By Ted Snider – Dec 6, 2021
What’s changed in Venezuela and Cuba since Biden became President? Nothing. But as US foreign policy on those two great threats to America continues seamlessly on from the Trump presidency to the Biden presidency, there’s something the White House and the media don’t want you to know.
Though you’d barely know it from the media, Venezuela just had an important election. Though not a presidential election, the regional elections were significant because, since the opposition fully participated for the first time in several years, the election was an obvious referendum on Maduro’s presidency.
If you listen to press statements from the White House or to the media, the outcome should have been obvious. Oppressed Venezuelans living under an illegitimate dictatorship finally had the chance to vote for the government they really want. Had the opposition won, the media would have been full of front page stories on the ouster of Nicolás Maduro and the party of Hugo Chávez.
But the opposition didn’t win. So the media kept it secret.
Convinced that the party of Chávez and Maduro would win when the US didn’t want it to win, the US pressured the opposition to boycott previous elections to make the unpalatable elections appear illegitimate. The people elected Maduro and supported his government. When that didn’t work, the US pressured the opposition parties to run in hopes of defeating Maduro. But the people elected the party of Maduro.
Nothing has changed across generations of US administrations in Venezuela. The United States takes Chávez out in a coup; the people of Venezuela put him back in office. The States pressures the opposition to boycott the election; the people of Venezuela put Maduro in office. The States pressures the opposition to compete in the election; the people of Venezuela put the party of Maduro in office. When the opposition boycotts, the US says the election is illegitimate; when the opposition participates, the US says the election is illegitimate.
But despite US meddling and the attempt, once again, to overturn a Venezuelan election in a silent coup, the election was not illegitimate. A delegation of election observers from an American legal group, amongst other election observers, said the election was “balanced and transparent.” Not only Maduro supporters, but “voters aligned with opposition parties also expressed confidence in the voting system.”
Election monitors from the European Union said that “The electoral process showed the persistence of structural deficiencies, although electoral conditions improved compared to the three previous national elections.” Improvement over previous elections is not bad, since international observers have consistently certified Venezuelan elections as fair, and the Carter Center has called Venezuela’s election process “the best in the world.”
The fairly represented and contested election produced the same result as prior elections. Chavez and Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 20 of 23 governorships. They also won the huge majority of mayoral elections.
That is not the result the US wanted. So, despite the fairness and transparency of the election, Secretary of State Blinken issued a statement charging that “The Maduro regime deprived Venezuelans yet again of their right to participate in a free and fair electoral process, during Venezuela’s November 21 regional and local elections.”
The American election observers responded that they “reject the US State Department’s false characterization that Venezuelans were denied “their right to participate in a free and fair electoral process.”
The US continues to ignore the voice of the Venezuelan people and once again, despite the obvious election results, the State Department’s statement, stubbornly refers to Juan Guaidó as the “interim president.”
The US government and the mainstream media want you to believe that the people of Venezuela have never had a choice and have had an unwanted dictatorship forced upon them. The story the media does not want you to hear is that America’s presidential choice, Juan Guaidó, represents a coalition that is largely discredited, does not enjoy the support of the people and does not even enjoy the support of the moderate opposition. When given the chance to vote, whether the opposition is boycotting or participating, the people consistently choose the party of Chávez and Maduro.
The way the American government and media tell it, the next series of huge street protests will be enough to bring down a fragile Cuban government that is barely holding on to power. That’s the story they’ve been telling for seventy years.
And that’s the story they recently told again. The current round of protests had been carefully planned for months. The nationwide “Marches for Change” was scheduled for November 15. The Biden administration endorsed the demonstrations. So did congress: on November 3, the House of Representatives voted 382-40—and you thought they couldn’t agree on anything—for a resolution declaring “strong solidarity” with “courageous Cuban men, women, and youth taking to the streets in cities and towns across the country.”
What the media and the government doesn’t want to tell you is that, once again, it didn’t happen. Stephen Kinzer reports that “Anti-government protests that were supposed to engulf the country in mid-November turned out to be far smaller than their promoters in Washington hoped.” And, of course, the government is nowhere close to falling.
The false narrative has failed despite American efforts to intervene and support it. In October, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel accused the US embassy of “playing an active role in efforts to subvert the internal order in our country.” That is not just rhetoric or hyperbole. Cuba expert William LeoGrande reports that the US embassy in Havana “has taken a leading role supporting dissident activists, pushing the boundaries of what’s normally allowed under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” Cuban journalist Rosa Miriam Elizalde reports that “in September, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gave $6,669,000 in grants for projects aimed at ‘regime change’ in Cuba.” Juan González, the senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council recently said that the Biden administration is “fully committed to supporting, supporting and strengthening the voice of the Cuban people who want change.” LeoGrande says that “The United States and Cuba are on a collision course over US diplomats’ support for ‘democracy promotion’ programs.”
In both Venezuela and Cuba the US has aggressively intervened in an attempt to make a desired and imagined plot come true. In both countries that attempt has failed. But in both cases that has not stopped the US from telling that story.
Featured image: Cubans celebrate the Revolutionary Armed Forces Day (December 2) in commemoration of the 1956 landing of the ship Granma carrying Fidel Castro and 81 other revolutionaries. Photo: Juvenal Balán