By Nino Pagliccia – Jul 16, 2021
Venezuela today is the epicentre of a revolutionary movement that wants to establish a different political paradigm for Latin America; a new paradigm of an autochthonous ideology with historical and cultural elements, with a single vision but a renewing tactical approach on the basis of a constant dialectical analysis of the global context of our era. Analyst Yanis Iqbal fittingly wrote, “A dialectical viewpoint… is sensitive to the all-encompassing complexity of any revolutionary historical process.”
By all accounts the Bolivarian revolution is resisting one of the most ferocious attacks from the US empire and its ideologically aligned European and Canadian allies. Despite the barrage of strikes from the arsenal of weapons of a hybrid war, many of which are illegal in international law and charters, Venezuela stands tall in the eyes of the majority of countries in the world, most certainly in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
The aggression is producing suffering and deaths, no less than an armed conflict, nonetheless the Bolivarian revolution is gaining strength while the US aggressor shows signs of weakening and appears to be committing political suicide.
Where is Venezuela’s resistance spirit coming from and how is the US empire self-destructing?
Historical foundations with a dialectical vision
In a compelling article by Vijay Prashad, executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, the author refers to an often-quoted phrase written by Simon Bolívar in 1829, “The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague [Latin] America with misery in the name of liberty.” No one will doubt that the ominous presence of the US in Latin America today through its Monroe Doctrine of 1823, its exceptionalism doctrine or its current hybrid wars, seems to have fulfilled such a clairvoyant premonition.
Prashad wrote in the context of the 200 years of the Battle of Carabobo on June 24 this year, the battle that Bolívar won to seal the final blow to the Spanish colonisers and consolidate more than 10 years of struggle for the independence of Venezuela. The importance of that victory is not limited to the event itself and its immediate result, but rather it has to be viewed in the context of the predominant role of history in the modern pursuit of sovereignty and independence in Latin America.
Hugo Chávez masterfully understood that the historical liberation process initiated by Simón Bolívar and other freedom fighters against European powers was the unifying bond in a region divided by the interests of a modern power well foreseen by Bolívar himself. Chávez took stock in the pride of past achievements to build future achievements. His was not just a revolution but a Bolivarian revolution.
The word “Bolivarian” revives the independence values of the 19th century based on the integrationist vision of Simón Bolívar, the idea of civic-military unity of Ezequiel Zamora, and the liberating popular education of Simón Rodríguez, who was Bolívar’s mentor. Hugo Chávez took from them his own vision of building the Bolivarian Patria Grande (Great Homeland) based on the original principles of sovereignty and independence with the people as protagonists.
Recalling the founding of the Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement in 1982—the forerunner of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV)—Chávez is quoted saying: “That was what we were pursuing, a revolution, a political, social, economic and cultural transformation inspired in the proposition of Bolívar [Zamora and Rodriguez]. This is how we designed what we have called the ‘tree with the three roots’, which is our ideological source.”
Chávez’s foundational vision would reunite Venezuelans and all Latin Americans to their historical emancipatory roots, and with that it would be able to resist the US endless imperial hybrid warfare. He masterfully provided a solid historical foundation enriched with a dialectical understanding of modern Latin America within the broader geopolitical reality. With that revolutionary vision he boldly proceeded to build a sovereign and independent socialist homeland.
In a recent interview given to the corporate media outlet Bloomberg, President Maduro confidently reiterates the dialectical approach to maintaining the course of Chávez’s Socialism of the 21st century, dispelling doubts of a changing ideology.
US political suicide in opposing a multipolar world
In striking contrast, the US seems to remain rooted in its old and stifling hegemonic history stuck in its persistent repetition of a past of expansionism, imperialism, and its 19th century Monroe Doctrine. This lack of adaptability and renewal is now showing clear evidence of its decrepit ageing and failure.
The US failure vis-à-vis the world is quite evident by its determination to risk a self-destructive new cold war in the hope to retain its old imperialist unipolar geopolitical control of the world. Indeed, it may be risking a real armed conflict that would accelerate its demise.
The real US power today is not its military might, which is slowly being overtaken by both China and Russia at a fraction of the cost to the public funds, but rather its financial control of the world economy by a system based on the dollar. However, predictions, including Western capitalist ones, forecast that China will surpass the U.S. economy by 2028 or 2030. As an economist put it, “On the day when China becomes the largest economy again, it signals there’s a shift of power between the East and West.” Of course the most transcendental shift will be from a fundamentally capitalist power to a fundamentally socialist power.
China and Russia have a close relationship and hold a good balance of forces. China is developing its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) promoting trade and cooperation, connecting vast regions in Eurasia and Africa. Analyst Carlos Martinez pointedly wrote, “China does not seek to rule the world, nor does it seek to ‘undermine democracy worldwide’. It is however increasingly challenging the established imperialist world order—economically, strategically and ideologically.” This is much more appealing to Latin America than being the US “backyard.”
Russia in turn is promoting the important task of de-escalation of conflicts with its policy of balance in the Middle East, which contrasts dramatically with the warmongering US and allies foreign policy. Both China and Russia seem to have a strategic alliance focused on building a multipolar world with several centres of shared power and much collaboration.
The current Washington aggressive foreign policy towards Beijing and Moscow is short of political suicide. Instead of joining the inevitable brighter political future by pursuing a policy of cooperation, the US chooses to ignore China’s outstanding successes domestically (China just declared an end to poverty) and internationally with the BRI. Many observe the decay of the US economic power, which is the prelude to the demise of the US empire.
Washington irrationally chooses the path of a hybrid warfare against both China and Russia in its futile attempt to break their strategic alliance by demonising their governments and creating internal conflicts. In reality, “We are in the middle of a process where the effects of the new multipolar world are being strongly felt, especially in areas where the United States has lost its former power or had been forced to abandon, as a result of its loss of global power all over the world.”
US failure vis-à-vis Venezuela
Similarly, the US is committing political suicide by refusing to accept that Latin America—with few exceptions—is embracing a multipolar world. This has become evident not coincidentally since Hugo Chávez became president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 1999. The first noteworthy US political error occurred in 2002 with its endorsement of the short-lived coup attempt to overthrow Chávez.
The untimely death of Hugo Chávez in 2013 was taken as another opportunity by Washington for regime change in Venezuela. In the span of eight years since Chávez’s death Venezuela has undergone one of the most severe, inhuman and criminal economic warfare launched by the US with illegal unilateral coercive measures (wrongfully called sanctions) that are crippling the Venezuelan economic system. In 2015 the US falsely declared Venezuela an ”extraordinary threat” to its national security in order to justify escalating “sanctions” to this day.
Nevertheless, despite the cruel unilateral and illegal US coercive measures; despite the drop in world oil prices in 2017 coupled with internal “guarimbas” (riots); despite Canada’s infamous intervention with the formation of the OAS-led reactionary group of countries—the so-called Lima Group, now effectively defunct; despite the robbing of Venezuelan assets in the US and the UK; despite the internal treasonous and undemocratic opposition; despite everything, the Bolivarian revolution continues today with president Nicolás Maduro.
In a heartfelt article, Venezuelan-born sociologist María Páez Victor covers the modern history of Venezuela where “The United States, Canada and Europe are relentlessly attacking the legitimate, democratically elected Venezuelan government.” She also reminds us that president Maduro has clearly stated that Venezuela “… is decided and determined to create a world that is multipolar, pluri-polar, multi-centric. There is no one single economic model, we cannot permit that they impose upon us a single economic model, a single way of thinking.” We have seen this in the close and respectful relationship that Venezuela holds with most countries including China and Russia.
To be clear, illegal unilateral coercive measures are a tool used to weaken the will power of Venezuelans and co-opt them to turn their loyalty against their government. They have failed. The Bolivarian revolution remains strong and supported by the majority of the people. However, it is the extraterritoriality of “sanctions” that coerce other nations to abide by them and to become unwilling complicit participants in the “punishment” of Venezuelans. There the US may be achieving some heinous success thanks to its financial might.
There is a little known example of this regarding a diplomatic envoy of the Venezuelan government, Alex Saab, who was on a humanitarian mission to Iran at the time of his detention in June 2020, to arrange emergency shipments of food, medicine, and essential supplies for Venezuela. Venezuela is facing an extreme shortage of vital goods precisely because of US “sanctions.” Mr. Saab was held and imprisoned in the small archipelago of Cabo Verde (CV) off the Northwest coast of Africa at the “request” of the government of the United States. The highly illegal seizure of a diplomat—indeed, a kidnapping—was made under false accusations of money laundering that Swiss banks have disproven. Further, the request for Mr. Saab’s extradition to the US to face “charges” is entirely uncalled for as the US has no extradition treaty with CV. Yet, the CV government is still holding Mr. Saab in captivity after more than a year.
It appears that the US has made a mafia-like offer that the small nation of CV cannot refuse. On July 4 a local paper gave us the details: “The construction of the new embassy of the United States of America (USA) in Cape Verde will inject more than 100 million dollars into the Cape Verdean economy and will create hundreds of jobs during its execution.” That is almost 6% of the CV 2020 GDP! The Cape Verdean dignity was sold.
A campaign to free Alex Saab is under way in the US and Canada because the reality of this case is that Mr. Saab was within his right bypassing illegal US “sanctions” against his country by trading with Iran, which is also under US “sanctions,” and Washington set out to enforce its extraterritorial bullying power on CV. The US government is in contempt of international law and is committing a crime against humanity according to Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
But it’s the continued coup attempts, infowar, threats of military interventions, and full scale hybrid war—all of which break the UN and the OAS charters – that are the weapons of choice by US imperialism in order to dismantle the socialist Bolivarian project, Chavismo.
Fittingly, authors Joe Emersberger and Justin Podur, in their book Extraordinary Threat: The US Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela address “the real target of sustained US assault on Venezuela.” They claim that it is “not the country’s claimed authoritarianism nor its supposed corruption. It is Chavismo, the prospect that twenty-first century socialism could be brought about through electoral and constitutional means. This is what the US empire must not allow to succeed.” The authors convincingly state, “It is the US policy of regime change in Venezuela that constitutes an ‘extraordinary threat’ to Venezuelans.”
To conclude, it is important to take notice of a peculiar media note that was jointly released on June 25 by US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau.
A reading of the note reveals some interesting points aside from the obvious complicity in the aggression on Venezuela.
Most strikingly, it appears to be a “shameless admission of guilt in weaponising the world pandemic and so punishing innocent Venezuelans by preventing necessary COVID-19 vaccines to be sold to Venezuela.” A Swiss bank stopped the shipment of vaccines to Venezuela from the COVAX mechanism pending “investigation” despite payments already made. Notoriously, Swiss banks act under extraterritorial pressure from the US.
The note also suggests an admission of failure (or at least a change of strategy) to overthrow the Maduro government. The second to the last statement, following a litany of imperial conditions, says, “We call for electoral conditions that abide by international standards for democracy, beginning with the local and regional elections scheduled for November 2021.” This can only be interpreted as a clear recognition of the electoral process that Venezuela has just initiated.
The EU’s willingness to participate in the international observation process of the November elections by sending an “exploration mission” to Venezuela is viewed as a positive step.
On November 21 Venezuela will hold a major democratic election—the 26th since 1999—of all 23 state governors, 335 city mayors and 2,459 municipal councillors across the country. There will be 111 political parties fielding candidates. The majority are parties challenging the governing party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
It is not clear whether the extreme rightwing Juan Guaidó will participate in the elections—he has boycotted previous elections as instructed by Washington—but the lowering of his usual gross insulting tone against president Maduro and his apparent disposition to a dialogue may indicate that he might. In any case, the media note may also open the possibility for a new Washington hand-picked puppet to participate. After all Guaidó has had a long streak of failures at overthrowing the elected government of Nicolás Maduro since the beginning of 2019 when he declared himself “interim president” with the blessing of the United States.
Finally, it is important to keep an eye to the ever present possibility of deception. Is this seemingly routine statement by the US, EU and Canada a distraction from the visit of the Southern Command chief, Craig Faller, and the director of the CIA, William Burns, to Colombia and Brazil to discuss unexplained “important” issues?
President Maduro declared that the real purpose of the visit was to prepare a plan against Venezuela based on intelligence reports. Assassination attempts against Maduro have occurred before. Therefore, a word of caution in the face of a dying beast is never superfluous.
Featured image: Nicolás Maduro (center), his wife Cilia Flores (third from right) and Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino López (third from left), walking with personnel of the Bolivarian National Armed Force of Venezuela (FANB). Photo: Presidency of Venezuela
Nino Pagliccia is a Venezuelan-Canadian statistician who writes about international relations with a focus on the Americas. Nino Pagliccia has managed collaborative projects with Cuban partners in the University of British Columbia’s Global Health Research Program. He is the editor of "Cuba Solidarity in Canada—Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations" (2014). He has been the vice-president of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association in Vancouver and founding co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba. He has led groups doing volunteer work in Cuba for over 12 years.