Tendai H. Manzvanzvike Group Foreign Editor
Now that they have made the Venezualan economy scream, and continue to pile pressure on its president Nicolas Maduro, for the Trump administration, like others before it, regime change or military aggression are the only reasonable options, with the US and its allies being the kingmakers and cheer-leaders.
As the war drums play in Latin America, the question is whether democracy is now dead. Are we also being taken back to the Cold War era?
On a number of occasions, Trump insinuated that military action in Venezuela remains on the table, while his National Security Adviser John Bolton on January 28 had a note indicating “5 000 troops to Colombia”, a key US ally.
Since the demise of revolutionaries like Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez, South America has become polarised, with the majority of countries warming up to the Trump administration, despite the anti-Trump sentiments expressed in his early years as president.
The seeds of disunity in South America have given leverage to Donald Trump to ensure that the US restores its strategic interests in that region just as they are slowly doing in Africa.
Thus Trump’s regime change machinery is in full swing. They want oil again, despite OPEC reports at the end of 2018 that the US was now the world’s biggest oil producer.
This was reiterated by Maduro in an interview with RT Spanish when he said: “What is Donald Trump’s ‘casus belli’ against Venezuela? The ‘casus belli’ is the oil of Venezuela, the riches of Venezuela, its gold, gas, iron, diamonds (and) other material riches.”
The crisis in Venezuela was worsened on January 23, 2019. The world watched as little-known opposition legislator, Juan Guaidó (35), declared himself the legitimate president. This was despite the fact that the constitutionally elected President Maduro had been inaugurated days before.
Events of January 23, though not surprising, were a new low for the US interventionist policies. Its hand in the farcical shenanigans was not difficult to see.
Vice president Mike Pence’s phone call to Guaidó a day before the self-inauguration changed the face of Venezuela’s political landscape, and in the process raises questions about democratic processes.
On January 23, Trump released a statement affirming that his administration was “officially recognising . . . Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela”, adding that he would use “the full weight of United States and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezualan democracy”.
Washington had already branded Venezuela a “troika of tyranny”, having tried to assassinate the late Chavez and Maduro many times. The serious economic challenges the Maduro administration has been facing since the slump in oil prices was justification for the United States to flagrantly break international law, interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs and use their proxy to stage a coup d’état.
When Trump campaigned on the mantra “Making America great again”, in the process fighting with other superpowers, trashing the Iran nuclear deal; threatening to pull out of the National Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO); withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, World Trade Organisation, other UN organisations, the belief was that he wanted to concentrate on domestic issues.
But, the Venezuela saga shows that despite changing leadership every four or eight years, the US hardly changes its foreign policy. It is guided by permanent interests, not permanent friends, and uses willing pawns to achieve those goals.
Another mechanism used to achieve its mission is imposition of illegal economic sanctions and military assaults. In 2003 the US–led coalition invaded Iraq. The charge was that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction, which has since been proved to be a blatant lie.
Meanwhile, Iraq whose existence can be traced to biblical times, is now in ruins. The Iraq war also led to the destabilisation of the Middle East and North Africa.
It also gave birth to international terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, with the blame being squarely put before the US and its Western allies that have been quick to recognise Guaidó.
Libya is another mount of rubble, because the Americans and their cartel wanted Libyan oil, while accusing the late strongman Muammar Gaddafi of being a dictator. Since Gaddafi’s death in 2011, Libya has not known peace, let alone the promised democratic governance.
At the time of writing, the United States had already imposed a number of sanctions on Maduro’s administration. Traders have been warned against dealing “in Venezuelan gold or oil”, the major economic resources that made it a powerhouse in the region.
There are a number of issues or lessons to be drawn from these dramatic scenarios. Democracy is often applied selectively. Is being an outright bully the same as upholding democratic tenets? Who defines democratic values and, who determines best practices in a democratic process?
Can the US that is still fighting itself and Russia about election 2016 claim that it is democratic, or it is using its financial muscle to elbow out leaders who stand in its way to achieving “greatness”?
Apart from strategic interests, what does Guaidó mean for Trump/Pence’s re-election in 2020, considering that they lost the majority in Congress last year, and considering that US Congressional Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a Democrat), has become the second most powerful politician in Washington?
Is illegal regime change becoming an acceptable strategy for electioneering among US leaders?
Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Zimbabwe, journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and others: are these the sacrificial animals for Trump’s re-election bid in what promises to be a heavily contested race in 2020?
Why are Venezuelans also more appealing to Trump, when he has openly stated his anti-migrant stance against people from Latin America, Africa and Islamic countries?
The other million-dollar question is: where is the United Nations when the US is using its impunity to raze down sovereign states, removing elected leaders and replacing them with pawns that serve its interests? And international human rights bodies — whose interests are they serving?
Americans claim that Guaidó enjoys support among Venezuelans, and the Western media has been very quick to brand him that way. But Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal in their article “The Making of Juan Guaidó: US Regime-Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader” published in www.consortiumnews.com <http://www.consortiumnews.com> give an expose of who Guaidó is:
“While Guaidó seemed to have materialised out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilise the country and one day seize power. Though he has been a minor figure in Venezuelan politics, he had spent years quietly demonstrating his worthiness in Washington’s halls of power.
“‘Juan Guaidó is a character that has been created for this circumstance,’ Marco Teruggi, an Argentinian sociologist and leading chronicler of Venezuelan politics, told the Grayzone. ‘It’s the logic of a laboratory – Guaidó is like a mixture of several elements that create a character who, in all honesty, oscillates between laughable and worrying.’”
Every few years, laboratory products like Guaidó emerge. In Zimbabwe, we have the MDC. However, they mutate like the HIV virus, becoming monsters in the process, unless the progressive world wants to nip this in the bud.