Washington’s Version of Venezuela

The U.S. government believes that the only democratic institution in Venezuela is an assembly that has not met in seven years and whose term has expired, writes Vijay Prashad.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in February 2022. (State Department, Freddie Everett)

By Vijay Prashad
Peoples Dispatch

On Jan. 3, Shaun Tandon of Agence France-Presse asked U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price about Venezuela.

This followed an event in late December, when the Venezuelan opposition after a fractious debate decided to dissolve the “interim government” led by Juan Guaidó.

Since 2019, the U.S. government has recognized Guaidó as the “interim president of Venezuela.” With the end of Guaidó’s administration, Tandon asked if “the United States still recognize[s] Juan Guaidó as legitimate interim president.”

Price’s answer was that the U.S. government recognizes the “only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela today, and that’s the 2015 National Assembly.”

It is true that when the U.S. government supported Guaidó as the “interim president” of Venezuela, it did so because of his role as the rotating president in that National Assembly in 2019.

Feb. 5, 2020: President Donald J. Trump with Juan Guaido at White House. (White House, Tia Dufour)

Since the presidency of the National Assembly rotates annually, Guaidó should have left the position of “interim president” by the end of 2020. But he did not, going against Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution of 1999, which he cited as the basis for his ascension in 2019.

Price said, “The 2015 National Assembly has renewed its mandate.” However, that assembly was dissolved since its term expired and it was replaced—after an election in December 2020 — by another National Assembly.

The U.S. government called the 2020 election a “political farce.” But when I met the leaders of Venezuela’s two historic opposition parties in Venezuela in 2020 — Pedro José Rojas of Acción Democrática (AD) and Juan Carlos Alvarado of Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente (COPEI) —they told me that the 2020 election was legitimate and that they just did not know how to overrun the massive wave of Chavista voters.

The Palacio Federal Legislativo. (Paulino Moran, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Since the members of the 2020 assembly took their seats, the 2015 assembly has not set foot in the Palacio Federal Legislativo, which houses the National Assembly, near Plaza Bolívar in Caracas.

In essence, then, the U.S. government is saying that the real democratic institution in Venezuela is one that has not met in seven years, and one whose political forces decided — against the advice of AD and COPEI — to boycott the 2020 election.

Earlier this month, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro spoke with veteran journalist Ignacio Ramonet.

Maduro told Ramonet that he is “prepared for dialogues at the highest level and with relations of respect.” He hoped that “a halo of light” would reach the office of U.S. President Joe Biden and allow the United States to put its “extremist policy aside.”

Not only did Ned Price refuse this olive branch, but he also said that the U.S. approach to “Nicolás Maduro is not changing.” This is an awkward statement since members of Price’s own government went to Caracas in March and June of 2022 to meet with the Maduro administration and talk about the normalization of oil sales and the release of detained U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile, Tandon’s question hangs over the White House.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and (with Noam Chomsky) The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

This article was produced by Globetrotter.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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14 comments for “Washington’s Version of Venezuela

  1. Anon
    January 12, 2023 at 13:11

    Meanwhile… back at the ol’ Duop Bar Ranch…
    Scarcity of votable candidates who will defend average folks from exploitation:
    Coopted at best… Nonexistent at worst!
    Tnx All!

  2. vinnieoh
    January 11, 2023 at 15:02

    “Rules based order” is just another term for colonialism.

    Those who continue to believe that the US empire establishment is deluded, crazy, or dysfunctional need to shed that naivete. This empire is single-minded, relentless, and remorseless. If they are so whacked, how are they so successful at constantly getting their way?

    The Ukraine conflict was advertised, promoted, and sold, as were the previous two Gulf Wars. Each aggression becomes bolder in the assertion of right by might. Before that the US merely ignored – as quietly as possible – a politically negotiated referendum, and condemned Viet Nam to over two more decades of death and destruction before Vietnamese finally threw off the overt chains of colonialism.

    Venezuela too attempted to throw of the chains of colonialism with the Bolivarian Revolution of Chavez. Theirs was not as “successful”* as Iran’s because unlike in revolutionary Iran, known collaborators (contract administrators, military liaisons, ‘advisors’, and of course high-ranking military officers) were not arrested, condemned, and executed, as happened in Iran. Much of the network connecting Venezuela to US interests was left in place, actively working to reverse the Chavez government.

    If the US should withdraw eventually from Eurasia (merely as a consequence of mounting debt?) I shudder to think of the consequences for the western hemisphere – that which the Monroe charade claims as the realm solely of the US. Here, the Empire’s, frustration, rage, and hatred might fully express itself against the indigenous brown peoples of S.A. and C.A. Tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) have already been murdered in the perennially undeclared war for US hegemony. While fascists (US collaborators?) attempt to overthrow the Brazilian government, Bolsonaro gets medical treatment in the US that I’m sure most US citizens could never afford. This is a bold in-your-face Fuck You! to those who wish that the US could just ‘come to its senses’ or wake up to reality. The reality is that if it is not made to stop, it will continue on thusly. They are fully aware of what they do.

    * – if you can regard more than 40 years of sanctions, political and cultural isolation, and threat of coup, invasion, or war a success.

  3. January 11, 2023 at 13:55

    Thank you, Mr. Prasad, for yet another concise analysis of the Washington neocon agenda and SOP in action. Unfortunately for us all, a neocon cabal has had virtually unchallenged control over U.S. foreign policy through multiple Presidential administrations- probably going back to Reagan at least. Some of its faces have been in official roles for long spans of time. Many were part of or have close ties to the neocon-conceived and filled “Project for a New American Century” (PNAC).

    Take for example, the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland. Wife of PNAC founder Robert Kagan, she was, in the Obama Administration, one of the chief engineers of the 2014 coup against Ukraine’s Pres. Yanukovych (launched soon after he announced the economic and security deal with Russia that would’ve ensured peace for possibly decades). She is now in Biden’s State Dep’t., where she is once more / still engaged in Ukraine policy.

    But Nuland is just one among many of the neocons whose job it is to continue the reckless attempt to maintain and expand, at all costs, U.S. hegemony via the Empire it has steadily built through the virtual subjugation of states via economic warfare, political meddling, coups, and military imperialism when all else fails. Even its supposed allies have effectively become over time, mere vassal states that merit, in people like Nuland’s eyes, nothing more than the middle finger. “F___ the EU, right?”

    Any states not so willing to bend over; and whose people and leaders seek to project an autonomous future benefiting their own, get a much less friendly treatment from Washington. Constant economic warfare via sanctions, support for those oligarchs and corrupt ones who’d trade off their nation’s liberty for wealth and power, outright coups, and, in cases like Ukraine, which can be used in proxy war against a ‘near-peer’ state, devastating war to the last citizen.

  4. Vera Gottlieb
    January 11, 2023 at 11:00

    And here we go once more…the US sticking it’s nose where it don’t belong. And what would be Washington’s version of Washington??? Clean up your act, Yanx…before lecturing others.

  5. Mark
    January 11, 2023 at 09:00

    It will be a relief when the US govt designates every country in the world a threat, and every country in the world just ignores the US and leaves it to his own devices. Leave us alone!
    Or since most Americans are sound we all just build a wall around DC give them some windmills for power (ha ha) and Bill Gates’ fake meat and Crickets to live on and forget all about Ned Price and his weird pals.

  6. Jeff Harrison
    January 11, 2023 at 00:49

    OMG. The whole Guido thing is so ridiculous! The US doesn’t get to just decide who the elected officials of other countries are. Unlike the military of Bolivia, the Venezuelan army remained true to their country’s constitution. The US’s coup attempt failed and the whole world knows it.

  7. WillD
    January 10, 2023 at 23:02

    The US has a major problem with reality – it’s own. Even most of its supposed allies, while going along with the fiction – because they fear the consequences of independent behaviour, mostly know the truth even if they aren’t willing to publicly admit it. The UK is probably the only vassal ‘ally’ that is fully subscribed to the alternate reality.

  8. Lois Gagnon
    January 10, 2023 at 21:08

    The US government has been an embarrassment for a long time. Idiots with control of the largest, most lethal military machine the world has ever known. What could possibly go wrong?

  9. Piotr Berman
    January 10, 2023 at 20:04

    Washington foreign policy is based on “rules”, and rule number 1 is to support the worst, with grotesque justifications if any. If fascist juntas or bloodthirsty absolute monarchs are available, support those, but lacking those, the most corrupt and class-selfish folks possible.

    The invocation of “only remaining democratically elected institution in Venezuela today” is a logical consequence of the rule number 1.

  10. Sam
    January 10, 2023 at 17:08

    This is one example of the America notion of ‘democracy’.
    Another is in Kiev, where the loser of the last presidential election was ‘locked up’, charged with ‘treason’, and sentenced to 15 years and all the media outlets behind him were seized.
    Undoubtedly, if Biden holds another ‘Democracy Summit’, both Gaido and Zelenski will get golden, engraved invitations.

    As anyone who lives in America knows, in America, ‘democracy’ means a government of the oligarchs, by some puppets, but for the oligarchs.

  11. doris
    January 10, 2023 at 15:33

    Sadly, “Washington’s Version” of most everything is warped.

    Thanks for your excellent insights, Vijay.

  12. susan
    January 10, 2023 at 15:25

    The US Government lives in La-La land…Too bad we can’t put them all on a Space X flight into outer space – that is where they belong…

    • Piotr Berman
      January 10, 2023 at 21:09

      More thrifty approach would be to settle them on Hans Island (belongs to Canada and Denmark, still lacking inhabitants so no locals would complain) or a similar location. If Denmark and Canada are not willing to offer a suitable island, perhaps Russia could?

    • Vera Gottlieb
      January 11, 2023 at 11:02

      They’ll put themselves into ‘outer space’…a morally bankrupt nation getting closer and closer to collapse.

Comments are closed.