Biden Asks Venezuelan Coup Leader to ‘Democracy Summit’

The U.S. president’s invitation to Juan Guaidó, an unelected opposition figure, comes weeks after Venezuelans reelected President Maduro in a contest U.S. legal observers called fair.

Feb. 4, 2020: Juan Guaido after President Donald Trump recognized him as the legitimate leader of Venezuela during the State of the Union address. (White House, D. Myles Cullen)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

U.S. President Joe Biden has invited Venezuela’s right-wing coup leader Juan Guaidó to the United States’ so-called Summit for Democracy — a development that critics say illustrates the “cynical, hypocritical, and completely counter-productive” nature of the upcoming meeting.

On Tuesday afternoon, David Adler, general coordinator of Progressive International, argued during an appearance on Al Jazeera that the Biden administration lacks the credibility to lead an international effort to protect democracy for a variety of reasons, including the United States’ past and present support for authoritarian leaders who further capitalist class interests.

Around the same time, Biden, whose 2020 electoral victory was challenged by a pro-Trump mob and some GOP lawmakers, invited Guaidó, a key player in the unsuccessful Trump-backed effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in 2019, to the Summit for Democracy hosted virtually by the White House from Dec. 9-10.

“Surreal,” is how Adler responded after news broke that Biden had asked Guaidó — an unelected and unpopular opposition figure who participated in a failed coup attempt — to represent Venezuela at an ostensibly pro-democracy gathering, just weeks after Venezuelans reelected Maduro in a contest that U.S. legal observers called fair.

Notably, in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol incident, Maduro’s government issued a public statement that condemned then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s brazen attempt to hold onto power, expressed sympathy for victims of the assault, and criticized Washington for routinely supporting efforts to subvert democracy abroad. 

U.S. lawmakers from both major parties, by contrast, gave Guaidó a standing ovation when Trump, during his 2020 State of the Union Address, erroneously described the self-anointed leader as the “true and legitimate president of Venezuela.”

The U.S. has an extensive history of imperialism, and in his Al Jazeera appearance Tuesday, Adler pointed to its ongoing abuses of power throughout the world, as well as the fact that its policies rarely reflect the will of the majority, to explain why Biden’s summit is “cynical, hypocritical, and completely counter-productive.”

Although U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promoted the Summit for Democracy, he plays a key role in facilitating corruption in countries across the globe, said Adler. “We are the central node, for example, in a network of illegal, kleptocratic finance that passes through our financial system en route to financing those autocratic regimes… rising around the world.”

In addition, Adler questioned why only 100 world leaders were invited to Biden’s table. “We’ve been here before,” Adler said, alluding to the fact that the world was divided into supposedly good and bad camps during the Cold War, with disastrous effects that persist today.

In a co-authored essay published by The Guardian in December 2020, Adler and Stephen Wertheim, deputy director of research and policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, argued that because it is “animated by an antagonistic impulse, the Summit for Democracy is liable to make the world less safe.”

“It risks hardening antagonism with those outside the summit, reducing prospects for truly broad collaboration,” the pair wrote. “The coronavirus, this generation’s deadliest foe to date, pays no heed to whom the U.S. deems its ally or its adversary. The same is true of a changing climate.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during NATO meeting in Riga, Latvia, on Dec. 1. (State Department, Ron Przysucha)

In addition, Adler said Tuesday, the U.S. has a “systematic inability to pick good allies abroad.”

Adler went on to repeat points that he and Guillaume Long, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and former foreign minister of Ecuador, made last month in an essay introducing Progressive International’s new global observatory to defend democracy.

“The Biden administration continues to put the U.S. on the wrong side” of what Blinken has called a “democratic reckoning” in the Americas, the pair wrote in The Guardian.

For example, they noted, Blinken recently “lavished praise” on the right-wing presidents of Ecuador and Colombia, who have engaged in anti-democratic repression. Moreover, the U.S. remains a “leading member” of the Organization of American States, which has facilitated multiple anti-democratic interventions in Haiti and played a decisive role in the far-right coup in Bolivia in 2019.

On top of those foreign policy failures, Adler said Tuesday that Biden’s “betrayed campaign promises” at home exemplify the absence of substantive democracy in the U.S.

Many voters cast ballots for the president based on his pledge to halt the sale of fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters, Adler pointed out, and yet his administration has approved more drilling permits than its predecessors and last month held the largest offshore lease auction in history, just days after vowing at COP26 to address the climate crisis.

And in light of the current barrage of voter suppression laws being enacted and gerrymandered maps being drawn by state-level Republicans nationwide, an annual study published last week for the first time characterized the U.S. as a “backsliding” democracy.

While democracy is under threat in the United States, Biden has yet to make a strong public push for repealing or reforming the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster rule, a prerequisite to passing voting rights legislation.

In their essay, Adler and Wertheim argued that “rather than fixate on the symptoms of democratic discontent — the “populists, nationalists, and demagogues” whom Biden has pledged to confront—his administration should attack the disease.”

“He can start with political and economic reforms to make democratic government respond again to the popular will,” they wrote. “Second, the United States should make peace in the world, rather than wage its endless wars… Finally, the United States should reinvent a system of international cooperation undivided by the ‘democratic’ fault line that the summit seeks to impose.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

12 comments for “Biden Asks Venezuelan Coup Leader to ‘Democracy Summit’

  1. Sam F
    December 3, 2021 at 07:21

    One wonders who the utterly corrupt US oligarchy think they are fooling.
    At some point even the wishful and ignorant wonder what is going on.
    Most know that the US stands only for marketing scams and corruption.
    It has already mortgaged its future generations to a deficit used for theft.
    It’s people are too ignorant to accept redesigned institutions to restore democracy.
    They quibble about masks and gays and never speak of impaired democracy.
    They are too spoiled and cowardly and selfish to rebel for democracy.
    The rotten tree must fall in the forest of democracies, to be recycled, not rebuilt.

  2. Joe Wallace
    December 2, 2021 at 17:41

    In terms of charisma and credibility, Juan Guaidó is right up there with Fielding Mellish.

  3. Em
    December 2, 2021 at 09:56

    Joe Biden, by no small ‘accident’, just happens to be the alpha viper in a systemic nest of snakes the American people ceaselessly continue to delude themselves into believing, is a functioning democracy.
    The proof of the pudding is the venomous disregard his actions show for the progress of a truly open – transparent society, where the words spoken are actually authentic, and the following actions, in deeds, are consonant with the words, and not to the contrary, against the best interests, globally, of all of people they are supposed to be serving.
    Sadly, what else is to be expected, when the very foundations of the country were laid by an elite aristocratic minority.
    A world community, as proposed by the likes of Bill Gates and idealized by one, George Soros, for example, and their billionaire cohort, who have privatized governments globally, is definitely not the one to which this comment is referring.

  4. December 2, 2021 at 09:28

    I hope they invite Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as well. He would be the epitome of US-style democracy.


  5. December 2, 2021 at 09:08

    I think the US imperialists are living in a fool’s paradise! It’s all show designed for the consumption of ignorant, western audiences, who should know better, but don’t. The Global South know what the deal is! It’s a pity we don’t.

  6. James Simpson
    December 2, 2021 at 03:40

    For democracy in the USA to be “under threat” it would have to exist in the first place. Perhaps someone can provide a link to an academic study from a few years ago which showed clearly how in the USA ordinary people have little or no influence on political decisions and policy but that the wealthy are able to dominate and get their own way. That’s known as oligarchy and, unlike many Left commentators who use the term rhetorically, I mean it literally.

    • Joe Wallace
      December 2, 2021 at 17:35

      James Simpson:

      You refer to the Gilens and Page study. I don’t have a link, but it should be easy to find if you google it.

  7. Realist
    December 2, 2021 at 00:43

    Outrageous. The USA is not interested in promoting “democracy.” It only wants its “front man of choice” as titular head of every country on earth. “President” Guaido looks very much like Obama’s clone in those photos. “Boys from Brazil” perhaps?

    Thanks for underscoring the several “democratic” coups around the globe that Washington has fomented. Isn’t it ironic that the same rich and privileged oligarchy which tells us that America must relinquish a monopoly of power by one alleged “race” of insider elites and, instead, embrace some formulaic “diversity” by quota dares to decide what factions and individuals should hold the power in every other country on the planet? Such hypocrisy alone should disqualify anything these people have to say on the matter.

  8. Jeff Harrison
    December 1, 2021 at 21:13

    Please. Senor Guano is a US appointed puppet who has no actual power in Venezuela. His party has very few seats in the legislature. The US remains under the misimpression that it is still a kingmaker in S.and C. America. The US would be well advised to pay more attention to what’s happening at home and less attention to other country’s business.

  9. AndrewNichols
    December 1, 2021 at 18:04

    Utter arrogant vulgarity.

    • Joseph Thomas Wallace
      December 2, 2021 at 17:39

      In terms of charisma and credibility, Juan Guaidó is right up there with Fielding Mellish.

      • Piotr Berman
        December 3, 2021 at 10:05

        In terms of criminality and venality, Juan Guaidó is like an angel compared to “Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi is a Yemeni politician and former field marshal of the Yemeni Armed Forces serving as the president of Yemen since 2012” (Wikipedia quote). So Juan is not the worst pawn of the Empire. But is he worthy to be compared with Fielding Mellish? Here I must object using the immortal words of Mellish himself: “I object, Your Honor! This trial is a travesty! It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two ..” But if we replace “trial” with ” Juan Guaidó” it makes sense.

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