Nel's New Day

January 26, 2019

Venezuela: Is DDT Planning for 2020?

Following a long history of supporting Latin American coups by right-wing military leaders who destroy democratic process and law, the United States has involved itself in the recent Venezuelan presidency. VP Mike Pence declared that Venezuelan Nicolás Maduro, elected on May 20, 2018, is a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power [who] never won the presidency in a free and fair election.” The night before his announcement, Pence called Juan Guaidó to pledge U.S. support for him “if he seized the reins of government from [elected President] Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution” after the attempted coup had been planned for several weeks. Over 70 academics and experts signed an open letter demanding that the U.S. “cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change.” Behind the push to oust Maduro are national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with the right-wing governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. DDT got more support from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

DDT says that “all options are on the table,” including “strong” ones, insinuating military action. Eighteen months ago, DDT wanted to “just simply invade” Venezuela, a suggestion that “stunned” then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Explanations about how DDT’s suggestion could lose support from Latin American governments to keep Venezuela from a dictatorship failed to persuade DDT, who pointed out successful invasions of Panama and Grenada. He brought his idea of his military overthrow with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in August 2017 and a month later with other Latin American leaders. Now he has supporters for a coup from people like his new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

As the U.S. has done in other countries, it declares disliked government illegitimate and dictatorial and tries to empower opposition groups it determines favorable. Thomas Carothers, director of the Carnegie Endowment Democracy and Rule of Law program, is the foremost academic on Washington’s democracy promotion efforts. In his research he concludes:

“Where democracy appears to fit in well with U.S. security and economic interest, the United States promotes democracy. Where democracy clashes with other significant interests, it is downplayed or even ignored.”

In 2009, the U.S. supported a military coup in Honduras deposing the elected president to keep access to the U.S. military base in the country and support U.S. business interests in Honduras. When the pro-business government winning the elections privatized Honduran natural resources, the U.S. recognized the election as “generally free and fair.” In 2013, the U.S.-supported Honduran president lifted the constitutional ban on re-election and then won after he stopped publishing the vote count. The U.S. accepted the election despite protests from 20 Latin American countries in the OAS and 28 in the European Union. Honduran authorities used violence to silence the protesting Hondurans, the U.S. gave Honduras millions in foreign aid, and DDT is facing thousands of Honduran asylum seekers at the U.S. border.

In Venezuela, U.S. officials called Maduro’s government convening of a National Constituent Assembly a “sham” and “another step toward dictatorship.” The Assembly is an elected body able to amend the Venezuelan constitution outside the legislature—much as conservatives have called for in the United States. Then the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 18 out of 23 races, as the Democratic United Roundtable had predicted, and the U.S. “condemned the lack of free and fair elections” and vowed harsh reprisals “as long as the Maduro regime conducts itself as an authoritarian dictatorship.” Only one governor’s race was in question, and the rest of them were accepted by most opposition parties.

The U.S. charged that the Constituent Assembly dissolved the opposition-controlled congressional branch, but the legislative branch still exists. It cannot perform its function unless it answers charges of wrongdoing from the Supreme Court when the opposition parties disobeyed a direct order. The opposition party was trying to get a supermajority used to unseat Maduro.

According to UN representative Alfred de Zayas, the U.S. is attempting an illegal coup much like the forerunner to the 2003 Iraq invasion. His concern is the U.S intention for creating a regime change in Venezuela, to “topple the government” that could result in a civil war. He described the media campaign in the U.S. that promotes the usual solution of violence to an economic crisis and humanitarian crisis of hunger and suffering. De Zayas reported seeing victims of brutality by Maduro’s opposition, depicted in the media as peaceful.

The U.S. has tried other coups in Venezuela, but the country is much worse off after the drop in oil prices and the recent election of right-wing governments in South America. Yet there is no legal justification for this coup: Guaidó’s party boycotted the election, and no one voted for him.

The U.S. will probably impose heavy sanctions on the country’s oil to increase hunger and suffering, especially with DDT’s newly appointed special envoy to Venezuela. Neocon hawk Elliott Abrams, part of Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair, will oversee policy toward Venezuela despite Abrams’ rejection as deputy secretary of State for criticizing DDT. As deputy national security adviser for George W. Bush, Abrams supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a failed military coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002. In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to withholding information from Congress about his secret efforts to aid the rebels but was pardoned by DDT’s AG appointment, Bill Barr. He also strongly disagreed with DDT’s claim that he wasn’t seeking regime change in North Korea.

DDT’s approach toward opposing Venezuela is unlike the other proclamations that he has made. He made no tweets about his position about Venezuela, and his claims to “make America first” never extolls democracy or human rights, and his closest allies are dictators—i.e., Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Roderigo Duterte, Saudi Arabia’s royalty, and Brazil. In order to send the U.S. military into Venezuela without congressional approval, however, requires that it be on a humanitarian basis.

One answer for DDT’s focus on Venezuela may come from his low ratings and desire to be re-elected. Just as Bush’s Iraq made him temporarily successful, so could military action in Venezuela, or so DDT might think. He would also believe that an attack against a weakened country surrounded by right-wing countries would be easier than an attack in the Middle East or Asia.

Every action DDT has taken since he was inaugurated—all of them in opposition to President Obama’s policies—has taken the United States farther from world leadership. DDT may see his control in Venezuela as a method of moving back into control.

Venezuela is oil-rich—and easier to take over than Middle Eastern countries.

DDT has used Venezuela as the poster child for the failure of socialism to batter the Democrats despite the fact that “socialism” and “democratic socialism” are highly different. He also objects to Venezuela’s alliance with Cuba, most likely the reason that he followed Rubio’s direction to depose Maduro.

Another reason for deposing an elected president might be his fear of losing his election in 2020. He might believe that success in Venezuela could set the example for using his sycophantic Senate to depose an elected president in favor of him.

Whatever the reason, Venezuela has many parallels with the United States. The man in the Oval Office may have been illegitimately elected, he is trying to erase freedom of the press and ignores the rest of the U.S. Constitution, and his administration suffers from massive corruption and the officials’ attempts to become even wealthier. Income inequality in the U.S. geometrically increases every day. DDT constantly lies to terrorize people into following him. Millions of people are marching against DDT’s policies, and he puts only cronies into the administration. Congress is no longer independent from the executive branch as the GOP Senate takes its directions from DDT, for example its refusal to reopen the government until DDT gave them permission. The U.S. does not suffer as much from the hunger and economic problems as Venezuela does, but DDT’s policies are creating economic problems—especially with the rapidly ballooning deficit caused by moving money to the wealthy. DDT and GOP policies will also increase hunger, poverty, and lack of healthcare.

Opposing Maduro could create problems for DDT because of the support for Maduro from most countries, including Russia, China, and Turkey. If DDT caves in to Putin after setting up Venezuela for civil war, Guaidó could lose, and DDT is not known for keeping his promises. Thus far, the only dedication that DDT exhibits is to “wall,” and even that project has evolved during the past three years depending on its lack of popularity. Without DDT’s interference, Venezuela might find its own way from Maduro, but DDT will probably not give the country a chance to work out their own problems if his interference benefits DDT.

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