By Gerry Conover
A rogue’s gallery within the U.S. government has served up to the American people a barrage of misinformation and disinformation to provide the justification for constant and escalating attacks against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the point of initiating a coup d’etat. U.S. mainstream media has uncritically, and in lockstep fashion, obliged, giving no acknowledgment of continued violations by the U.S. government of international law concerning the right of self-determination of nations, respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The definition of “disinformation” is “deliberately false information leaked by a government, as to confuse another nation’s intelligence operations,” while the definition of “misinform” is “to supply with false or misleading information,” per Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition.
The January 26-27, 2019 Wall Street Journal wrote, “The night before Juan Guaido, head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Pence pledged that the U.S. would back Mr. Guaido if he seized the reins of government from Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution.”
Fact: There IS NO CLAUSE in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela that legitimizes Guaido’s attempted power grab, nor is there any status such as “interim president” laid out in that constitution.
Hot on the heels of Mr. Pence’s assurances of U.S. backing, President Trump followed suit, recognizing Mr. Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful leader. Then, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a statement that it would use its “economic and diplomatic tools to ensure that commercial transactions by the Venezuelan government… are consistent with this recognition.” The U.S. State Department subsequently notified the Federal Reserve that Mr. Guaido is the agent for access to Venezuelan assets in the U.S.
On January 28, the U.S. Treasury Department placed a block on all of the assets under U.S. jurisdiction of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, which owns CITGO gas stations and refineries across the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton noted the sanctions would provoke a loss of some 11 billion dollars in Venezuela’s exports for 2019 and a freeze on seven billion dollars of her assets.
These attacks on this sovereign nation are in complete violation of international law.
Nicolás Maduro was lawfully reelected president of Venezuela in May 2018, winning in a landslide with 67.8% of the vote, in an election in which 31.7% of all registered voters participated. His closest rival, Henri Falcon, mustered only 21% of the vote. The most virulent of the political opposition in Venezuela refused to participate in the election. Upon losing, Falcon joined their ranks in refusing to recognize the election results.
Consider that in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, Donald Trump won 46% of the vote, while only 27.3% of registered voters participated. In the 2017 presidential elections in France, Emmanuel Macron won with only 24.01% of the vote, and only 29.1% of registered voters participated in the French contest. Yet not a peep came from the U.S. government to challenge President Macron’s right to govern, notwithstanding the tens of thousands of French citizens in yellow vests that were in the streets protesting his government’s policies that favor the interests of the wealthy and leave the rest of the population suffering escalating gas and other prices, week after week, facing tear gas, police batons and rubber bullets.
While the U.S. mainstream media has given a great deal of coverage to opposition actions and protests against the Maduro government in Venezuela, it has been silent on the well-documented matter of the millions upon millions of dollars the U.S. government gives every year, through institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy, to name but one, to finance the U.S.-led destabilization efforts underway there.
Also absent from U.S. mainstream media coverage is any acknowledgment or reminder to the U.S. population of how this latest assault against Venezuela’s sovereignty and economy is actually yet another step in a longstanding pattern of practice of the U.S. government using multiple tactics — at taxpayer expense, including military invasions and assassinations directed at foreign governments — to be able to suck resources out of Latin American nations and to ensure governments operate in line with the interests of the largest economic forces in the U.S.
Take a look at a smattering of the history of U.S. actions in Central and South America alone over approximately the last century: from the invasion of Mexico in 1911; to Nicaragua’s invasion by the U.S. Marines in 1912; to Haiti in 1915; to the Dominican Republic in 1916; to Panama in 1918; to Nicaragua in 1933; to the overthrow of President Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala in 1954; to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961; to the coup d’etat against President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973; to the attempted coup d’etat against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002; to Haiti in 2004; to the coup d’etat in Honduras in 2009.
While much is being made in the U.S. media about the Venezuelan government’s refusal of what President Trump called “humanitarian aid” (which was found to be loaded with nails and wire!), the mainstream media has been reticent to report on the role of the U.S. government to destabilize the Venezuelan economy through economic warfare, and to create such disarray as to provide the pretext for U.S. intervention and privatization on a massive scale. The International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations agencies and other relief organizations have refused to collaborate with the U.S. and its allies regarding this supposed “humanitarian aid.” Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine” has thoroughly documented the playbook the U.S. government has used to set the stage for regime change and its aftermath of conversion of publicly owned industries and public services to assets of profiteering multinational corporations.
Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. On January 24, Bolton shamelessly stated on the Fox Business broadcast, “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”
What you don’t condemn, you allow
On May 20, 2014, representatives from a delegation of the Cook County Workers Benefit Council spoke before the Chicago Committee on Human Relations to stop that committee from passing a resolution that aimed to interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, at a time when the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee had already passed a bill on May 9 containing sanctions against the Venezuelan government and in favor of giving millions of dollars more to Venezuelan opposition groups.
One of the WBC representatives stated, “I strongly object to Chicago’s City Council using our time and money to consider interfering with the democratic government of another country. The government of Venezuela rules through internationally recognized elections enjoying greater participation than U.S. elections. It would be hypocritical and a disgrace to the residents of Chicago for this City Council to adopt this resolution. The job of the City Council is to end poverty and violence against working people here in Cook County. The resolution of April 5, 2014 is an attack on a lawfully elected government and is filled with untrue statements aimed to pander to a certain class and group of people who do not represent the majority of the people of Venezuela. This is an abrogation of the City Council’s duties, misuse of your time and our money! Venezuela has reduced poverty by 50% and extreme poverty by two thirds. We have almost a million people living in poverty in Cook County: attend to how you are going to reduce poverty here in Chicago, keep our schools open, provide healthcare for the people of this community and create living wage jobs. That’s what the people of Chicago want from this City Council.” Several other representatives from the WBC echoed this position. The Committee on Human Relations completely disregarded the WBC representatives and passed its resolution criticizing Venezuela.
In times of war, there are no innocent bystanders
In times of war, there are no innocent bystanders. If you are standing by, you are not innocent. There is a war going on that is already underway, multifaceted, in which the mainstream media plays a large role in “shaping the narrative,” as media mavens of recent vintage are wont to say. They count on your lack of access to a view and understanding of the realities of Venezuela. The words in this article are only a step toward beginning to eliminate some of that lack of understanding. If those promoting invasion and takeover in Venezuela cannot count on your ignorance, they count on your complicity. As you are paying for what the U.S. government is doing, consider who stands to gain and who stands to lose through the actions it’s taking in our name but without our consent. If you see it is unacceptable, that it should not be tolerated, it is your duty to not sit idly by and let it continue to happen, but rather, to do all within your power to stop it.
United Nations Rapporteur and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council Alfred de Zayas said U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela should be investigated as “possible crimes against humanity.”