Regime Change Made in the USA

Trump’s backing of Juan Guaidó’s shadow government could weaken the opposition’s longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans, writes Steve Ellner.

By Steve Ellner
NACLA

Since its outset, the Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalized its positions. In the process, the Venezuelan opposition has become more and more associated with—and dependent on—Washington and its allies. An example is the opposition protests that occurred last week. The actions were timed to coincide with the European Union’s ultimatum,” which stated they would recognize the shadow government of Juan Guaidó if President Nicolás Maduro had not called elections within a week’s time.

The opposition’s most radical sectors, which include Guaidó’s Voluntad Popular party (VP) along with former presidential candidate María Corina Machado, have always had close ties with the United States. Guaidó, as well as VP head Leopoldo López and the VP’s Carlos Vecchio, who is the shadow government’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, were educated in prestigious U.S. universities—not uncommon among Latin American economic and political elites. The ties between the opposition and international actors are strong: last weekend, Vecchio called the campaign to unseat Maduro “an international effort.” At the same time, Guaidó, referring to opposition-called protests, stated “today, February 2, we are going to meet again in the streets to show our gratitude to the support that the European Parliament has given us.” In doing so, Guaidó explicitly connected the authority of outside countries to his own assumption of leadership.

The outcome of Washington’s actions is bound to be unfavorable in a number of ways, regardless of whether or not they achieve regime change. Most importantly, a government headed by Guaidó will be perceived both by Venezuelans and international observers as “made in U.S.A.” Further, the opposition’s association with foreign powers has enabled the Maduro leadership to keep discontented members of the Chavista movement in their ranks.

A Hands Off Venezuela protest in London in 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr)


“Hands Off Venezuela” protest in London in 2018. (Socialist Appeal/Flickr)

Furthermore, Venezuelans will perceive any sign of economic recovery under a Guaidó government as made possible by aid, if not handouts, from Washington, designed to discredit Maduro’s socialist government, though such assistance will undoubtedly be used to further U.S. economic and political interests. In fact, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has indicated that he is already calling on oil companies to opt for investments in Venezuela once Maduro is overthrown. As he told Fox News, “we’re in conversation with major American companies now… It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

Washington Dictating Strategy

Either explicitly or implicitly, Washington is dictating strategy, or at least providing input into its formulation. One of the challenges the opposition faces is the need to demonstrate to rank-and-file Venezuelans that the current offensive against Maduro will be different from the disastrous attempts of 2014 and 2017, when anti-government leaders assured protesters that the president would be toppled in a matter of days. The opposition leadership claims that this time is different for two reasons. First, the regional Right turn has deepened, and the opposition is more able than ever to rely on decisive support from Washington and other governments, regardless of how democratic they are—see the neofascist credentials of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

Second, the opposition is counting on the backing of military officers, particularly lower-ranking ones who have allegedly lost patience with Maduro. In addition to some defections, junior officers attempted to stage a military coup just two days before mass opposition protests on Jan. 23 when Guaidó declared himself president. Previously, the Venezuelan opposition expressed a degree of contempt for military officers for their unwillingness to defy the Chavista government. The opposition’s new perspective dates back to Trump’s three meetings with military rebels and his statement, made alongside President Iván Duque of Colombia in September of last year, that the Maduro government “could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that.” The U.S. effort to encourage the military to step in was again made evident on Wednesday in a tweet by John Bolton.

Recently, Guaidó made a similar offer to military officers, implying continuity and closeness between Washington and the shadow government.

Also noteworthy is that Guaidó and other VP leaders are closer to Washington than the rest of the opposition. The Wall Street Journal reported that Guaidó consulted Vice President Mike Pence the night before his self-proclamation as president on Jan. 23. According to ex-presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski the majority of the opposition parties were not aware of Guaidó’s intentions and in fact did not support the idea.

Calling on Military

To make matters worse, the VP-led opposition is openly working hand-in-glove with Washington. Last week Guaidó announced that he would attempt to transport humanitarian aid the United States has deposited on the Colombian and Brazilian borders into Venezuela. He called on the Venezuelan military to disobey orders from the Maduro government by facilitating the passage of goods, while Maduro ordered it blocked. While playing political benefactor, Washington was clearly manipulating the optics of the situation to discredit Maduro and rally more international support for Guaído. In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be depoliticized.

Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo at inauguration ceremony of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Brasilia; Jan. 1, 2019. (State Department)

Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo at inauguration ceremony of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Brasilia; Jan. 1, 2019. (State Department)

Opposition leaders and the Trump government are also working together to isolate Venezuela economically throughout the world. Julio Borges, a leading member of the opposition, has campaigned to convince international financial institutions to shun Venezuelan transactions and has urged Great Britain to refuse to repatriate Venezuelan gold stored in London. President Maduro has responded by calling on the attorney general to open judicial proceedings against Borges on grounds of treason. Along similar lines, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are currently attempting to convince international business interests to deny the Venezuelan government access to national assets in their possession.

The Trump administration’s blatant and undisguised interventionism may in fact backfire and help Maduro counter his sagging poll numbers, which last October the polling firm Datanálisis reported was 23 percent. Maduro recently lashed out on Twitter at the close nexus between Washington and the opposition, saying “Aren’t you embarrassed at yourselves, ashamed at the way every day by Twitter Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo tell you what you should do.”

Cornerstone of Chavista Movement

Anti-imperialism is, of course, a major cornerstone of the Chavista movement, born from resentment of U.S. interventionism and heavy-handedness that had for decades controlled many of Venezuela’s resources and dictated its economic policies. The maneuvers of the Trump administration and its allies only double down on this narrative, and are counterproductive at best when it comes to solving the crisis. Their actions also risk fanning the flames of anti-Americanism throughout the continent. It wouldn’t be the first time: In 1958, then-Vice President Richard Nixon was attacked by a riotous crowd in Caracas, and a decade later Nelson Rockefeller’s fact-finding tour arranged by then-President Nixon faced off with angry disruptive protests. Both incidents were responses to Washington’s self-serving support for regimes that came to power through undemocratic means, in some cases with U.S. involvement.

In its strategy towards Venezuela, Washington is invoking not only its Cold War policy but the Monroe Doctrine and its view of Latin America as the U.S.’ “backyard,”—a claim that is especially anathema throughout the region. Indeed, Pence told Fox News, in answering a question about why Trump is withdrawing troops from Syria and Afghanistan while intervening in Venezuela: “President Trump has always had a very different view of our hemisphere. He’s long understood that the United States has a special responsibility to support and nurture democracy and freedom in this hemisphere and that’s a longstanding tradition.”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump appointed neocon Elliott Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela. As a longtime U.S. diplomat, Abrams has in many ways personified the application of the Monroe Doctrine with his blatant disregard for human rights violations and the principle of non-intervention in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador in the 1980s and his alleged involvement in the 2002 coup against Hugo Chávez.

Eliott Abrams, 2011. (Miller Center Forum via Flickr)

Eliott Abrams, 2011. (Miller Center Forum via Flickr)

Finally, Trump’s decision regarding CITGO, a U.S.-based company owned by Venezuela’s state oil company, speaks to a dangerous precedent. Last week he declared that jurisdiction over CITGO would be turned over to the shadow government, and appealed to other countries to follow similar steps. While condemning anti-democratic actions and fraudulent elections in Venezuela, these sanctions ignore the rule of law. The Maduro government was never given the opportunity to defend itself and legal procedures were not followed. 

It is always a dubious exercise to guess at Trump’s intentions. His actions in Venezuela could be designed to divert attention from the multiple probes into his own unethical behavior, or they may be a way to draw attention away from the utter fiasco of U.S. interventions in the Middle East, from Libya to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Trump may also view his Venezuela policy as a quick fix to Make America Great Again. Along similar lines, Trump evidently sees the downfall of the Maduro government as the ultimate proof that socialism doesn’t work. He indicated as much in his State of the Union address when he used the topic of Venezuela as a springboard for declaring: “We are born free, and we will stay free… America will never be a socialist country.”

Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement. Second, it attaches a “made in U.S.A.” label to those positioned to govern should Maduro fall. The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern. Third, the appeal to the military to save Venezuela has terrifying implications for a continent with a long history of military rule. And finally, the seizure of Venezuelan assets, which have then been turned over to a political ally, violates sacred norms of property rights, and in the process erodes confidence in the system of private property. These four considerations are an indication of the multiple adverse impacts that the Trump administration’s rash approach to the Maduro government will have on the United States, Venezuela, and the rest of the region.

Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela’s University of the East, a long-time contributor to NACLA: Report on the Americas, and currently associate managing editor of Latin American Perspectives. Among his over a dozen books on Latin America is his edited “The Pink Tide Experiences: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings in Twenty-First Century Latin America” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

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67 comments for “Regime Change Made in the USA

  1. Mark Thomason
    February 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    “the opposition’s longstanding support among the majority of Venezuelans”

    The opposition has always had support of only a minority.

    That is because it represents the racist plutocrats who immiserated the bulk of the population of Venezuela, leaving them without schools or doctors, illiterate and with short life expectancy, while the wealth went to only a very few, and was largely moved offshore.

    Maduro may be incompetent, but it is a contest with racist plutocrats, not with good government. Who do you think is supported by the likes of Bolton and Trump? Good guys? Where? When? None, and never, and not here either.

  2. Robert
    February 18, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Venezuelans can now watch as Trump takes a different approach toward Haiti, where the population knows all about poverty and corruption.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    February 17, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    This usage of the word socialist by conservatives to label anything they don’t agree with has become tiresome. The most socialistic activities in American are those activities rubber stamped by congress to prop up failing banks with corporate socialism and feed the entire defense industry with a study diet of sole source no bid contracts. The congress has failed at its oversight of the industry because of the fulcrum of undue influence of the defense industry’s lobby on greedy of members of congress. The pay and play rule.

    The bipartisan support of all things military smacks of the same bipartisan support of Israel. The fix is in and it requires congress submit to the will of those two lobbies. Socialism, the poor in the U.S. should have it so good. It is a National disgrace.

    Ilhan is accused of making an ad hominem attack on Mr. Abrams. This charge by Mr. Grassely clearly illustrates what is wrong with pardons and the comfort and ease with which this effort, initially was used to right actual judicial wrongs, has become an institutionalized obstruction of justice. The DOJ itself has now become tainted by condoning the practice, see Mr Barr’s resume’. Group think in the U.S. congress, professional politicians become active agents in the systematic undermining of congressional oversight because they refuse to acknowledge the damage it does to justice. Why because they all would like to have the protection of the pardon themselves. When do we have to declare enough is enough?

    “it probably could be shown by the figures and facts that these is no distinctly American criminal class except congress. ” Mark Twain; “Wit and wisecracks”. p 41.

    A heart felt thank you to a resting Bob Parry, let us not let him down.

    • Josep
      February 20, 2019 at 12:27 am

      This usage of the word socialist by conservatives to label anything they don’t agree with has become tiresome.

      Indeed. I’ve seen some Americans use this same tactic to denounce the metric system*, soccer, universal healthcare, and mass transit. Especially the first three. Both the metric system and soccer existed before Karl Marx ever walked on this Earth, let alone created socialism. Japan even has universal healthcare, and I do not remember seeing the same Americans call it “socialist”.

      *Isn’t it ironic that the first English-speaking country to go with a decimal currency system ($1 = 100 cents = 10 dimes = 1000 mills) continues to use non-decimal measurements based on the body parts of a long-deceased English monarch? Did we not declare independence from Britain in 1776?

  4. Alois Mueller
    February 15, 2019 at 3:37 am

    Thats the way the big ball bounces:
    A bridge made a career this weekend. Almost all German mass media used images of La Tienditas Bridge on the Colombian-Venezuelan border to visualize the conflict between the “good” opposition representative Guaidó and the “evil” President Maduro. The former wants to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” by aid deliveries, while the latter prevents this by blocking the same bridge. A “beautiful” story, which unfortunately is not true. The La Tienditas Bridge has been blocked since 2016 – by Colombia, to fend off Venezuelan refugees. Incidentally, the meme from the barricaded bridge was widely distributed by US Secretary of State Pompeo. Although it has been known since Saturday that it is a propaganda duck, German media have not yet distanced themselves from their misreporting. By Frederico Füllgraf and Jens Berger.

    “The Venezuelan people are desperately in need of humanitarian aid. The United States and other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking shipments of tankers and shipping containers. The Maduro Regime MUST MAKE SURE THAT HELP REACHES THE HUNGERNING PEOPLE #EstamosUnidosVE (We’re United Venezuela) ”

    This lamentation seemed to tweet ex-CIA chief and acting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the early morning of last February 6 in the global network. But not Pompeo’s scare tactics, but the photo placed underneath was already circulated the next day by the BBC and almost all US commercial media and showed worldwide impact.

    La Tienditas: semiotics of a political fake news

    In the picture we see the international La Tienditas Bridge over the Táchira River on the Venezuelan-Colombian border. The photo undoubtedly radiates a somewhat ghostly look: all three lanes are barricaded with two transversal shipping containers and one tank trailer. An updated version of the picture also shows patrolling Venezuelan soldiers. On closer inspection, however, the waking eye recognizes two crucial image contents. On the one hand, the perspective: The photograph was taken from Colombian territory. On the other hand, those cement blocks and wire racks in this area.

    This is also very evident in the ZDF Today report from 7 February. If you look closely, you will also recognize the emblems on the frontier uniforms in this report. They are members of the Colombian “Policia Nacional”. However, this is not mentioned in the report. On the contrary, it gives the impression that the barricades are on the Venezuelan side and Venezuelan border guards would enforce the blockade.

    Anyone who has even dealt with superficially semiotics – the sign processes in culture and nature, as image, word, language and gesture content examined – the or the striking that in Pompeo’s Tweet and its diverse Medienkolportage the Venezuelan container along rusty tank trailer declared the center of the image, the obstacles on the Colombian side but were hidden by the “reporting”. Why? Because the Colombian concrete blocks and wire racks represent the elements of the actual and first bridge blockade. The Venezuelan container and tank trailer are the result.

    This learns the suspicious and stubborn researcher from a message issued in the border town of Cúcuta Colombian regional newspaper La Opinión on 5 February 2016. The wondered three years ago that the million dollar bridge to the “white elephant” had degenerated, in good German: for which Katz was built. “The $ 40 million that Colombia and Venezuela spent on building the international Tienditas Bridge linking Norte de Santander to Táchira has not paid off,” the report said.

    The plant, designed for the integration of Colombia and Venezuela, consists of three parallel bridges 240 meters long and 40 meters wide, designed to relieve the overflowing Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander bridges. A transit of up to 10,000 vehicles per day was planned. “According to Colombian Invias Motorway Director Jesús Vergel, the bridge is completed on both sides, but the green light to start operations is of course a matter for the State Department,” said La Opinión.

    But the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently switched to “permanent red”: The bridge was never inaugurated. In 2016, traditional commuter traffic increased and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans across the border began. The phenomenon grew into a crisis, heating up the minds of both governments to the point of deterring the Venezuelan emigre, the Colombian government had concrete blocks and wire racks set up on the middle of the bridge.

    Of these backgrounds, however, is in the coverage of the German media, but nowhere talked. For example, ZDF-Heute reports that Maduro “blocked” the bridge to block the auxiliary leases. How can you “block” a bridge that has been blocked for three years and has never been open anyway? And why do not the Americans actually transport their “relief supplies” via one of the four other border bridges? Of course, such questions can only ask who questions the American version of the story. However, German media do not do this habitual.

    Donald Trump’s “Bridge over the Kwai”

    However, the media exploitation of La Tienditas is not exhausted in Mike Pompeo’s Tweet. It is complemented by the photo of Donald Trump’s security adviser John Bolton, Casus Belli, who at the end of January demonstratively held out to journalists his notepad with the sibylline phrase “5,000 troops to Colombia” (see picture).

    The checkmate train Marco Rubio thought he had landed with a tweet posted on February 9, when he wrote: “By blocking aid to the Venezuelan people #Maduro is committing a crime against humanity – With the blockade of aid to the people of Venezuela commits #Maduro a crime against humanity “. In order to avert crimes against humanity, a declaration of war is always allowed – NATO asserted this when it proclaimed the Balkan war against Serbia, destroyed Yugoslavia and split it into at least five small states.

    The strong Tobak Rubios with allusions of Pompeo and Bolton pursues all the semiotic signs of the goal, the so-called “humanitarian aid” to politicize and hochzustilisieren war – in an emergency, the border to Venezuela “go up”, as in David Lean’s film adaptation of Pierre Boulles War Classic “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. “I have the feeling that we will see much more of this bridge in the news in the coming days,” wrote computer scientist Justin Emery on 8 February in the portal Medium.

    The Americans were also noticed some inconsistencies on the distributed by Rubio, Pompeo & Co. photo for the heated coverage. “I do not want to go into the situation in Venezuela itself, but the state of media coverage and the lack of any control over US propaganda in relation to Venezuela …” Emery warned, also quoting Pompeo’s pertinent tweet, examining inter alia. Pompeo’s rambling coverage of the BBC, CNN and Independent – all calling for the immediate “opening of the bridge” – led to meticulous image analysis.

    “The Venezuelan government of controversial President Nicolas Maduro has blocked a bridge between Venezuela and Colombia, Colombian government officials and a CNN photojournalist report. What is the nature of these reports? What did they leave out? “Emery wondered. With another critical examination of the photo one could assume that Venezuela in fact only a few days ago dragged the container there and put it across the lanes.

    But something does not fit into the picture – in the picture of Pompeo and Rubio. Emery also stands out, as the Colombian La Opinión announced three years ago: “It looks like the fence was erected in front of the containers of Colombia. The fence posts are on the Colombian side and on the Colombian side of the fence are four concrete blocks. So, was the bridge really blocked by Venezuela or was it blocked by Colombia long ago? ”

    Emery goes into detail. “Fortunately, we can capture the Tienditas Bridge on Google Maps: Does not the picture look familiar? A fence with blocks of concrete blocks the bridge “, the American wonders and switches to a section of the photo. It was uploaded in June 2017.

    The Tienditas Bridge, which has been reported in the media as being blocked by Venezuela, has actually been suspended for at least 18 months! “The meanwhile known ‘rusty gate’ was there the whole time. It is completely wrong to claim that Maduro has ‘blocked’ the bridge this week, that it has to be ‘reopened’, “the Liberal American indignant, wondering,” Is the media lying to us? Is not there a single mainstream journalist who is more interested in research? I suspect a combination of both … “.

    So how is a bridge to be “reopened” that has never been opened and in operation, let alone been inaugurated? And when will the media correct their false reporting and finally take a look behind the scenes to reveal whose interests these fake news

  5. February 13, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Lunatics are running the country, aren’t they? Bolton, Pompeo, Trump and the rest of the neocon gangsters.

    https://opensociet.org/2019/02/13/pussy-john-bolton-and-his-codpiece-mustache-examining-the-freak-show/

    • Paul Cohen
      February 14, 2019 at 8:55 am

      It’s pretty clear that Trump does not much listen to people in his State Department or any other official government department organized to advise the President. Mostly he gets his advice from FOX News and other talking heads who don’t really apply much knowledge or comprehension but who are motivated to make outrageous claims that will drive up ratings.

      Whether this is lunacy or something worse is up to interpretation.

      • N Dalton
        February 15, 2019 at 2:00 am

        A more reasonable logic is becoming very much clear to see which `It’s pretty clear that Trump does not much listen` except to
        `other official government department organized to advise the President` with obvious connections to Israel ruling leadership!

  6. February 13, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Obviously the plan is to destroy Venezuela economically first, then overthrow it, perhaps militarily. This is StOP for the United States. It is literally in the Army Manual of how to take over the world, which you can find here:

    http://opensociet.org/2019/02/12/leaked-wikileaks-us-military-coup-manual-reveals-use-of-imf-world-bank-as-unconventional-weapons

  7. Anne Jaclard
    February 12, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Funny how after all the propaganda and economic war Maduro continues to have a higher approval rating than the US Congress, Emmanuel Macron, and Theresa May

    • Anne Jaclard
      February 12, 2019 at 10:32 pm

      Not leaving out the faux-popular “centrist” extreme iberal people’s vote Lib Dem’s (less than half of Maduro’s rating) and Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Beto O Rourk’s polling numbers COMBINED

  8. February 12, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    War in Venezuela is unnecessary. War anywhere on Earth is unnecessary. War – particularly illegal war of aggression – is devolution and ignorant of the sacred web of life which connects all people, all life and all things. Nobody but the psychotic would wish for an unnecessary, harmful to millions of innocents, unwise action such as war. War is the territory inhabited by the insane.

    Peace.

  9. Bart Hansen
    February 12, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    The photo of Abrams was taken at nearby University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Workers there relate how the smell of sulphur on that podium persists to this day.

    • Linda Jansen
      February 13, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      lol

  10. rosemerry
    February 12, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Please must we have the photos of those unfortunately easily recognised but ugly people!!!Bolton, Pompass and his wife, Elliot Abrams must by now be known to us too well to need reminding!!

  11. mike k
    February 12, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    test

  12. mike k
    February 12, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    The Venezuelan plot is the kind of stupid things an Empire does in it’s dying days.

  13. Joe Tedesky
    February 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    As long as Democrats combine raising taxes along with how they present socialist reforms to improve the conditions of the citizens who are left behind the Republicans will retain the White House as well as their dominating other government branches. I would suggest the Democrats appeal to alerting the country’s voters that the Pentagon is the real spending problem and, that a reduced DOD Budget should be a priority before any new spending is brought forward. I’d also advise the Democrats to lose the ‘Socialist’ theme and proclaim their liberalism in the spirit of FDR.

    As far as Venezuela goes the USA should mind its own business. What we Americans should ask is, who is going to pay for all of Venezuela’s dirty crude and, at what price will USA military involvement cost to regime change in Venezuela will the American tax payer pay?

  14. Taras 77
    February 12, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Provides info that that the thugs pompeo, bolton, and abrams intend to crank it up-indeed astonishing but not surprising (conclusion does seem a tad weak, however, military intervention may occur).

    http://thesaker.is/u-s-is-setting-ground-for-military-intervention-in-venezuela/

    • Hank
      February 12, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      The bottom line in all this is the Venezuelan people! While Americans are force-fed a steady diet of lies and propaganda to facilitate in their minds a war on Venezuela, the fact remains forever so that the Venezuelan people themselves KNOW the truth that no mainstream media can hide from them. They will ALWAYS be the main factor in the future, regardless of what plays out now. Jim Morrison exposed himself onstage in Miami ALLEGEDLY while singing for The Doors. What the USA is doing now and has been UNASHAMADELY doing since WW2 is exposing its darker side without shame, knowing perhaps that in the end the bigger arsenals(balls) hold more weight. Jungle civility.

      • OlyaPola
        February 13, 2019 at 8:55 am

        “knowing perhaps that in the end the bigger arsenals(balls) hold more weight.”

        One of the significances of the withdrawl from the INF treaty is that some, but not all, of the practitioners “acting for on behalf of The United States of America” “know” that bigger arsenals do not hold more weight, hence their increasing efforts in “low yield atomic weapons”, and delopment of other strategies de-emphasising the nuclear option including, but not limited to, “regime change through multi-disciplinary teams”.

        Regime change through multi-disciplinary teams is not a step-change in itself, but many of the opponents believe that levels of integration predicated on developing mathematical models not limited to the spatial which are simultaneously being developed in co-operation with the IDF, do represent and facilitate a step-change – the beliefs of opponents remaining a land of opportunity.

        The CIA and the US Department of Defense contain a spectrum of opinion, the “opinions” of politicians form a less extensive spectrum of less informed “opinions” with greater assay of the big balls/more is better persuasion.

        • Andrew Thomas
          February 13, 2019 at 5:40 pm

          I assume that the mashup of unintelligible jargon you posted was meant to be ironic. I sure hope so.

  15. george mcglynn
    February 12, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Why does the U.S. Government hate the Government of Venezuela?
    Because Venezuela has the greatest oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue independently to improve the quality of ordinary lives. And because Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by a historically rapacious U.S. The U.S. has been the undeclared enemy of social progress in Latin America for two hundred years. The U.S. will not tolerate countries with governments and cultures that put the needs of their own people first and refuse to promote or succumb to U.S. demands and pressures. What is inexcusable is Venezuela’s political independence, only deference by the U.S. is acceptable.

    • Peter RV
      February 12, 2019 at 4:46 pm

      The main reason for so much hatred may not even be oil ! Hugo Chavez broke diplomatic relations with- Israel, over its massacre in Gaza (when USA MSM went apeshit over such a blatant anti- semitism!). Very likely this is why Trump appointed Elliot Abrams as ‘saviour ‘ of venezuelan democracy. Jews like to get even.

      • OlyaPola
        February 14, 2019 at 4:13 am

        “The main reason for so much hatred may not even be oil !”

        As you appear to be aware the expectation/frame of prime and/or sole causation/motivation is a form of blindness.

        Another form of blindness is restricted focus, whether that be focus on a particular geographical place or particular social relations including their facilitating ideologies, or on particular methods derived from these ideologies.

        A further form of blindness is a function of the expectation that others perceive and evaluate in emulation of you.

        One of the potential reasons formed the basis of Domino Theory during the “Cold War” which was never cold.

        Some in the temporary social relations presently self-described as “The United States of America” perceive others as existential threats; Venezuela merely representing a potential existential threat as part of a panoply of existential threats.

  16. jaycee
    February 12, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    The intention behind the pressure directed at Venezuela is quite clear: the current government is being told to resign and hand power over to a selected member of the opposition. To advance this strategy, various degrees of, frankly, organized crime style threats of punishment or positive inducement are daily publicized, iterated by US public officials. The government-in-waiting is supposedly preparing new elections, at least that’s wha they say – but Guaido’s representative in Washington told reporters last week that such elections might happen by the end of the year, maybe not, but a new government’s priorities would be changing the structural underpinnings of the country’s economy. So the new government will be installed and will swiftly dismantle all of the popular programs instituted by the Chavistas over the past twenty years. That is, a political platform which has lost elections consistently for these past twenty years will be engaged without popular mandate, and before any new elections will be permitted. That’s a coup, not a restoration of democracy.

  17. February 12, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    “Yet regardless of short-term results of U.S. support for Guaidó, the final outcome will be negative. There are a number of reasons why: first, it bolsters the position of the most radical elements of the opposition led by the VP party, thus contributing to the fragmentation of the anti-Chavista movement.”

    How is this particular result a negative? This would be nothing but magnificent. The anti-Chavista movement is filled with racists, imperial collaborators, puppets, quislings, and wealthy exploiters.

  18. Mike Perry
    February 12, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    It’s a great article. I want to thank CN, because I feel that Steve’s conclusions and his predictions are excellent.

    But like anyone, I always hate to show my ignorance’s, and do I have to admit that I need some help. In this case my ignorance has to do with the word sanction.

    For instance (… to name just a few…):
    1- In order for the U.S. to legally implement sanctions, it declared “..a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”. … What, and where was this evidence provided, and was it conducted under fair hearings with both sides represented?
    2 – How does a State seize the property of another State when no trial has been conducted?
    3 – Isn’t this punishing victims (34 million in this case) who have committed no crime?
    4 – Did countries like England, France, Germany, etc., provide any proof of “emergency”, in order to wholesale deny it’s own citizens the right to free markets (.. let alone, Venezuelans)?
    5 – Since, sanctions only have significant (wmd) impact when they are implemented by empires, does a collective body like the U.N., (that I assume) is suppose to represent every country, want to touch sanctions with a forty foot pole?
    6 – … What about that “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement” with Israel?

    I could go on & on with many more questions.. But, I know that most here can dissect this word “sanction” much better than I. .. And, I wish you would.

    This is from 2014:
    http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2377482&CategoryId=10717
    “President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. The targeted sanctions in the E.O. implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, which the President signed on December 18, 2014, and also go beyond the requirements of this legislation.
    ..
    “We are committed to advancing respect for human rights, safeguarding democratic institutions, and protecting the U.S. financial system from the illicit financial flows from public corruption in Venezuela,” the White House said.
    ..
    We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government’s efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela’s problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent. We have consistently called on the Venezuelan government to release those it has unjustly jailed as well as to improve the climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. These are essential to a functioning democracy, and the Venezuelan government has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms. The Venezuelan government should release all political prisoners, including dozens of students, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Mayors Daniel Ceballos and Antonio Ledezma.”

    .. And as I understand it, declaring that “national emergency” — was of course, the legal prerequisite to imposing today’s sanctions..

    Thank You.

    • jaycee
      February 12, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      The declaration of national emergencies is one facet of “executive power” as envisioned by the lawyers Dick Cheney brought into the White House. This allows for policy to be declared and implemented without Congress and without public debate. These theories of executive power have never actually been challenged on Constitutional/ legal grounds, and in fact the W Bush administration several times backed away from an executive power directed policy rather than have it challenged in court. The Democrats, once assuming executive power themselves under Obama, dropped their Constitutional objections to embrace the convenience a wide-ranging executive power concept provided.

    • February 13, 2019 at 2:19 am

      @ “What, and where was this evidence provided, and was it conducted under fair hearings with both sides represented?”

      No evidence was provided. A high Obama administration official, asked by a reporter to explain the threat to the U.S., replied with words to the effect that the finding of a “national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” was made only because the law required that finding in order to impose the sanctions. He waffled severely on whether there was actually a threat. In other words, the finding was made because of the desired result, not because there was any substance to the finding.

      On Trump’s more recent actions against Venezuela, one can with much justification view it as the result of Venezuela’s decision to stop selling oil for American dollars, opting for its own crypto-currency instead. That is a threat to the petro-dollar scheme that props up the value of the dollar. See here for a lucid explanation of the petrodollar Ponzi scheme: http://stormcloudsgathering.com/the-geopolitics-of-world-war-3/

      Nations that decide not to trade oil for the dollar generally have had problems with the U.S. in the last few years. E.g., Iraq, Libya, Iran, etc. Venezuela now faces the wrath of the U.S. banking and oil industries.

      At the geopolitical level, Russia, China, and Iran have been leading a global move away from the petrodollar, trading oil and natural gas for other currencies. As I recall, only about 60 % of oil and natural gas trades are still denominated in U.S. dollars, making the flight from the dollar by the nation with the largest oil reserves in the world (Venezuela) a very big deal for our U.S. oligarchs.

      US President Donald Trump’s hyper-militaristic National Security Adviser John Bolton spilled the beans in an interview on Fox Business, admitting that the United States government is working with corporations to target Venezuela’s massive oil reserves.

      “We’re looking at the oil assets,” Bolton said. “That’s the single most important income stream to the government of Venezuela. We’re looking at what to do to that.”

      “We’re in conversation with major American companies now,” he continued. “I think we’re trying to get to the same end result here.”

      “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton admitted.

      https://grayzoneproject.com/2019/01/29/us-coup-venezuela-oil-corporate-john-bolton/

      You really can’t gauge how big a difference that makes without understanding the petrodollar scheme and the state of play internationally in the de-dollarization economic war between the U.S. and Russia, China, and Iran.

    • Mike Perry
      February 13, 2019 at 11:58 am

      Paul and Jaycee, Thanks So Much! I just think that these sanctions are an all to often common denominator, and that would it benefit us all greatly to learn more about them for the future. Great contributions on both of your accounts!

    • michael
      February 13, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Very little news coverage (relative to the Kardashians, Michelle Obama and “important” news). I wonder if the CIA is suppressing news coverage in line with the ‘new’ Smith Mundt pro-propaganda law?

      https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/08/21/trump-threat-against-venezuela-mirrors-those-bush-and-obama.html

  19. Yahweh
    February 12, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    The “International Financial System” is the new and most deadly “Weapon of Mass Destruction”. This fiat system needs new hosts to continue the great ponzi.

    America has been in the business of mass starvation for many years…..Hello, Madeline Albright !

    American citizens are unable to see past their own financial debt slavery, very sad indeed. Some citizens of the world have labeled America as “The Great Satan”…..Could that actually be true?

  20. bevin
    February 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

    “How does it get more inappropriate, more threatening than American officials contacting members of Venezuela’s armed forces and luring them to revolt?

    “Americans, is this the kind of work you elect your government to perform?”
    It most certainly is. It is precisely the way that President Zelaya was removed, overnight, in Honduras, after the State Department , under Hillary Clinton, had given permission.

  21. Garrett Connelly
    February 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Only three brave congressional representatives voted against the united democratic and republican party war lust directed at Venezuela.

    • Andrew Thomas
      February 13, 2019 at 5:45 pm

      Reminds one of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

  22. Antonio Costa
    February 12, 2019 at 10:46 am

    The UN has recognized the Maduro government as the official administration. This was determined by the UN’s general assembly.

    There is nothing in the Venezuelan constitution that would allow Guaidó (a small time instigator and relatively small opposition party member) to swear himself in as president. This was also confirmed by the Venezuelan high court. Furthermore, after the May election of 2018, the opposition parties signed off on the election results (which were monitored by hundreds on internation observers and declared fair election), Maduro was sworn in, end of story.

    Therefore any negotiation and/or aid must go through the Maduro administration, not Guaidó. This is a covert thug regime change by the US.

  23. torture this
    February 12, 2019 at 10:14 am

    “The stigma would undoubtedly scuttle their chances of maintaining longstanding majority support and in doing so would undermine their authority and ability to govern.”

    Support of the people doesn’t matter in the U.S. because all the avenues to power are largely blocked for anyone except those endorsed by the elites, themselves. So, I doubt that the oligarchs will have any problems in disappearing and murdering anybody who speaks up for ordinary people in Venezuela. What the U.S. does to its own dissenters is anything but democracy.

  24. TomG
    February 12, 2019 at 9:22 am

    So much of this evil fiasco seems to be, as suggested by Mr. Ellner, to distort socialism to such an extent that in the 2020 elections the election charade will be all about ‘what Maduro did for Venezuela (fill in the blank) will do for the great USA. Adam Johnson had a great piece in Truthdig about the media’s complicit role including the coverage of that so-called closed bridge keeping out aid. Worth a read…

  25. Sarge
    February 12, 2019 at 8:44 am

    The Venezuelan people can see clearly what the “pro-democracy” West refuses to.

  26. Sally Snyder
    February 12, 2019 at 8:16 am

    As shown in this article, American intervention to protect its economic interests in South America is not unprecedented:

    https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2019/01/john-bolton-venezuela-and-how.html

    Unfortunately, Washington is incapable of seeing the unintended consequences of its global agenda.

    • OlyaPola
      February 12, 2019 at 10:13 am

      “Unfortunately, Washington is incapable of seeing the unintended consequences of its global agenda.”

      Why unfortunate and why fortunate?

      • Tom Kath
        February 12, 2019 at 7:45 pm

        Exactly Olya! I also resent the idea that it would be better if the US used more subtle or less obvious and offensive methods to achieve its ends. There is nothing unfortunate whatsoever about the resistance to plunder and meddling.

        • OlyaPola
          February 14, 2019 at 9:56 am

          “There is nothing unfortunate whatsoever about the resistance to plunder and meddling.”

          Evaluation is always a function of purpose however defined/perceived.

          Recognition of multi-agency/facility is better to achieve some purposes and “Unfortunately, Washington is incapable of seeing the unintended consequences of its global agenda.” including the subsumption of prime/sole agency/facility, is better to attempt to increase the half-lives of some other purposes thereby facilitating reduction of the half-lives of some other purposes through multi-agency.

          Perhaps the Romans’ notion that “All roads lead to Rome” had utility?

    • Bart Hansen
      February 12, 2019 at 6:25 pm

      And, Sally, I am reminded of the original meaning of the word ‘filibuster’. This is from the Wikipedia entry for that word:

      “The English filibuster was borrowed from Spanish in the 19th century. Originally it applied to pirates infesting the Spanish American coasts, but around 1850 it designated the followers of William Walker and Narciso López, who were then pillaging Spanish colonies in Central America.”

      Who knew that an entire country could filibuster, as we are again doing?

  27. michael
    February 12, 2019 at 7:13 am

    While I am sure that the regime change in Venezuela is a long time in coming (with Trump or not), as evidenced by most of the EU (UK, Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark) ‘instant’ recognition of Guaido, I am curious as to the lack of American politicians at least giving lip service against the coup (has anyone outside of Tulsi Gabbard spoken up?)
    In addition to the albatross of John Bolton around his neck, the neocons have also saddled Trump with Elliott Abrams? There are no decent diplomats/ bureaucrats willing to work (and risk their careers) with Trump?

    • David G
      February 12, 2019 at 11:10 am

      “Three members of Congress, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, have released statements condemning the U.S. action in Venezuela …” https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article225071465.html

      Omar’s statement, quoted in that article, seems pretty strong, like Gabbard’s.

      Khanna apparently still wants to eat lunch with the cool kids in Congress, so he made sure to insult Maduro in his statement: https://m.timesofindia.com/world/us/us-needs-to-stay-out-of-venezuela-says-tulsi-gabbard/articleshow/67694370.cms

      Saint Bernie’s statement was two-thirds State Department talking points, followed by a limp suggestion that the U.S. not support coups in general. Weak, gross, and in line with his whole history of not straying too far from the imperial project. https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-statement-on-venezuela

      Saint Alexandria mostly wants to stay invisible on this topic: https://dailycaller.com/2019/01/24/ocasio-cortez-venezuela-maduro-trump/

      TL;DR: Go, Tulsi!!

    • David G
      February 12, 2019 at 11:26 am

      The inimitable CN commenting system just ate my detailed reply to your question of who else besides Gabbard has spoken up, and won’t let me repost it.

      But the short version is that Rep. Ilhan Omar came out with a decent statement, like Tulsi.

      Rep. Ro Khanna hedged his bets by insulting Maduro while criticizing the coup attempt.

      Saint Bernie came out with something that was two-thirds State Department talking points followed by limp disapproval of U.S. sponsored coups in general. Classic Sanders.

      Saint Alexandria doesn’t want to talk about it.

      As far as I know, everybody else is on board the regime-change express, enjoying the bar car.

      Summary: Tulsi rocks.

      • Tom Kath
        February 12, 2019 at 7:55 pm

        I agree! Tulsi is the only American politician I could possibly be seen in bed with !
        Jokes aside, I DO see her as the only REAL alternative, and despise the entire American population that tries to discredit and demonise her.

        • David G
          February 13, 2019 at 2:52 am

          There’s serious work to be done, so I won’t dwell on it, but the fact that the best looking woman in politics also has the best-looking politics is … not disagreeable.

        • Jen
          February 13, 2019 at 9:40 pm

          Your comment cracked me up! Tulsi is to be admired for her sensible stance on our horrendous foreign policy, for sure. I hope she doesn’t get primaried out of Congress, as there has been talk of. She’s also being ignored in a flagrant way when lists of presidential candidates come up in the media. Not surprising.

          Also, I fear Omar probably has a target on her back now, after her truthful comments regarding the influence of AIPAC. Now she’s openly criticizing war criminal Abrams. (Good for her!).

          It’s very disheartening that only three members of Congress took a brave stand against more regime change. It’s tough (and dangerous) to be a nonconformist these days.

  28. KiwiAntz
    February 12, 2019 at 7:04 am

    Trump & his corrupt Administration with the Troika of morons such as Pompeo, Bolton & Abrams, are the most dangerous bunch of idiots ever to be in power? Hopelessly inept & out of his depth, Trump doesn’t have a clue about Foreign Policy & his stupid Regime change antics are going to blow up in his & his meddling Nations face! This buffoonish Clown is really accelerating America’s downfall & declining Hegemonic power & turning the World away from the corrupt US Dollar, Petrodollar system with other Countries, actively moving away from this tyranny? You know the gig is over when you see Nations such as Russia, China & India & others massively building up their Gold reserves in anticipation of crashing the entire US debt based system & burning it to the ground as this system, based on nothing but a worthless fiat paper currency is backed by no security but thin air? The US is going to end up like Zimbawe with hyperinflation & printing trillion dollar banknotes to buy a loaf of bread? The clock is ticking & the writing is on the Wall for the American Empire, you have sanctioned too many Countries who have had a gutsful of your lawless ways & you have regime changed, one Country to many, with Venezuela & its going to end in your own destruction!

    • Sam F
      February 12, 2019 at 9:35 pm

      Yes, but ironically the downfall of US economic power is the shortest path to restoration of its former democracy. I expect that will be a long, disastrous, and perfectly avoidable chapter of history, which could have been avoided if the US had redesigned its Constitution in the 19th century to protect elections and mass media from economic power, and had not allowed its market economy to continue unregulated. But the ebullient emergence of the middle class from poverty, the apparent counterbalancing of oligarchy by unions, and early control of mass media by oligarchy, made the whole problem invisible, and WWII left oligarchy in complete control.

    • Josep
      February 17, 2019 at 4:06 am

      Russia in particular has also been diversifying its foreign reserves as well, having converted US$100G* to euros**, Japanese yen**, and Chinese yuan.

      (*G = ‘giga’, 10^9, billion)
      (**Yes, you heard that right. At first I was rather surprised with Russia’s choice of euro and yen, since the Eurozone and Japan are still lapdogs of American hegemony unlike China. On the other hand, Saddam Hussein did threaten to sell oil in euros instead of dollars, and got executed because of it. So, by dumping the dollar for the euro, maybe Russia was on to something.)

      The next question is, if the US dollar is to be unseated as the global reserve currency, then what do you believe will replace it aside from precious metals like gold or silver? As one commentator elsewhere notes, the British economy is too small (even without Brexit turmoil), Japanese debt is at least 200% of GDP, and few believe the euro will survive in its current form. This didn’t seem to stop Moscow from going with the last two, but still…

  29. padre
    February 12, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Why would they need a support from the people of Venezuela, they have support from the USA!That is usually enough, and even if it isn’t, they usually make it so!

  30. February 12, 2019 at 5:01 am

    In an apparent rebuke to Washington and Guaidó, UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday insisted that the humanitarian aid be “depoliticized.”

    This inconvenient bit of information is of course never mentioned by our “free” media in Australia who overwhelmingly rely on US footage for its overseas news

  31. February 12, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Yes, and I think nothing we’ve seen from the United States in quite a while generates more just plain contempt for America’s government than this circus over Venezuela.

    Frankly, American officials resemble nothing so much as a gang of drunken sailors standing on a street corner, leering and shouting rude things to every person passing.

    Good God, such open contempt for the rule of law and diplomatic protocol and the very values of democracy from a nation that seems to think it actually sets high standards in the world.

    How does it get more inappropriate, more threatening than American officials contacting members of Venezuela’s armed forces and luring them to revolt?

    Americans, is this the kind of work you elect your government to perform?

    Unless the United States actually decides to invade, which I tend to believe for a few reasons it will not, I think this entire dangerously blundering effort in Venezuela is going to fail.

    The man America opposes is popular, was elected twice, and for anyone reading his statements appears to have a higher standard of honesty than any senior member of the American government.

    Maybe this whole matter will open up a new chapter in relations with other countries.

    I don’t see why others should show any reluctance to butt into America’s internal affairs.

    Speak up. Advertise. Leak. There’s a wealth of embarrassing and really dirty stuff packed away in Washington’s closets.

    It would be a well-deserved reward.

    • OlyaPola
      February 12, 2019 at 10:18 am

      “Maybe this whole matter will open up a new chapter in relations with other countries.”

      Likely not restricted to countries.

      Perhaps if they give a party not all will turn up but a sum of some will not decline the opportunities.

    • Sam F
      February 12, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      It would also be “democracy promotion” in our former democracy.

    • OlyaPola
      February 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      “I don’t see why others should show any reluctance to butt into America’s internal affairs.”

      Perhaps considering that others have better uses for their time and efforts may help?

      There are many opportunities in “exceptionalism” including those derived from others not assigning the “exceptional” the significance that the “exceptional” seek to assign to themselves – or as MSM may be tempted to headline “He’s not that in to you.”

  32. Andre
    February 12, 2019 at 3:03 am

    Regime change number 68 since WWII: the USA will never change or learn, just like a psychopath remians incapable of real learning and will continue to manioulate matters for their own selfish interests, criminal or pseau-legal.

    • David G
      February 12, 2019 at 11:38 am

      Regime not changed yet!

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