This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
On August 4, 2020, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Venezuela. Appearing before the committee was U.S. State Department Special Representative Elliott Abrams. Abrams, who has had a long—and controversial—career in the formation of U.S. foreign policy, was assaulted by almost all the members of the Senate committee. The senators, almost without exception, suggested that Abrams had been—since 2019—responsible for a failed U.S. attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan government of President Nicolás Maduro.
The military threat against Venezuela escalated in 2019 with Juan Guaidó’s self-proclamation. His leadership, manufactured in the corridors of the White House, is tarnished by frequent indications from various emissaries of the U.S. government, including President Donald Trump, that “all options are on the table”.
When an incompetent US President hires as his “special envoy” for regime change in Venezuela the very same buffoon who fumbled his way into helping to expose the Iran-Contra scandal, one can expect anything.
Abrams, by helping to mistakenly wire funds he solicited from the Sultan of Brunei that, instead ended up in the Swiss bank account of a shipping magnate, brought inquisitive attention on the Iran-Contra caper by Swiss banking authorities.
The Trump administration is working to overthrow the government of Venezuela. They are not at this time doing this by military invasion, nor by funneling thousands of armed militants into the country, nor even solely with starvation sanctions and CIA ops. The first and foremost means of overthrowing Venezuela’s government currently being utilized by the United States government is the low-risk, low-cost plan to simply control the stories that everyone tells themselves about who is in charge in Venezuela.
The Trump administration set a 23 February deadline for Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to bow to U.S. demands and cede power to self-appointed “president” Juan Guaidó. Sanctions imposed by former U.S. president Barack Obama have been extended and deepened, costing Venezuela US$38 billion over the last three years, according to Venezuela’s vice president of planning, Ricardo Menendez.
A largely ignored story reported by the Lebanese magazine “Ash Shiraa” on November 3, 1986, soon blossomed into a major scandal involving the covert sale of US weapons to the government of Iran and the illegal supply of weapons to right-wing Nicaraguan rebels. The Lebanese magazine was the first to reveal that the Ronald Reagan administration was covertly selling arms to Iran in exchange for the release of seven American hostages by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
Dilma Rousseff was president of Brazil until overthrown in a soft coup in 2016. Hugo Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002. Maduro is being overthrown at the time of writing (2019).
As we watch a US-backed coup unfold in a distant country, as in Venezuela today, our eyes are drawn to the diplomatic, military, and economic elements of the US campaign. The picture of a scowling John Bolton with a big yellow notepad with the message “5,000 troops to Colombia” reveals the diplomatic and military elements. The New York Times headline “U.S. Sanctions Are Aimed at Venezuela’s Oil. Its Citizens May Suffer First” reveals the economic element.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, taking advantage of political bedlam inside the Donald Trump White House, has busied himself with “regime change” in Venezuela. Pompeo, working with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Iran-contra felon and arch-neo-conservative Elliott Abrams, worked secretly with Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “interim president,” Juan Guaido, to overthrow that nation’s duly-elected president, Nicolas Maduro.
For over two years we have been told Putin’s Russia has interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. We now find the U.S. government has decided it can unilaterally invalidate the actual presidential elections in Venezuela and recognize a person of its choosing as president. This is one more U.S.-backed coup attempt against progressive Latin American governments including Venezuela (2002), Haiti (2004, and every following election), Bolivia (2008), Honduras (2009), Ecuador (2010, 2015), Paraguay (2012), and Nicaragua (2018), just to name a few of the recent ones.
We are frequently told that people in Venezuela have no food, clothing or toilet paper, and that popular discontent with the left wing government is driven by real hunger. There are elements of truth in this story, though the causes of economic dislocation are far more complex than the media would have us believe.