Why does the United States of America want to overthrow the government of Venezuela?


White House National Security Advisor John Bolton (in glasses), U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) and Vice President Mike Pence (red tie) talk before the start of a joint news conference with President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Rose Garden at the White House June 7, 2018 in Washington, D.C. PHOTO/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A look at what drives the US to persist in its interventions—diplomatic, economic and military—against the Venezuelan government

Since 1998, the United States of America has tried to overthrow the government of Venezuela. What threatened the government of the United States since then was the Bolivarian dynamic set in motion by the election of Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela that year. Chávez won the elections with a mandate from Venezuela’s workers and poor to overhaul the country to tend to their long-neglected needs.

Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven oil reserves, had enriched the U.S.-based oil companies and its own oligarchy. Venezuela’s key oil minister in the early 1960s (and architect of OPEC—the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso rightly called oil the “devil’s excrement.” It promised so much and delivered so little. Chávez arrived as the embodiment of popular hope. He threatened the oil companies and the oligarchy, which is why the United States tried to overthrow him.

The first attempt at a coup came in 2002, when the United States egged on the military and the oligarchy to overthrow Chávez. They failed. He was supremely popular, the Chavista base eager for change that would improve their lives. They had no faith in the United States or the oligarchy, both of whom had suffocated them for the past century.

Never has the Monroe Doctrine—which the United States invoked to control the American hemisphere—done much good for the millions of people from the southern tip of Argentina to the northern reaches of Canada. It has helped along the big corporations and the oligarchs, but not the ordinary people—the base of the Chavistas.

The residue of that base lined up this Sunday to sign a pledge in public against a new U.S. diplomatic and military intervention, against economic war.

What drives the United States to persist in its interventions—diplomatic, economic and military—against the Venezuelan government?

1. Humanitarian Concerns

Is the United States of America motivated by humanitarian concerns? If it were so, why did the United States attempt to overthrow Chávez’s government in 2002, when there was no problem with Venezuela’s finances? Why has the United States tried to push policies for all of Latin America—such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)—that have been clearly shown to increase suffering for the people?

A logical person would look at these U.S. initiatives—the attempted U.S. coup in 2002 and the FTAA—and conclude that the U.S. government has more concern for corporate interests than for the interests of the poor. After all, what bothered the United States with Chávez was that he demanded that oil companies pay higher royalties for the oil that they sucked out of Venezuela. Such audacity has to be repaid with a coup attempt.

It is what happened in 1953 to Mohammed Mossadeq of Iran and in 1954 to Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala and in 1971 to Salvador Allende of Chile. You cross U.S. multinational corporations, and you get overthrown.

Here’s a quick way to end the humanitarian crisis: stop trying to destabilize Venezuela, end the economic war and allow Venezuela to manage its external revenues. If all this is done, Venezuela’s government should be able to import goods and use its resources to continue the process of diversifying its economy. But this is not what the United States wants.

2. Democracy

Evidence from the past century of U.S. interventions overseas suggests that the United States likes to use the word “democracy” to push its own agenda. Chávez was elected several times, his policies ratified by the people in several referenda. Nicolás Maduro asked the United Nations and external monitors to come to Venezuela and observe last year’s election. The United States pressured these agencies not to go. The right-wing opposition lost the election because they could not come together around a credible candidate—and they have no platform to go to the people.

Even with the chaos in the camp of the right, the right won 33 percent of the vote. Rather than try to appeal to more people on a political basis—the path of democratic politics, in other words—the right has taken cover behind the United States Treasury Department and the U.S. military, with the Canadians in the wings. This is hardly a good way to move a democratic agenda.

What does the United States mean by the promotion of democracy? It is worthwhile to allow U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield to explain the process himself. In November 2006, Brownfield sent a cable to Washington with this five-point strategy (which had been worked out in August 2004):

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