Venezuela and the sordid history of US imperialist intervention in Latin America

Support for Venezuela’s sovereignty and its resolute stand against imperialist attempts to carry out “regime change” is growing around the world. On the weekend of February 23, more than 150+ cities around the world held demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution. The rallying cry of the global demonstrations was: No U.S. war on Venezuela! Tens of thousands marched with this banner in New York, in London and Liverpool, in Berlin, across Canada in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton, in Dublin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Madrid, Jakarta, Sofia and other cities.


Demonstration against US intervention through-out the world (Above - Vancouver, Canada 
Below - Washington, DC, USA)


At the United Nations Security Council, countries like China, Russia, Cuba, DPRK, Syria, Iran, Palestine and Nicaragua showed their support for Venezuela, while the representative of Venezuela, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, delivered a passionate and soundly argued attack on those trying to undermine the country’s sovereignty and its Constitution.

Highlighting the hypocrisy of the imperialist-led campaign against Venezuela, the Foreign Minister said that “It is unacceptable that a president who threatened to use military power (US President Trump) had not been questioned by the world multilateral bodies; instead, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been placed in the dock.” To French President Macron who has joined the US-led campaign, and whose own government has faced massive protests over several months, he said: “care about your [own] affairs! We do not meddle in your affairs. Show some respect! Comply with the Charter of the United Nations and respect the self-determination of the peoples!”*

Despite this, there has been no let-up in the imperialists’ intrigues and global publicity blitz against the so-called “undemocratic” government of Nicolas Maduro. They have continued with their attempt to invade Venezuela under a thinly disguised ploy of sending “humanitarian aid” there through neighbouring Colombia.

The imperialists received a major setback, however, when they were unable to get the armed forces in Venezuela to desert the government despite threats and entreaties made by Trump himself.

Who and what is responsible for the crisis in Venezuela?

The imperialists are arguing that it is socialism and the undemocratic nature of the Maduro government that are responsible for the difficulties faced by Venezuela today. This is a complete fraud, because everything shows that the problem lies with US imperialist meddling in the affairs of Venezuela, not just now but over many decades, that has time and again led Venezuela to the brink of crisis.

Ever since oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early 20th century, it has been under the domination of Western imperialists headed by the US. Even when Venezuelan oil was nationalized in the 1970s, under the rule of US lackeys this was used only to give it on preferential terms to the US, which encouraged Venezuela to rely almost entirely on this resource for its economic development and to import its other basic necessities. This led to a major crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, resulting in mass protest movements.

It was through these popular movements that the government of Hugo Chavez was elected to power in 1998. The Chavez government greatly angered the US by diversifying the market for Venezuelan oil, which had earlier been totally dependent on the US. It also sought to diversify the economy by trying to develop agriculture and manufacturing (it had become heavily dependent on food and other imports), and for the first time in Venezuela’s history some of the oil revenues were used to invest in public housing, education and health facilities for the country’s working people.

Furious at the Venezuelan government’s independence and initiatives, the US imperialists conspired with their oil-rich collaborators like Saudi Arabia to drastically increase the production of oil from 2014, bringing oil prices crashing down. This affected not only Venezuela, but also other petroleum-producing countries in the US’ line of fire like Russia and Iran. This was followed by the US-led war of sanctions against Venezuela, first started by Obama.

Economic sanctions led to billions of dollars of loss of revenue for Venezuela, and to great difficulties in importing food, medicines etc. US actions included arbitrary shutting down of US companies like GM and throwing hundreds of workers out of jobs. The governments of Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro tried to build closer economic ties with countries like China in particular, and to find ways around the petrodollar standard imposed by the US. Because of this, US imperialism under Trump further ratcheted up the sanctions against Venezuela. Together with its allies like UK, it illegally froze Venezuela’s gold reserves worth billions of dollars held in those countries that could have been used to tide over the crisis arising from the shortfall in oil revenues.

Thus we can see that it is US imperialism, aided by its allies, that has pushed Venezuela into crisis, not “Venezuelan socialism” under Chavez and Maduro, as the imperialist propaganda makes out.

US imperialism’s repeated history of intervention in Latin America

Day in and day out, the imperialists are doing propaganda that they are intervening in Venezuela now only because of ‘humanitarian’ considerations and because of the ‘undemocratic’ government of Maduro. This claim falls flat when seen against the background of how US imperialism has time and again used military force and other means to interfere in other countries in Central and Latin America, in order to install or prop up fascist and pro-imperialist regimes.

  • Under the Monroe Doctrine first enunciated by the US in 1823, the US arrogated to itself the right to become the policeman of the Americas. Thereafter, it has interfered repeatedly in the internal affairs of Central and Latin American states.
  • In 1846, the United States invaded Mexico. In the peace treaty it imposed on Mexico, it forced Mexico to give it more than half of its territory.
  • In 1903, the U.S. detached Panama from Colombia in order to gain domination over the zone where the Panama Canal was being excavated to connect shipping routes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
  • In 1903, following the Spanish-American War, the U.S. acquired complete domination of Cuba. It proceeded to establish a naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
  • In 1914, the US again militarily interfered in Mexico in order to obstruct the Mexican Revolution.
  • US imperialism played a direct role in installing regimes in South American countries that will tow the line of the US, selling off the national resources and sovereignty of these countries. The US state, under various governments and Presidents, supported the most fascist dictators in Latin America.Any time, the people elected a government that they believed would safeguard their interests against US imperialism, the latter tried every trick – covert and overt – to organize a regime change.
  • In 1954, the President of Guatemala Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup.
  • In 1961, under US President Kennedy there took place the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion which failed to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who had successfully led a revolution which ended US imperialist domination there. This failure did not prevent the US from trying repeatedly over many decades to overthrow or assassinate Castro.
  • In 1964, the US organized a coup in Brazil which resulted in the establishment of a military dictatorship that continued until the 1980s.
  • In 1965 US forces invaded the Dominican Republic.
  • In 1973, the US instigated a military coup in Chile against the elected government of Salvador Allende. The military government of Pinochet was noted for its brutality and slavish adherence to policies dictated by Washington.
  • In the 1980s, the US waged the infamous Contra war, using anti-communist forces armed and equipped by it, against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. It also supported the government of El Salvador against popular revolt.
  • In 1983, the US invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada which it felt was becoming too close to Cuba.
  • In 1989 the US invaded Panama to overthrow its own former agent Manuel Noriega.
  • In 1994, the US invaded Haiti to effect a change of government to one headed by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom it then conspired to overthrow in another coup in 2004.
  • In 2002, the US backed a coup to overthrow the elected President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, but was forced to back down after people came out on the streets in his support.
  • In 2009, the US backed a military coup to overthrow the President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya.

This record makes it very clear that the US has systematically worked to undermine the independence and democracy in states in Central and Latin America over one and a half centuries. In some cases, especially in the smaller countries, it has directly sent in its troops. In other cases, it has employed its bag of ‘dirty tricks’ to carry out assassination attempts, foment coups and organize vigilante groups working under its direction. It has also groomed reactionary and sold-out politicians, presenting them as popular leaders, all the time accompanied by a barrage of propaganda worldwide against those it is trying to overthrow.

This is what is being played out again with respect to Venezuela today. However, both the people in Venezuela and around the world are far more conscious today about the nature of US imperialism and its allies, and are fighting back valiantly to defend Venezuela’s sovereignty, its democratic system backed by its Constitution, and its right to choose its own path of development.


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Mar 16-31 2019    World/Geopolitics    War & Peace     2019   

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