2012-01-10 "After Iran, Venezuela?" by Mike Whitney from "Counterpunch"
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to
Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK
Press. He can be reached at email@example.com
“The build-up against Venezuela that began during the George W. Bush administration has rapidly accelerated under Obama.”– Eva Golinger, author of “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela”
Attorney and activist Eva Golinger has written an excellent piece on US-Venezuela relations that’s posted on her website Postcards from the Revolution. Golinger details the astonishing turnaround that Chavez has effected since he took office 12 years ago. Not only has Chavez routed the predatory oligarchs who once dominated Venezuelan politics, but his revolutionary social programs have also raised the standard of living for the poor and middle classes while strengthening the institutions that have transformed Venezuela into one of the hemishpere’s most vibrant democracies. Venezuela has seen a 50 percent reduction in poverty since Chavez took office in February, 1999. Venezuelans are now guaranteed free, universal healthcare, a K-through-college education, and civil liberties that are protected under the constitution. US citizens have every reason to be envious of the social safety net Chavez has created for his people via his Bolivarian Revolution.
Naturally, Chavez’s progressive policies have raised a few eyebrows in Washington where his successes are seen as a threat to the established order. Corporate mandarins regard Chavez as a troublemaker and they’re doing whatever they can to get rid of him ASAP. This is why one never reads anything positive about Chavez or his accomplishments in the US media, because the corporate bosses hate him, as they do anyone who diverts money from the 1 percent at the top of the economic foodchain to the 99 percent at the bottom.
US-Venezuela relations have continued to deteriorate under Barack Obama, who has turned out to be as big a disappointment to Chavez as he has to his supporters in the US. The Obama administration continues to fund the stealth network of US-backed NGOs that have been working around-the-clock to depose the democratically-elected leader for more than a decade. Golinger has written extensively on U.S. government agencies and their persistent meddling in Venezuela’s politics. Here’s an excerpt from Golinger’s post:
“Ever since the US-supported coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela failed in April 2002, Washington has been pursuing a variety of strategies to remove the overwhelmingly popular South American head of state from power. Multimillion-dollar funding to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela through US government agencies, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), has increased exponentially over the past ten years, as has direct political support through advisors, strategists and consultants- all aiming to help an unpopular and outdated opposition rise to power.
US government agencies, including the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, National Directorate of Intelligence and the Pentagon, have pumped up their hostile language towards the Venezuelan government in recent years. The major oil-producing nation has been placed on the countless, and baseless “lists” produced annually by Washington, including “failure to cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts”, “failure to aid in the war on terror”, “trafficking in persons”, and others, that are based on political decisions instead of concrete, substantial evidence to support their accusations. These classifications have enabled Washington to justify not only the millions of US taxpayer dollars channeled to anti-Chavez groups fronting as NGOs, but also to increase military presence in the region and convince public opinion that Hugo Chavez is an enemy.” (“War on Venezuela: Washington’s False Accusations Against The Chavez Government”, Eva Golinger, Postcards from the Revolution)
So, things have not improved under Obama at all, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. The US congress–whose public approval rating has plunged to single digits–is also beating the war drums against Chavez trying to garner support for direct intervention.
While Obama has refrained from name-calling or explicit accusations; his underlings in and out of the bureaucracy never hesitate to connect Chavez to Iran or to suggest links between Chavez and terrorism. Obama’s role in the smear campaign is as clear as his role in eviscerating the Bill of Rights with his recently-passed NDAA.
Here’s more from Golinger: “Other “commentators” and “analysts” are busy writing blogs and columns warning of the growing terrorist threat south of the US border. These dangerous, unfounded accusations could easily be used to justify an attack against Venezuela, as weapons of mass destruction was used against Iraq and “protecting the population” was used against Libya. ….Time again, Venezuela has shown there are no “terrorist training camps” on its soil. Nor is it secretly building a bomb to attack the US. Venezuela is a nation of peace. It does not invade, attack or threaten other countries.”
So, what does a peaceful country like Venezuela need to do to avert a confrontation with the United States?
Venezuela needs to become more like neighboring Colombia that Obama and others regularly hold up as a model of “democracy” in the region. Colombia –where human rights abuses and targeted assassinations are routine and where the US spends billions on a drug eradication program (Plan Colombia) that routinely sprays toxic (re: poison) chemicals on crops, livestock, water supplies and children.
Here’s a little background from Aljazeera: “In 2008, Colombian soldiers were revealed to have murdered possibly thousands of civilians and then dressed the corpses in FARC attire in order to receive bonus pay and extra holiday time. Juan Manuel Santos (who is now Colombia’s president) was serving as defence minister …when the “false positives” scandal broke…. Despite this and other details – such as that, since Uribe’s assumption of office, more trade unionists have been assassinated in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined …(Even so)…..the country has been applauded by the US State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank as a regional role model in confronting security threats ensures the fortification of a system in which profits depend on the perpetuation of insecurity.”(“Private security and ‘the Israelites of Latin America’”, Belen Fernandez, Aljazeera)
So, this is how one becomes America’s friend; just follow orders, kill and imprison your own people, (preferably trade unionists) and allow the corporate looting to go unchecked. No wonder the repressive Saudi dictatorship consistantly ranks so high on Washington’s Friend’s List.
So, what’s in store for Chavez, who’s done nothing except raise living standards, strengthen the rule of law, and make the world a better place for ordinary working people?
The Obama administration presently has its hands full with its wars in Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But as soon as Obama is finished “liberating” Tehran, it’ll be on to Venezuela. You can bet on it. After all, Venezuela sits on the biggest ocean of oil in the world, “over 500 billion barrels”. That means it’s only a matter of time before WMD and Al Qaida training camps are discovered in Caracas.