Mint Press News
By Ramona Wadi
Failing to bring down Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and Hugo Chavez, the U.S. is now allegedly orchestrating coups in the South American country and imposing sanctions in response to what it says are violations of human rights.
An opposition demonstrator prepares to throw a molotov cocktail at police after clashes broke out at a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015.
Having tried, and failed, to hamper Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution during Hugo Chavez’s presidency, the United States has intensified its attempts to permanently disrupt the socialist process now headed by Nicolas Maduro.
Funding Venezuela’s opposition and oligarchy — the same tactic the U.S. used to bring down Salvador Allende’s socialist government in Chile — prompted a strong statement from Maduro earlier this month: “As President, I will not permit that Venezuela suffers as Chile did in 1973.”
On Feb. 12, Venezuela’s Telesur reported that the government had thwarted a coup plot involving both civilians and members of the military. As the plot became public knowledge, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez issued a series of tweets pledging the Bolivarian National Armed Forces’ (FANB) loyalty to Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.
La FANB se mantiene incólume en sus convicciones democráticas y rechaza las pretensiones golpistas que atentan contra la paz de la República
— Vladimir Padrino L. (@vladimirpadrino) February 12, 2015
Translation: “The FANB remain resolute in their democratic beliefs and reject coup schemes that threaten the peace of the republic.”
La FANB reitera su apoyo incondicional a nuestro Cmdte en Jefe @NicolasMaduro y se mantiene al lado del pueblo de Venezuela en pie de lucha.
— Vladimir Padrino L. (@vladimirpadrino) February 13, 2015
Translation: “The FANB reaffirms its unconditional support to our Commander in Chief @NicolasMaduro and stands alongside the people of Venezuela in their struggle.”
Since the riots against Maduro’s government started on Feb. 12, 2014, the U.S. has taken great pains to portray the socialist government as infringing upon human rights and attempting to strangle the Venezuelan opposition’s allegedly peaceful protests.
While Maduro has accused Vice President Joe Biden of attempting to instigate the coup, Biden’s office issued a diplomatic response reiterating allegations of human rights violations perpetrated by Maduro’s government: “President Maduro’s accusations are patently false and are clearly part of an effort to distract from the concerning situation in Venezuela, which includes repeated violations of freedom of speech, assembly, and due process.”
People line up outside the Dia a Dia supermarket to try to beat shortages on items like coffee, cooking oil, precooked corn flour, sugar, milk, toilet paper, disposable diapers, detergent and fabric softener, among other items.
A key point of U.S. interference was a sanctions bills targeting government leaders who were allegedly involved in oppressing the opposition.
The allegedly “peaceful opposition” was responsible for blocking main roads and communities, preventing trucks from reaching the barrios with needed supplies. Chavista activists were threatened and in some cases shot by the opposition for cleaning up the streets after the violent protest. Additionally, opposition supporters have attacked journalists and employed various forms of psychological and physical violence against civilians and personnel, including 162 attacks on Cuban doctors in Venezuela.
The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 was passed by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 8. Rhetoric employed throughout the bill reflects U.S. hegemony and interference — particularly its reference to working “with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union (EU) to ensure the peaceful resolution of the situation in Venezuela and the cessation of violence against anti-government protesters.” It also calls for supporting “the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela,” yet blatantly ignores the existence of both frameworks in the country.
The sanctions clearly target “any person, including a current or former government of Venezuela official or a person acting on behalf of such government” who has allegedly participated in various forms of violence, including the restriction of freedom of expression of the opposition.
The notion of sanctions against government officials had been rejected by the Venezuelan Group of the Latin American Parliament, which deemed such action “a violation of sovereignty.” The group’s president, Angel Rodriguez, insisted that sanctions constituted a false campaign to discredit Maduro and insinuate that the Venezuelan government is violating its citizens’ human rights. The U.S., according to Rodriguez, is seeking to destabilize Venezuela “and retain control over what once it considered its own back yard.”
“A dead end”
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro holds up a small copy on the constitution during a meeting with leaders of the opposition at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, April 10, 2014.
As reported by Telesur, Venezuelan President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello asserted that Venezuelan government authorities identified “a list of individuals from the United States Embassy in Caracas who provided visas to individuals involved in the attempt.” The visas would provide those involved in planning the coup with political asylum in case the coup failed.
Expanding upon U.S. involvement in the planned coup, Maduro declared that the Venezuelan opposition, including “the four-time losing candidate,” Henrique Capriles Radonski, had knowledge of the plans.
The coup was to take place on Feb. 12. According to Telesur, the transition program in which opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma were involved, outlined plans that included “the privatization of oil, deregulation of the economy and agreements with the International Monetary Fund.”
Privatizing Venezuelan oil would have been a direct threat to Hugo Chavez’s Petrocaribe program, established in 2005. The agreement, initially signed by 14 Caribbean countries, allows its members to purchase oil at low interest rates. Nineteen countries now benefit from the agreement — members pay 60 percent of the purchase price up-front and the remaining 40 percent over a period of 25 years.
Under this agreement, countries have the option of providing services rather than issuing payments. One example would be the agreement between Cuba and Venezuela: In return for oil, Cuba offers health and education services to the country, thus providing Venezuela with needed medical staff and training for doctors. Medical access in Venezuela prior to Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution was a privilege for reserved for the elite, but Cuban health care aid in return for oil has facilitated the provision of medical services for the entire population.
The U.S. has interpreted the anti-government protests and economic crisis as a sign that Chavez’s Petrocaribe program would deteriorate rapidly. During the Caribbean Energy Summit hosted by Biden last month, eliminating dependence on the Venezuelan oil program was a priority, although there was no indication from Maduro that the program would be stopped. On the contrary, Maduro declared Petrocaribe “a guarantee of peace, stability, mutual benefit, shared development and fair commerce shared by the entire Caribbean.”
On Monday, Maduro stated that he would not abide by U.S. interference and conspiracy in Venezuela. U.S. policy toward Venezuela, he said, “is directed by irresponsible imperialist forces that are leading the United States into a dead end.”
Since 1998, when Chavez became president of Venezuela, the U.S. has supported the Venezuelan oligarchy in attempts to overturn the Bolivarian Revolution, in the same way it aided the Chilean opposition in engineering social turmoil as a prelude to the coup that ended Allende’s presidency. A 2006 cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that a few of the U.S.’s intentions in 2004 were: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.”