, people sympathetic to Maduro were not motivated to vote in an election they saw as not tightly contested.

Not only did Maduro sweep the contest with 68 percent of the vote, but he emerged as his own man from Chávez’s shadow. Maduro had forged deep personal ties with his supporters, evident from a red sea of supporters triumphantly chanting “vamos Nico” (“go Nico,” with Nico, short for Nicolás) when Maduro went to the National Electoral Council for the official notification of his campaign.

Maduro won reelection on a playing field tilted against him.  But will his movement succeed in righting the economy as he promised on a playing field tilted even more precipitously against his government? Already the Trump administration has imposed new sanctions designed to prevent recovery, further punishing the Venezuelan people for voting the way they wanted.

A version of this article first appeared on Venezuela Analysis.

Roger D. Harris is immediate past president of the 32-year-old anti-imperialist human rights organization Task Force on the Americas. He was an election observer in Venezuela for both of Maduro’s elections, most recently on a delegation with Venezuela Analysis and the Intrepid News Fund.

66 comments for “How Venezuela Re-elected Maduro, Defying the U.S.

  1. robin
    June 12, 2018 at 16:32

    Hugo Chavez didn’t die , but was assassinated .
    Venezuela, like Cuba in the early 90’s, found itself alone, abandoned, spat at and demonized. But it did not fall on its knees. For decades and centuries, the people of Latin America were ruled and robbed by the corrupt bandits, who were using their continent as a milking cow, while living in opulence of the Western aristocracy. All that was done, naturally, in the name of ‘democracy’ .
    Venezuela, like Cuba in the early 90’s, found itself alone, abandoned, spat at and demonized. But it did not fall on its knees. President Maduro won. Long live Venezuela ! —-

  2. June 7, 2018 at 00:47

    All the best to Maduro! I hope other countries help enough, and Venezuela creates many different

    • Jason
      June 9, 2018 at 13:09

      Your precious leader is going to be convicted in an international criminal court for crimes against humanity for over 8,000 summary excutions(without trial) and 18,000 cases of arbitary dention which include rape, torture, and cruel and inhumane treatment. Sleep tight.

  3. Scott Zagoria
    June 5, 2018 at 12:04

    i’m not going to read the comments. one gets tired of reading rabid amerikans. i simply don’t care what you have to say. as for the author, he is dreaming. well-stocked shops. the nation is simply moving toward another imperialist relationship. and those protesters really were getting shot with live rounds. oil traded for more soviet weapons and more repression. everything the article claims is true but its conclusions are wholeheartedly filtered through the white man global capitalist experience. not exactly what che and bolivar had in mind, maduro.

    • padre
      June 6, 2018 at 08:15

      So I gather you think Trump is intelligent?And I just wonder what it has to do with you, what gevernement they have in Venezuela, or anywhere else?You think you are so more intelligent than the rest of us around the globe, you are entitled to tell us, who is the right person to lead us?

  4. anastasia
    June 5, 2018 at 08:56

    Do you notice that with Syria, Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, et al, the media (including FOX News) never publishes a response from those countries. Never.

  5. anastasia
    June 5, 2018 at 08:51

    Trump is an overwhelming disappointment

  6. mike k
    June 5, 2018 at 08:17

    More troll spam. The article must have hit a nerve.

  7. mike k
    June 5, 2018 at 08:15

    So much for site moderation! What is it good for when it OK’s this kind of garbage?

  8. Will
    June 4, 2018 at 23:19

    Maduro disbanded tge ELECTED Congress, jailed without cause two opposition candidates possessing higher public approval than him, bared the main opposition parties from the election, spend millions in public finds on his campaign, denied opposition candidates air time… THAT WAS A FAIR ELECTION?
    YES: It was as fair as tge last election when 600,000 dead Venezuelans voted for Maduro.
    Tge autgor of this article clearly hss an extremely limited knowledge of the country where I once lived.

    • mike k
      June 5, 2018 at 08:13

      Sounds like you probably weren’t a big fan of Chavez either, Will. And I can guess you think socialism is a horrible form of government. The wealthy are the only ones truly qualified to lead, eh?

      • Jason
        June 9, 2018 at 07:30

        I don’t think wealthy qualifies anyone to lead, but how about at least finishing high school? Maduro didn’t finish high school so it can be said that he might not know how to read. Forget the politics. Why don’t you ask yourself and tell the rest of us if there is any qualifications for a socialist running for office?

    • Quixotic1
      June 5, 2018 at 08:17

      The national assembly was not disbanded but was being held in contempt by the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) for violating a court order not to swear in three candidates accused of irregularities pending the outcome of an investigation. The matter could have been resolved very easily had the national assembly chosen to comply with the order. Instead, it has flouted the court, not once, but several times — originally swearing them in but then a short time afterwards removing them. Then again reintegrating them a few months later. It was at this time that the court considered them in contempt. After that, the disputed lawmakers offered their resignation as a bargaining maneuver only to renege on that offer a few weeks later. Then the opposition agreed to de-seat them but failed to comply with procedure laid out by the court. This is what has led to the standoff which led the court to declare decisions rendered by the National Assembly null pending resolution of the issues, and which(of course) has been completely misrepresented here in U.S. media. It appears this strategy is being deliberately pursued by the opposition to perpetuate an atmosphere of tension within the government and advance the narrative that attempts to label Maduro as a “dictator.” It also appears, contrary what you’re being told here, that Maduro has not been entirely comfortable with these developments and it’s not apparently something he orchestrated
      In the case of the two candidates “jailed without cause”, both Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles were complicit in the 2002 coup, signed off on the Carmona decree that dissolved the legislature and supreme court, and participated in persecuting and detaining members of the Chavez government allowing some to be publicly beaten, including the interior minister. One wonders, had the coup not been so short-lived, what would have been the fate of those detained? In the case of Lopez, he was sentenced in 2015 for his part in leading violent anti-government protests that resulted in over 40 deaths. (He is currently under house arrest.) They attempt to depict him (Lopez) here in the U.S. as some sort of Gandhi-like figure or MLK, but the man is a violent criminal who tried to usher in a dictatorship under Carmona and has since been involved in insurrectionary violence. In the case of Capriles, he has been charged with corruption and receiving international financing for electoral campaigns which, whatever the status of those charges (I can’t say I have enough detail to know), given his history, wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. But considering Falcon had a Chavista background, and could probably appeal to a broader cross section of Venezuelan society, I don’t necessarily think it was a foregone conclusion that Capriles would have been the strongest candidate. Quite arguably Falcon may have been the stronger candidate. So, it’s not as if they didn’t have adequate representation… and some pre-election polls indicated that had the opposition not chosen to boycott and had they rallied around Falcon, they would’ve had a good chance of winning. And I have to say this, can you imagine what would’ve happened if someone participated in an analogous action directed against the U.S. government as Lopez and Capriles did in 2002 in Venezuela? I doubt if either one of them would still be drawing breath, much less be worried about running for election.
      As far as “barring the main opposition parties from the election” goes, this is just another lie/distortion. What is actually the case is that under a new rule parties will need to go through the reapplication process if they didn’t participate in the “immediately previous” election. While this may place an additional burden of red tape to fulfill the requirement, it’s far from “barring” the opposition. To quote an article from “Whether or not this is a reasonable measure is up to you to decide. There’s an argument to be made that any impediment to participating in democracy (whether as a voter or candidate) should be condemned. On the other hand, the opposition does have a bad habit of running only in elections it thinks it can win, while simply boycotting any it expects to lose. This isn’t just a sore loser strategy; rather, it’s a cynical show aimed at delegitimising and attacking Venezuela’s democracy.”
      As far as your statement that in the last election “600,000 dead Venezuelans voted for Maduro,” you just made that up out of whole cloth. The Venezuelan elections are known as some of the cleanest elections in the world! “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” — Jimmy Carter

      • Jason
        June 5, 2018 at 23:41

        Quixotic1 your response has only one bit of truth to it. It’s that no matter what the excuse or the story opposition canidates somehow are barred from running in an election no matter what Telesur or Venezuelananalysis says was held 5 months early. Hell, the bus driver took the oath in May for a term thats supposed to start in Jan of 2019.??? And he took the oath in front of a temporary assembly he created and ordered to have elections early. He ordered it and it was so. Tell me any other democracy on the planet where the “president” orders when elections are held? And Presidential Elections at that. You know what, say what you want about the US, but you can’t say Trump orders when elections happen? You can’t say the Army pledges alligence to him and not a constitution? You can’t say the National Electoral Council swears loyalty openly to the “president” and think there is any truth to elections. If you think otherwise you don’t know what a dictatorship is. You wouldn’t know one if was right in front of your face. And you don’t know dictatorships are the worst.

        • Steve Abbott
          June 6, 2018 at 13:28

          Jason: “Tell me any other democracy on the planet where the ‘president’ orders when elections are held.”

          Um… Canada,… Although to be more accurate, in Canada’s case it is the PM who decides, and we are in a transitional phase of somewhat limiting their ability to abuse that power. Many democracies have variations on that theme.

          Noted that Jason carefully avoided the fact of the opposition first having demanded early elections, and then demanded repeated delays.
          Jason also avoids responding to the historical accuracy of quixotic’s very useful summary, other than to seemingly imply that high treason was no reason to disqualify a candidate, and that interference in other countries’ elections should be regarded as standard practice…?

          • Jason
            June 9, 2018 at 07:03

            No I am saying dictatorships shouldn’t exist in any form. From what you are telling me Canada is a dictatorship where the Prime Minister is the dictator. The Prime Minister is in complete control of the Electorial branch of government?
            I will check on this. But it is surprising to me that a once British colony would allow anyone to cancel democracy.

          • Jason
            June 9, 2018 at 07:39

            Steve I also do not avoid any questions/facts. The opposition asked for a presidential recall. They were denied by what you claim is an impartial CNE and TSJ. Both of these parties and groups openly declare loyalty to Maduro and not the Consititution so quixotic’s summary are just excuses to solidify a dictatorship. A Narcodictatorship run by bus driver who never finished high school losing an economic war because he never took an economics class. Here is a bold prediction. Maduro will never win this economic war and Venezuela the richest country in South America will be worse off economically then Cuba.

        • Quixotic1
          June 7, 2018 at 07:18

          Jason: The date of the elections were agreed upon in negotiations between the government and the opposition. These negotiations were mediated by the government of the Dominican Republic and Spain’s former prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. The date was initially established as April 22nd, but unexpectedly, at the last moment, the opposition decided to withdraw. (Apparently, the U.S. leaned on the opposition.) In a statement in which Rodriguez Zapatero criticized the opposition’s last-minute withdrawal, he said, “I find it shocking that the document was not signed by the opposition representation. I do not agree with the circumstances and the reasons, but my duty is to defend the truth and my commitment is not to give up on the achievement of a historic commitment among Venezuelans.” For its part, the government decided to sign the agreement anyway and proceed with the April 22nd election as scheduled, with or without the opposition. And the opposition, as you know, boycotted the election. Henri Falcon, however, defied the boycott and announced his candidacy, and in negotiations with the government, arranged to postpone the election date until May 20th. So, as you can see, these dates were not arbitrarily set. They were both as a result of negotiations carried out between the government and the opposition.

          In regards to the candidates being barred, I researched a little further the case of Capriles. It turns out, the legal authority for the disqualification of candidates by the Comptroller General actually precedes the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999, although reviewed and approved in 1999, and again modified in 2002, with the approval of the majority of the opposition. It was initiated as an anti-corruption measure which (corruption) has been and continues to be a problem in Venezuela. And seems the CG’s office has been even handed in its enforcement, with a case cited in one article I read of a number of disqualifications that took place in 2008 where the majority of those cited were Chavistas. In Capriles’ case, the main charge was misappropriation of public funds, for which he was fined. This, under the law as it currently stands, authorizes the CG to impose disqualification. The opposition considers the CG’s authority to do this as a violation of due process. (Even though there is an appeals process and any decision can be taken before the Supreme Court as a last resort.) But if there is a potential for political influence/abuse of the process, and if as some might say, it concentrates too much power in an administrative proceeding, this is not Maduro’s fault, or his doing. As mentioned, the basic form of this law precedes even the Bolivarian government, and when it was approved in its current form in 2002 even the opposition was in support of it. What they would need to do if they have objections is to try to change the law, But to blame it on Maduro — try to make him out to be some sort of “dictator” over this — seems a bit much. The other thing is, again citing the above example (of Chavistas being targeted as much as the opposition), that it seems to have been administered even handedly in the past. And I think the burden of proof in this case is on those who claim political bias… not the other way around.

          • Jason
            June 9, 2018 at 07:23

            Was agreed upon? How can you have an agreement when you don’t sign the agreement???? Would you like me to sign you up to give half your money away without you signing any documents stating you agree with it????
            Also. Calling for early elections was called on by the opposition when they foolishly thought that elections in Venezuela was not a fraudulent procedure. What they wanted was a presidential recall. The CNE made this impossible by putting up deadlines and procedures never before heard of to delay the process. They didn’t initially ask for a recall because it never occured to them that Maduro would have the National Assembly invalided. By the time they figured this out it was alittle late for the process, but the CNE waited months to have processes done when we both know now they didn’t need the time.
            Opposition canidates you claim are being barred from public office on Claims of corruption. There were no trials and convictions of corruption for any of the National Assembly members or presidential canidates. Not that this matters because the TSJ lead by a convicted murder would do whatever Maduro tells him. We know this when he convicted Leopoldo Lopez for Subliminal calls for violence in 2014 and denied him any witnesses of his own to defend himself against this ridiculous claim. How can someone be convicted for subliminal messages? how could this even be proven. Look my point is this. When something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck you call it what it is. A duck. In Venezuela’s case a Narcodictatorship headed by bus driver who never finished high school losing an Economic war because he never took a class in economics.

          • Quixotic1
            June 10, 2018 at 05:40

            In terms of that agreement, all that remained was the signing. Everything was apparently agreed upon minus the formality of putting pen to paper. But for some mysterious unknown reason at the last minute the opposition balked. It seems pressure was coming from somewhere that prevented them from acting in good faith. The quote by Rodriguez Zapatero tends to support that interpretation.

            First you said it was the “dictator” Maduro who ordered the election by fiat — “Hell, the bus driver took the oath in May for a term thats supposed to start in Jan of 2019.???” “He ordered it and it was so.” — your words. Now you’re saying it was the opposition who called for early elections. Well, aside from the fact that your second contention seriously contradicts your first, you’re wrong on both counts. What actually happened was during the course of the
            above mentioned negotiations there was a general agreement by all parties involved that the presidential election, which normally is scheduled to take place late in the year, should be moved up to the first half of 2018. Here again, there was a consensus involved — hardly the actions of a “dictator.”

            And once again, you repeat that tired canard that “Maduro had the National Assembly invalidated.” What actually happened here, as previously described, is that the opposition used the issue of the unseating of the legislators (pending investigation) to defy the TSJ — as a sort of a bargaining chip in a protracted power play. Initially there were four legislators barred, two from MUD, one allied with MUD, and one pro-government. The pro-government side immediately complied, but the opposition chose to defy the court — not once, but many times. (please see my comment above) If the opposition wanted to use its powers, it would have been an easy matter to abide by the TSJ ruling and start legislating. But it seems the opposition had no interest in legislating. It seems all they were interested in was being obstructionist and disruptive and exacerbating tensions between the branches of government in order to make Venezuela ungovernable and in the process discrediting the government. The standoff between the legislature and the TSJ wasn’t limited to defiance over this order. They (the legislature) passed laws such as the amnesty law and the privatization of public housing law, tried to RETROACTIVELY shorten Maduro’s term through legislation (THAT sounds real democratic lol), and tried to declare that the president “had abandoned his post” as a means of removing him from office (how they can simultaneously call him a “dictator” while at the same time claim he “has abandoned his post” as in “neglecting to carry out functions of state,” is beyond me), (also, one of the rationales for their hoped for “political trial” of Maduro was the allegation that he was not actually a Venezuelan citizen and therefore ineligible for the presidency!… sound familiar?) — all done knowing full well these acts would be declared unconstitutional. One estimate has it that 75% of all legislation passed in 2016 was unconstitutional — and apparently blatantly so. So, as already alluded to, it seems pretty clear they (the opposition controlled legislature) had no interest in governing legitimately, and I don’t think it’s unfair to go so far as to say that this serves as a pretty good illustration of who the real enemies of democracy are in this case. As mentioned in my previous post, the TSJ, frustrated with the on-again, off-again, compliance with their order concerning the barred legislators finally held the NA in contempt. In response to a case brought by a subsidiary of the state oil company PDVSA requesting a ruling on whether the president can make reforms to mixed public-private businesses without the prior approval of the National Assembly the court ruled, as it had in previous rulings, by declaring the legislature null. The controversial aspect of the decision rendered this time, however, was that the court ruled that it would be standing in for the NA until the situation was resolved. (Which left the NA intact and was obviously only intended to be a temporary solution.) So, to say that the legislature was “dissolved” is just not true. And to say this situation was somehow orchestrated by Maduro in some kind of power grab also defies the facts of the case, IMHO. You would certainly have to ignore crucial context in order to come to that conclusion. In any case, the case was reviewed when the Attorney General expressed criticism of the TSJ’s ruling and the Assembly’s powers were reinstated. (Which ruling was by no means, a “slam dunk”, since a previous AG disagreed.) So please, let us not keep repeating this tired canard ad nauseum — without reference to the actual facts of the case.

            And it’s in response to this constitutional crisis that Maduro called for a National Constituent Assembly which, far from being “dictatorial”, as he has been accused here in the U.S., is an action prescribed under the Venezuelan Constitution — there are other permissible means as well (under the Constitution). The opposition in the National Assembly, since they were very close to the required vote threshold, could likely have initiated a NCA themselves. Or lacking that, they could have chosen to participate in the NCA called for by Maduro. But then, this is a democratic process and that doesn’t seem to fall too well into their preferred mode of operation — too much loss of control. But this action by Maduro is a testament to his commitment to democratic principles, IMHO. If he were a dictator, he might very well actually dissolve the NA, shut down government institutions, abolish the Constitution, unilaterally abolish laws not to his liking, (much like Carmona did during the brief tenure of his coup regime), call out the military, declare martial law. But instead, what does he do? He calls for a Constituent Assembly — he attempts to increase popular participation rather than restrict it. I’d say a testament not only to his democratic instincts, but to his humanness as well. So, kudos to him for that.

            As far as the people barred from public office without, in your opinion, due process. Under Venezuelan law the Comptroller General is vested with the power to initiate investigations and impose fines and penalties. There is also an appeals process. And as a last resort your case can be brought before the TSJ. This due process is what is prescribed by Venezuelan law. Not OUR law, THEIR law. You seem to be attempting to judge their legal practices by ours. They are entitled to their own laws. And it seems that those laws were faithfully followed in the cases in question here. Whether or not there was some individual corruption or bias in the process, that would be hard to judge lacking more detail. But there seems to be no question but that, institutionally speaking, the legally prescribed process was carried out. It’s not like Maduro, the supposed “dictator”, arbitrarily passed some law by fiat especially designed to have certain people banned. It seems due process was carried out exactly as prescribed by Venezuelan law.

            Now, of course, it’s not just Capriles and Lopez. There are others among the opposition. But it seems to me, as far as I can tell, there is not one case where there isn’t at least some association with violent acts, acts against the government, corruption, and other crimes. In the cases of Lopez and Capriles there is no doubt that they were active participants in the (thankfully) short-lived Carmona coup. And it’s no secret they both have been involved in organizing violent protests — the guarimbas, as they are called — which have proven to be deadly. And it only makes sense, since it’s consistent with what has been their MO all along. They do not respect the democratic process, and they seem to be willing to disrupt society in any way they can if it will advance their cause. (Of course, they’d rely on the vote if they thought that would work for them — but they’ll basically do it by “hook or crook” if they have to — at least, this is what their track record seems to indicate.) But one reason why I don’t feel like this (the cases against them) have been a campaign of selective enforcement based solely on the ideas they espouse, is that people who are seemingly clean, who also share their views, such as Henri Falcon, for example, have not been suppressed. And especially when you consider in Falcon’s case, he quite arguably represented the strongest candidate the opposition could have proffered, if nothing else, owing to the fact that he was considered moderate, had a Chavista background, and hadn’t discredited himself in the eyes of many people who might otherwise be government supporters, due to association with the coup and street violence etc., and would therefore have potential for wider appeal. As a matter of fact, some polls showed prior to the recent election, that had the opposition not boycotted, he had the potential to be a unifying force, and even had a good chance of winning. Why the government would choose suppress some opposition figures while leaving free to run the one candidate who arguably had the strongest appeal, just doesn’t add up to me. In any “dictatorship” deserving of the name, they wouldn’t leave themselves open to a challenge like that. Too risky. Just look at, say, Pinochet in Chile, for just one example off the top, he rounded up everybody in sight that could even remotely be considered a threat, students, intellectuals, of course, labor leaders, etc. torturing and killing thousands. Now THAT’S a dictatorship. (In case you needed help in visualizing what one looks like.) And of course, the U.S. loved him for it, helping things along as much as they could — because, well, we all know how much the U.S. stands for democratic values, right? And that, of course, is why they’re so concerned about bringing “democracy” to Venezuela — through regime change if necessary. lol It seems odd this obvious irony would escape so many people.

          • Jason
            June 11, 2018 at 15:36

            Quixotic1; You are smarter than the president you are defending I’ll give you that, but completely blind.
            If president Trump decided to walk stack the TSJ in the US with fascist supporters after the republicans lost the majority of their seats in the Congress and then that same TSJ suddenly found a problem with the results which prevented another party from a super majority would you consider this a coincidence???? This is a job usually carried out by the CNE??? Also to this day there has been no investigation to find if there is any proof of what you call irregularities??? Also another interesting fact there were also no new elections for the states without representation??? Wow??? how does this happen??? Its gives a f@ck who is represented and who isn’t. Something else you said that is puzzling. To you if someone is convicted of irregularities without investigation it is okay after 6-8 months of waiting to SUSPEND THE ENTIRE NA for finally swearing them in.. Well it became apparent to everyone that the accusations were just fake.
            And if the CNE was really that worried or you had the same resolve the NCA and the president “Maduro” (sixth grade educated nacrodictator) would not be sworn in to this day. The makers of the voting machines said publicly without a doubt and with proof that the numbers produced by the CNE were inflated for the NCA elections (fake elections)
            Look you claim it is the opposition who is anti democratic when Maduro cancels recalls, suspends the NA, and replaces it with an Assembly full of his family members including his wife?? Oh yeah that’s an impartial independent invented branch of government right? And yeah the excuse for all of this is because the opposition are doing everything possible to restore independent separation of powers and to have free and fair elections. Free people who are not being tried for a crime and allow humanitarian aid for poor people suffering from horrible economic conditions.
            You want to talk about irregularities during your fake elections? how about the fatherland card handed out to supporters who voted so they could eat food right outside the voting booths?? Huh?
            Maduro is going to be on trial soon for crimes against humanity soon because of a report conducted by the UN that implicated him in over 6,000 executions without trial, and over 18,000 cases of rape, kidnapping, and torture. They read this report about three weeks ago during a meeting at the OAS. It made everyone sick to hear the charges and reports. Disgusting.

          • Jason
            June 12, 2018 at 12:43

            Face it Quixotic1. There is a very clear record of the opposition trying every non violent and peaceful action to restore democracy from a group of drug dealing uneducated fascists. At every turn which finally involves vote rigging the Chavistas have made this an impossibility. They have invalidated(suspended, Stripped of power, whatever fake term you would like to use) the National Assembly and replaced them with first the TSJ and now the NCA. Both groups were not elected but appointed by none other than you guessed it. President Madburro. The TSJ was appointed by the then leaving NA memebers(Madburro lackeys) the last two weeks of December. The NCA were appointed by secret ballot (LOL) and the people had a choice of one chavista or another chavista another bad joke for the incredibly stupid to vote for. The government employees who could not prove they voted in this sham lost their job. The Venezuelan people had a vote before the this fake sham with more votes against the NCA than the Maduro supposedly got for the last election. Voting machine maker came out and called the results fake.
            There is a clear absence of choice for the Venezuelan people in Venezuela. And no bogyman US is responsible for the canceling of democracy. Your 16 year old 2 day coup that you use to demonize the opposition. How many died in this Coup? Was it more or less than the students or kids shot last year for trying to exercise their right to protest?
            You claim all of the opposition members were active in this coup. How many went to Jail??
            When is this nightmare going to end? How is the sixth grade dictator going to fix the economy? DO you have any answers for the suffering of the Venezuelan people besides pointing the finger like a child and blaming the CIA for the fact that Madburro doesn’t know anything about economics???
            If you don’t have any answers to fix the country I suggest you sale crazy somewhere else.

          • Quixotic1
            June 15, 2018 at 08:21

            Jason: I wasn’t expecting the thread to continue otherwise I would have responded sooner. But I just want to make a couple of points.

            One thing is that the opposition is always deriding Maduro for his background, which I personally think is elitist. I mean, I’d rather have someone in office with his background than say a corporate lawyer (like Nixon, for example)… someone who’s too well connected with the system.

            RE: the seating of the TSJ justices — AG Luisa Ortega Diaz claimed in a June 2017 interview that she “had not participated” in the selection process at the time — even though it would fall under her normal responsibilities. She also said that she “warned that the process was poorly done.”

            But she was almost immediately refuted by Ombudsman and MRC President Tarek William Saab, who stated: “There was no opinion, either in writing or verbally, expressed by the attorney general against this selection process. Nor a dissenting vote, nor an injunction and that is archived and public knowledge”. He went on to say, “If there had been, the proof would have remained in the archives of the Moral Republican Council as a record of that meeting,”

            Another thing was a photo that emerged publicly from her Twitter account with the caption: “”In the National Assembly handing over the list and records of the candidates for TSJ judges,”

            So it seems to me that she was caught in misstatement of fact here. It was then a year and a half later (June 2017) that she claimed there were “irregularities” in the seating of the judges. But the fact that she claimed not to have been involved in the process when the evidence seems to point to the opposite conclusion — does tend to undermine her credibility on this.

            Another thing I’d point out is that the ideological outlook of the court has hardly changed. It was pro-government/pro-Chavista both before and after the new judges were seated. So, I don’t know how that’s supposed to represent some big power gambit on the part of Maduro.

            Also, she criticized the convening of the Constituent Assembly without a consultative referendum taking place first, as unconstitutional. But here again, even she admits that it’s more implied than explicitly stated. (Apparently a fair reading of the law indicates there are several ways to initiate the process — the executive can do it, the NA, or by referendum.) And the TSJ seemed to go with that more literal interpretation. And since the TSJ is, like it or not, the ultimate legal arbiter in Venezuela, Maduro, by initiating the process as he did, was not acting arbitrarily, or by fiat, but within the bounds of the law.

            Another thing, you seem to think that little matter of that “16 year old 2 day coup” is no big deal… like we should just blow it off and let bygones be bygones. But I think it’s a very big deal. And if you’re OK with that, well, maybe you’re not the principled advocate for democratic values you seem to claim you are. And maybe you’re showing your true colors here?

            Part of the problem is that a lot of these people are still at large, completely unrepentant, and continue to pose a threat. I’ve already mentioned Capriles and Lopez and their involvement in the 2002 coup as well as violent street protests in more recent years. In the case of Lopez his arrest in 2014 had to do with a plot called “La Salida”, “The Exit”, which was intended on overthrowing the government. Antonio Ledezma, another participant in the 2002 coup, was involved in what became known as the “blue coup” part of the evidence for which was a cache of weapons, including Molotov cocktails, grenade-like explosives and gas masks. And Lopez, Ledezma,, and another 2002 coup plotter Maria Corina Machado, also signed a document for a “National Transition” — apparently a precursor for a coup as well, in this case owing to, in particular, Lopez’s U.S. connections, one in which the U.S. was heavily implicated. Here in the U.S. they depict these people as peaceful advocates for change, and persecuted political prisoners, almost saintly figures. But as you can see, the reality is something completely different — MLK/Gandhi they’re not.. And when they’re banned from political office, this is the reason for it, not because of their political expression — but for insurrection and violence. As mentioned previously, you can imagine what would happen to them if they committed something analogous here in the U.S.. As I said, I doubt they’d even be drawing breath right now.

            And one thing that doesn’t seem to even register a radar blip with you, is U.S. involvement. U.S NGO’s such as USAID and NED, which are well known to serve as a front for what previously was the exclusive province of the CIA until they started outsourcing a lot of these activities (to NGO’s) in the early 80’s, has spent millions in Venezuela, funneling money to right-wing opposition groups such as Machado’s Sumate, for just one example. (And given her track record, it would be pretty hard to portray it as some sort of benign “democracy promotion” activity — as they like to euphemistically refer to it.) And not a word out of you about U.S.. sanctions — both a violation of international and domestic law, unless of course (in terms of domestic law) you actually believe Venezuela poses a threat to U.S. security ROTFLMAO. How Obama could’ve made that statement with a straight face is beyond me Absolutely shameful. But, of course, none of this matters to you. You seem to be perfectly fine with rogue activities, offending laws and norms, international and otherwise. I mean, we should just forget about that little 2002 coup, act like nothing ever happened, right?

            The sad thing is, people don’t see how they’re being manipulated. The reason you’re focusing all this attention on Venezuela right now is that you are being propagandized to do so. If the imperialists here had it in for Honduras right now, for example, you’d be talking about how he (Juan Orlando Hernandez) stacked the Supreme Court in order to allow him to circumvent the constitution and run for another term, how he was shooting people down in the streets, and how the election process is a complete fraud (only in this case it would all be true). But because they’re comfortable with his regime and he serves Washington’s interests, it’s basically swept under the carpet. It’s like a shell game, “look here, not over there.” The type of demonization Chavez/Maduro gets is only reserved for those who are in imperialism’s crosshairs.

            Of course, there is no government on this planet that has attained perfection (especially not ours), and Venezuela is no exception. There are issues. They’ve lost support on the left for caving in too much to the neoliberals, for one thing. But they’ve done a remarkable job of maintaining some sort of democratic structure in spite of being under siege by enemies, foreign and domestic. They’ve dealt with economic sabotage from their oligarchs and economic sanctions from the U.S., and political sabotage from MUD and violent insurrection on the streets — in large part, with U.S. backing. And so I tend to give them a lot of credit for what they’ve done in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

            As far as your OAS report goes, I agree with the Venezuelan government when they call it a “farce.” In the first place, Almagro, who personally commissioned the report is a well known hater of the Bolivarian government. And the panel of so-called “international experts” used to compile the report were all appointed directly by Almagro himself. And the conclusions of the panel were based on testimony primarily from the right wing opposition and leadership of the the street violence they were investigating. And they did none of their investigative work from Venezuela itself citing a purported “incapacity” to visit Venezuela, whatever that’s supposed to mean. And as a matter of fact, The Committee of Victims of the Guarimba, a group that represents victims of the violence of 2014 and 2017 has denounced Almagro in the past for not criticizing the widespread anti-government violence and focusing only on isolated incidents of police heavy-handedness. And of course, we all know the OAS pretty much rubber stamps anything Washington wants it to. So, you know, you could use that OAS report to start a nice bonfire if you want… at least then it would serve some kind of useful purpose.

          • Jason
            June 15, 2018 at 16:45

            Quixotic1. You don’t really have any answers on how a 6th grade educated dictator is going to fix the country do you? You say that his education doesn’t bother you, but if he was going to work at a hospital as a doctor on your children I bet you would have a BIG problem with it. He is simply not qualified to rule. And that is not Elitist. Its common sense…..
            I got news for your my uneducated friend. Army generals have no clue how to refine oil. They have no clue how to work electric power plants. The real qualified people leave the country every day in the face of intolerable living conditions.
            I have more news for you. Venezuela is not going to win an economic war. Ever. Ever. Not one person including Maduro has ever taken an economics class. Period. And blaming someone else hundreds of times real or imagined is not going to cover up the fact that you don’t know what you’re doing.

            I am a big fan of democracy. I don’t want a coup. Chavez did. His coups killed lots of people. I want a real election in Venezuela. One where the government employees are not rigging the machines. No conspiracy. Proven. Read the articles. The makers said so after the fake NCA election.
            There simply is no democracy in Venezuela.
            The Army, CNE, TSJ, AG,and NCA are all Chavista loyalists (fascists). The Army and CNE openly swear loyalty to Madburro. The media has a gun held to their head so they can’t report anything real like the hundreds of thousands of people starving and leaving the country because it’s being run by Pablo Escobar (Madburro). Collectivos Armed militia are rooming the streets at night kidnapping and killing people.Armed by the government. They broke into the NA last year and physically assaulted the legislators. No one was ever arrested. This is not the CIA doing this killing this is all Madburro.
            YOU GET THE PICTURE???? You are supporting the Mafia. If you are a devoted Socialist I can appreciate that, but this is not the fight. These people are not socialists. They are capitalists pretending to be socialists. Stop reading Venezuelan Analysis and Telesur. It’s fake news. Like in Baghdad when the UN tanks were right outside the radio would be telling everyone Iraq is winning the war. I honestly think you should go to Venezuela so you actually know what you are talking about.

    • Lulu
      June 5, 2018 at 12:26

      And the USA? What are they doing? You are obviously on the side of the imperialist oppressors and likely not the Venezuelan people. The USA is far more murderous and devious as they do not even allow opposition names on their ballots.

      • Jason
        June 9, 2018 at 12:59

        I don’t know what you mean by “imperialist oppressors” you will have to elaborate on that one. There are no gringos in Venezuela oppressing anyone. If the people there even see a gringo they would probably rob, kidnap, and kill him. But not because he is a gringo or they think he is responsible for their troubles but because they have no money to buy food.
        Would you call it oppresson if your government invalidated your life savings that you worked all your life for and the only thing you can afford is a government CLAP bag to feed your family? As far the US being murderous I will agree with you, but they are not in Venezuela killing children in the streets. That is Maduro’s job.
        The international criminal court is going to have a trial for Maduro and convict your precious leader of over 8,000 excutions without trial. 18,000 cases of abritary dention that includes, torture, rape, etc.

  9. backwardsevolution
    June 4, 2018 at 22:09

    If you go after corruption, you’re called authoritarian. If you try to help the poor, you’re labelled a socialist. If you refuse to sell off your resources to multinational corporations, you’re called a communist. You really can’t win.

    “When the opposition won the National Assembly elections in December 2015, they had no program to address the dire economic problems facing the country. Instead, they passed an amnesty law for illegal activities some in the opposition had engaged in, such as narco-trafficking, perpetrating coups, and terrorism.”

    Okay, now we’re talking. These guys got right down to the most important business – pardoning themselves. Their concept of “country” is not what’s best for the people as a whole, but how much they can loot and get away with.

    • Jason
      June 9, 2018 at 13:25

      You really have no clue what you are talking about do you? The national budget of Venezuela is controlled by just one person. Your precious leader is going to be convicted for crimes against humanity that include murder, rape, torture, etc.
      As far as the NA is concerned they were striped of all power before they entered the building. And freeing people who protested against the government for basic freedoms does not mean the NA is bad. They did have a plan to fix the country but first they wanted to restore democratic order. Since they were invalidated and then replaced by first the TSJ and now the NCA they never had any chance of trying out any ideas they had.
      The way Venezuela is going a monkey could do a better job runing the country. No offense to monkeys.

  10. F. G. Sanford
    June 4, 2018 at 18:23

    There have been rumors over the years that Saudi Arabia has resorted to pumping seawater into some of its oil fields. This artificially improves extraction rates, and the motive postulated is that this disguises dwindling reserves. Recent antics directed at Yemen and Qatar may be motivated by Saudi designs on untapped resources. The ‘petrodollar’ floats on a sea of Saudi oil production. Libya and Iraq threatened to sell oil in other currencies. Iran is presumably already doing so. There is great interest in exploiting the Golan Heights potential reserves, and the exploration rights have apparently been sequestered by Dick Cheney’s ‘Genie Energy’ company. If Saudi reserves dwindle, and other resources are not developed, the world’s major sources would be Russia, Iran and Venezuela. These would be traded outside the petrodollar. To my mind, preservation of petrodollar hegemony is the motivation behind efforts to threaten and destabilize Iran and Venezuela. Both have been the subject of speculative military intervention. Military action against North Korea seems highly unlikely due to proximity to Russia and China. But a recent geologic assay of the entire world’s reserves of “Rare Earth Elements” is estimated to be 326 million tons. Oddly enough, 216 million of those tons are in North Korea. We’re desperate for an artful deal with North Korea, but not with Iran or Venezuela. It’s probably a good thing Rare Earth Elements aren’t denominated in petrodollars. I don’t think we could handle a three front war. But…if the all-knowing, all seeing planners behind the curtain have decided that the petrodollar is really in jeopardy, they might settle for two. Fronts, that is. By the way, has anybody seen MBS lately?

    • KiwiAntz
      June 4, 2018 at 19:19

      Your spot on FG, it’s the preservation of the US Petrodollar system, that is the key here & all you have to do is follow the money trail? America is using it’s Military power to steal & secure the oil reserves in other Countries, such as the Middle East, plain & simple? America’s mentality & justification for the theft of these resources is that it’s “Our Oil located in your Country” & we will get it by any means at our disposal? As other Countries such as Iran, China, Russia & Venezuela are actively bypassing the US Petrodollar dominance & challenging the US dollar’s Worlds reserve currency status, America is going all out in a last ditch attempt to take on everyone who opposes their hegemonic tyranny by using Trade sanctions (on the World, to both Allies & enemy’s?), Financial Banking Terrorism & Military threats & orchestrated coups or regional Wars to preserve their status quo, but they know that this unfair system is now facing ruin & going to fail & collapse, the World has had enough of the warmongering US & the de-dollarisation writing is already in the wall? Everyone knows it’s coming, like night following day, everyone except the delusional American Govt?

      • mike k
        June 5, 2018 at 08:23

        Pretty right on analysis for a talking Kiwi!

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 4, 2018 at 20:36

      See who has what, and how much of what they have.

      Keep seeing a much big scenario for Venezuela to play in our geopolitical natural resource world. Venezuela got it’s hands full, and I see a covert Western influenced world surrounding Venezuela to make Maduro’s presidency that much worst. I’m not discounting a hegemonic loss, but I’m pointing to Venezuela’s apparent appeal.

      All natural resources should be owned by it’s governments people. A country’s natural resources should not be sold to some outside firm who by building extraction platforms, while putting that natural resource nations leader, or leaders, on the board of the extraction equipment company benefit with profit. The privatization of a nation’s resources is thief committed upon the commons, plain and simple. Now tell me this isn’t a socialist nation, and I will just answer, ‘I know. How’s your water’?

    • Sam F
      June 4, 2018 at 20:56

      Interesting info on NK rare-earth-element resources; someone here noted major Lithium deposits in Afghanistan.
      The “petrodollar” if not mythical in value is doomed by US economic wars, and the sooner the better for us all.
      China is buying Venezuela & Iran oil and perhaps could intervene with treaties to discourage US aggression.
      MBS is widely reported to have not appeared since the April palace shooting, an interesting situation.
      But with the US planning to assist KSA in the Yemen genocide, perhaps he is alive and angry.

      • Toby McCrossin
        June 6, 2018 at 20:12

        China hasn’t been playing nice with Venezuela. It’s refused to renegotiate its debt with Venezuela despite pleas from the Maduro government to do so.

    • backwardsevolution
      June 4, 2018 at 22:41

      F. G. Sanford – I wonder if Dick Cheney got permission from the Syrian government for Genie Energy, or whether the permission came from the little land-grabbing criminals, the Israelis. I somehow doubt whether Assad would have approved the exploration rights.

      I just read yesterday that Rare Earth Elements are abundant all over the world, that they’re not really rare at all. That surprised me, but the article said that what was rare were the amount of countries willing to produce them (because of the pollution). I don’t know who is right.

      I think the countries who have been couped, bombed or sanctioned (Libya, Iraq, Venezuela) would have been quite happy selling in U.S. dollars. What they got upset about was having to allow foreign multinationals in their country siphoning off all of their oil AND taking most of the profits. Gaddafi had been asking for a little more of a share from the oil revenues in order to provide for his people. That was a no-no. I remember reading that several days after Gaddafi’s “murder”, the French and British were in Libya trying to secure deals for Total and some other British company.

      So I think it’s a combination of U.S. dollar hegemony and also wanting foreign corporate ownership of the oil in the ground.

      • Seer
        June 5, 2018 at 03:28

        US controls international banking. Banking rides on top of resources. ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES. The US has backed some of the most despicable rulers/leaders/dictators the world has ever seen, in which case it’s got ZIP to do with “idealism.”

        One of the Forbes clan stated in the early 70s that the US ought to use up everyone else’s oil before using up its own: and this from the clan of capitalism (espousing, essentially, nationalized oil).

        Also: ANIMALS ARE DECEPTIVE; HUMANS ARE ANIMALS (and, if you levy in human hubris, are the clear leaders in the practices of deception [Madison Ave/USG- thank you very much Edward Bernays]).

        • Kiwiantz
          June 5, 2018 at 07:06

          Please don’t insult the poor animals? Animals live in equilibrium with Nature, only taking what they need, out of instinct for survival & never act out of malice? Contrast that with Human’s who kill & exploit their own kind for greed & trash the environment to such a extent that every animal on Earth, including this human animal is facing extinction thanks to climate change? Human’s could learn a thing or two from animals?

          • mike k
            June 5, 2018 at 08:29

            More people should read Derrick Jensen’s excellent book, The Myth of Human Exceptionalism. Animals and even plants have a lot more smarts going for them than humans wrapped in hubris would like to admit.

  11. mike k
    June 4, 2018 at 17:44

    Venezuela has one big problem – OIL. If you have something the US Mafia wants, then you are on their hit list. Read Perkins’ book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and you will know all you need to know about the US and Venezuela.

  12. Stephen P
    June 4, 2018 at 17:10

    How many American Journalists went to Venezuela and reported fairly on the “shortages”? Abby Martin did

  13. Realist
    June 4, 2018 at 16:43

    Lest America degenerate into another Venezuela, the DHS has provided us with this new service:

    “the Department of Homeland Security has just announced that it intends to compile a comprehensive list of hundreds of thousands of “journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.”, and collect any “information that could be relevant” about them.”

    Don’t you feel safer already?

    • mike k
      June 4, 2018 at 17:40

      It feels a lot more snug, but not in the sense of secure. Unless you think of being in prison as being “secure”.

    • Skip Scott
      June 7, 2018 at 07:29

      See you at the re-education camp!

  14. Realist
    June 4, 2018 at 16:17

    Clearly, Washington opinion is that every world leader should be appointed by the president of the United States and serve at his pleasure. Getting such appointments confirmed by the madcap Congress, which cannot handle even federal judgeships expeditiously, would be another adventure in itself. Now you understand why Putin wants to pick the American president.

    • strgr-tgther
      June 4, 2018 at 20:50

      Putin already did pick him. And this is what we get. Obama was lifting sanctions everywhere, look at Cuba and Iran, etc… no way would he (or Hillary) allow sanctions on a country like Venezuela. And now sanctions are back on in Cuba. (omg)

      • Realist
        June 5, 2018 at 00:34

        The rest of us here are discussing the real world, not your imaginary fantasyland.

        OBTW, you need to learn to distinguish sarcasm from delusion.

      • Seer
        June 5, 2018 at 03:38

        “no way would he (or Hillary) allow sanctions on a country like Venezuela”

        Are you that ignorant to believe that Hillary was somehow a believer in democracy? (the person who, as being at the top of the DNC, oversaw rigging of the US 2016 Democrat primaries?)

        Obama Declares Venezuela A Threat To U.S. National Security

        Clinton Emails Reveal Direct US Sabotage of Venezuela

        Bringing up Putin’s name makes you sound like another Russia Gate dupe.

        Obama lifted sanctions on Cuba (though did it really have any concrete traction- no) as a parting political shot. Was it ever in his “platform” prior to the end of his tenure?

    • anastasia
      June 5, 2018 at 08:59

      Why would Putin pick him? Putin himself said that no matter what campaign promises are made, and no matter how sincere they are, as soon as they take office, it is ALWAYS THE SAME POLICY. He said that several years ago, before this election. Most European leaders say the same thing. Sound like a man bent on interfering in US elections? I just cannot believe there are people who believe this stupid Russian interference story

      • Realist
        June 6, 2018 at 06:08

        What do you not understand about sarcasm? I was making fun of the idiots who claim that Putin interfered in the American elections and somehow forced Trump on the American people.

  15. Drew Hunkins
    June 4, 2018 at 16:16

    Even some of my brethren on the American left are a bit misguided about Venezuela.

    The Washington imperialists have instituted draconian sanctions on Venezuela due to its independent course. The hardships experienced by most of the common folks aren’t something that the Bolivarian revolution deliberately brings forth against its own people. The misery and food insecurity are largely because of Washington’s refusal to countenance an independent nation in the Western hemisphere, ergo, the Washington imperialists along with the corporate mainstream media encircle and virtually embargo Venezuela and then provide a distorted picture to Western audiences of what’s truly occurring.

    Chavez and now the Maduro admin have passed and encouraged policies to increase farming and domestic food production. These efforts can be difficult b/c of past reliance on a petroleum based economy.

    Most of the disgruntled protesters in Caracas who we constantly see in the U.S. news media are generally the college aged children of the relatively affluent upper middle class which is largely white and resents the rising politico-economic power of the majority minority mestizos, etc. The latter have been oppressed and exploited for decades, the Bolivarian revolution is attempting to empower them, this is Maduro’s unforgivable sin in the eyes of the Washington power brokers who have never allowed an independent state in the Western hemisphere to chart its course without heavy interference from the biggest hegemon the globe has ever known.

    The Maduro admin is not perfect and will make mistakes along the way, but at this trying time, they need the support of the American left now more than ever.

    • mike k
      June 4, 2018 at 17:42

      What left?

      • Drew Hunkins
        June 5, 2018 at 10:55

        True, it’s tiny. I was referring to a recent piece by the otherwise excellent Nathan Robinson. He wrote a piece on Venezuela couple weeks ago that was a distortion at best. Robinson’s otherwise fantastic.

    • Sam F
      June 4, 2018 at 21:35

      It does appear that Venezuela is a good test of US oligarchy propaganda, tyranny, and warmongering.
      The US is building forces in Colombia for an attack, and engaged in major election tampering there.
      Truly the US government, corrupted by oligarchy, has long had corrupt intentions everywhere.
      A treaty of defense with Russia or China would certainly be desirable.
      The civilized world must now “contain” the tyrannical US.

    • Seer
      June 5, 2018 at 03:40

      What they need is for the US to stop meddling (as it should do [top doing] everywhere else). Once you start promoting meddling you open the door for ALL to meddle: folks here should understand this through the various subversions carried out by “NGOs.”

      • Seer
        June 5, 2018 at 04:14

        Although NOT about Venezuela, this Tony Cartalucci article pretty much paints the ENTIRE picture of how these things go down:

        “So far – the Western media controls the narrative in nations like Thailand which lack their own English-language media to tell the other side of stories people like James Buchanan and the Guardian intentionally omit – awarding dishonesty with impunity in front of international audiences. “

        • backwardsevolution
          June 5, 2018 at 05:39

          Seer – wow! Thanks for posting.

          • Seer
            June 5, 2018 at 07:06

            Another thing to add is that the CIA’s/Haspell’s activities in Thailand ( occurred during Thaksin Shinawatra’s reign. Clearly, Shinawatra was a favorable puppet by the US/CIA. He got ran out of office by Thailand’s military; it would seem, as per Cartilucci’s article, that Thailand’s military isn’t exactly under US control as the US’s meddling forces are in play to oust Prayut Chan-o-cha:

            Again, this info is provided to better understand the forces being applied in Venezuela: how western media is used to distort information; how NGOs are used to subvert popular governments that are not subservient to western diktats.

            Such pushes could also be in order to help keep skeletons in the closet. When western media cannot control information coming out of a country then that country is able to present damning information (and if not for independent reporting and the Internet would never be seen by the general western populace).

  16. Joe Tedesky
    June 4, 2018 at 16:12

    I’m really appreciative of this article for it’s setting a few things straight. Everyday I see articles claiming the Maduro government as it being a corrupted communist government. I always see American news companies celebrating Maduro’s struggling economy as a good example of socialism as it being a failure.

    What I have always thought is no matter what these foreign governments represent, that the U.S. should mind it’s own business and stay the hell out of these foreign nations sovereignty. Here’s an idea the U.S. could implement, export Mueller to Venezuela, and then let’s see if he can fix Venezuela’s problem with outside the government interference.

    • Drew Hunkins
      June 4, 2018 at 16:24

      Great comment Joe.

      No socialist govt or even nominally socialist leaning admin has EVER been able to independently chart its own way WITHOUT the interference of the Washington militarist-imperialists. Be it Chile and Allende, Brazil under Goulart, Guatemala and Arbenz, Cuba under Castro and a couple of others I’m forgetting at the moment — the minute they expressed an interest in nationalizing some Western backed exploitative industries, or put their foot down on regional imperial ambitions, or provided populist economic reforms that offered the threat of a good example to other oppressed folks in the Caribbean, Central America or South America; that is always when the harassment by the Washington power establishment kicked into high gear.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 4, 2018 at 21:12

        It’s like the one neighbor turns their other neighbors kids against them, then scandalize this neighbors good name cause a divorce, the house goes at a give away price, and the neighbor who instigated his neighbors downfall knocks the house down to put in a gmo garden. Happens all the time where ever USA democracy and freedom go.

        Good comment Drew. Joe

      • Skip Scott
        June 7, 2018 at 07:25

        Mossadegh was ousted from Iran for the same reason. Nationalizing profits from your own natural resources to better the lives of the citizenry is cause for immediate demonization. Venezuela will continue to be spanked until they let go of their oil money.

    • Realist
      June 4, 2018 at 16:24

      Well, America’s power elite is totally incapable of fixing any of the problems facing the United States and its own citizens (in fact, they always make them worse), so they’ve volunteered to extend their exceptional services to the rest of the world. Mighty magnanimous, no? Not even any need to ask these do-gooders for their input. Such a deal.

    • Seer
      June 5, 2018 at 03:45

      I wrote some big western news agency complaining that they always slanted reporting on Venezuela, referring to “Chavez” as socialist, that they should apply the same to all other leaders: at the time it was GW Bush- I asked why not refer to his administration as “right-wing” or “capitalist”? Herein lies a perfect example of what Robert Parry was telling us, that the MSM is lying to us via omission.

      • Seer
        June 5, 2018 at 04:16

        Ugh, I’d meant to post this reply here (rather than above):

        Although NOT about Venezuela, this Tony Cartalucci article pretty much paints the ENTIRE picture of how these things go down:

        “So far – the Western media controls the narrative in nations like Thailand which lack their own English-language media to tell the other side of stories people like James Buchanan and the Guardian intentionally omit – awarding dishonesty with impunity in front of international audiences. “

        • Joe Tedesky
          June 5, 2018 at 09:04

          Seer thanks for sharing, and it is great to find others like you who see things forvwhat they are, and not another duped believer in made up reality’s. Joe

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