Some people are saying Maduro is a dictator and ruling undemocratically. Those people seem to be mostly from the imperialist media and the Right but still … The claim seems to rest on the fact that although his party won the 2013 general elections, Maduro now rules without the support of the majority of the legislature in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself President, quoting a Constitutional provision and quickly got the support of the US and European powers. Brazil’s neo-fascist President Bolsonaro is also vociferously backing Guadió. Cuba and Bolivia support Maduro, as does Russia and China. Well, we kind of get used to the European powers being on the same side as the US in international affairs, and of Russia being on the other. And Cuba and Bolivia are biased against the USA, having often accused their powerful neighbour of meddling in the affairs of countries in Latin America.
And as it happens, history supports their accusation. Since the decade after WW2 alone, the USA have intervened, directly by invasion or less directly (i.e by instigating coups), in the following Latin American countries:
- Argentina (coup 1976 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
- Brazil (coup1964 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
- Chile (coup 1973 and subsequent support for right-wing dictator)
- Costa Rica (coup-civil war 1948 and many measures since)
- El Salvador (coup 1975 and civil war to 1992)
- Guatemala (coup-civil war 1954)
- Nicaragua (support for right-wing dictator and running terrorist group 1979-1990s)
- Panama (assassination of President 1981 to support replacement, subsequently military invasion 1989)
- Paraguay (coups 1954, 2012)
- Peru (CIA-sponsored governments 1990-2000)
- Uruguay (coup 1973)
- Venezuela (coup 2002, supporting opposition to Chavez, ditto with Maduro, inciting military coup [unsuccessfully to date]).
Well even if these methods were subversive and undemocratic, perhaps the USA was intervening to support democracy? After all, isn’t that what its spokespersons say they want in Venezuela?
Well, sadly no. The regimes the USA has supported in power as well as those brought to power by coups, have been military dictatorships and right-wing governments, repressing democratic freedoms, jailing trade unionists or murdering them, banning opposition media, torturing detainees, making hundreds ‘disappear’, and generally, according to many human rights organisations, with appalling civil and human rights records.
In fact, some of the statements of US spokespersons recently revealed interests that had little to do with justice or human rights. A Guardian report (see References and Links) quotes the USA’s national security adviser John Bolton complaining about Russian support for Maduro: “This is our hemisphere. It’s not where the Russians ought to be interfering.” Apart from the fact that this sounds like the USA’s Latin American policy from the 19th Century, one can’t help wondering when in the 20th or so far in the 21st Century, the USA has ever limited its operations to ‘its own hemisphere’.
Apparently, on May 1st, the Venezuelan Opposition leader tried to stage a coup. He sent out a tweet calling on people to mobilise to unseat Maduro and, though at one point he said it would be peaceful, had himself photographed with a few armed men in Army uniforms. Some opposition people did mobilise and the Army, apparently still loyal to Maduro, confronted them and injured many (none apparently with live rounds, thankfully). Where was Guaidó? It’s not clear but certainly not among those confronting (or being confronted by) the Army.
The US Secretary of State Pompeo claimed publicly that Maduro had a plane ready to fly to Cuba when the coup attempt began but was talked out of it by Russia. Evidence for this? He didn’t produce any and Venezuelan officials accused him of trying to undermine the Venezuelan Army’s confidence in the regime.
Almost certainly there will be other attempts. The US feels it has a good chance of destabilising the regime and bringing in one more favourable to itself. And of course, there’s all that oil.
Do I support Maduro? I don’t know him or his practice well enough to do that. But I do know the USA and whatever they are up to there, I am against them. And I think we should all be.
LINKS AND REFERENCES:
US interventions for regime change in Latin America since WW2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change_in_Latin_America
US policy towards Latin America in the 19th Century: https://oxfordre.com/latinamericanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.001.0001/acrefore-9780199366439-e-41
Recent US statement on sphere of influence: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/01/russia-denies-us-claim-it-told-maduro-not-to-flee-venezuela