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Imperialists’ secret moves on Venezuela now stand exposed

Farooque Chowdhury

Imperialists’ move to steal Venezuela’s assets and their secret preparations over a long period are now becoming known.

The US, the self-appointed guardian of “democracy”, has already seized $7 billion in assets of Venezuela by imposing sanctions against PDVSA, the state oil company of Venezuela. The imperialist power, declares that it likes “to help prevent the further diversion” of assets by “former president Maduro.” Who decides whose asset diversion on what legal authority? Shall some other country/people face the same reality tomorrow – unilateral decision by a self-appointed judge in matters of another country/people?

While Steven T Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary was announcing the sanction at the White House, John Bolton, the US national security adviser, according to press reports, standing next to Mnuchin, sounded: “We know what the legitimate government of Venezuela is, and it is our mission to make reality what the people of Venezuela want”. It’s “I know best”; it’s imperialists know “best”, it’s “I to decide arbitrarily”. Peoples in countries should take note of this attitude. With this attitude, none should feel safe as it’s imperialism’s “good wishes and disliking” that define logic and argument, fact and false, legal and illegal.

The fact that fails to hide is imperialism’s motive: grab Venezuela’s oil resources. Bolton has made the confession: The imperial power is interested in Venezuela’s oil.

Days ago, Bolton was speaking to Fox Business host Trish Regan, and the hawk said: The US had “a lot at stake” in Venezuela’s political crisis. (“John Bolton: I don’t think Maduro has the military on his side”, January 24, 2019) He mentioned the economic benefit Venezuela’s oil could bring to the empire. “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.”

Along with this exposed motive of the imperialist power its political operations, clandestine days ago, has also come to public eye. An exclusive report by the Associated Press has revealed the related facts. Nonetheless, a number of major members of the mainstream media have ignored the significant report. Intro of the report – “AP Exclusive: Anti-Maduro coalition grew from secret talks” (January 25/26, 2019) – by Joshua Goodman, Luis Alonso Lugo and Rob Gillies said:
“The coalition of Latin American governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president came together over weeks of secret diplomacy that included whispered messages to activists under constant surveillance and a high-risk foreign trip by the opposition leader challenging President Nicolas Maduro for power, those involved in the talks said.”

The 2nd paragraph made further revelation:
“In mid-December, Guaido quietly traveled to Washington, Colombia and Brazil to brief officials on the opposition’s strategy of mass demonstrations to coincide with Maduro’s expected swearing-in for a second term on Jan. 10 in the face of widespread international condemnation, according to exiled former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, an ally.”

The Caracas datelined report was like a detective story as it disclosed:
“To leave Venezuela, he sneaked across the lawless border with Colombia, so as not to raise suspicions among immigration officials who sometimes harass opposition figures at the airport and bar them from traveling abroad, said a different anti-government leader, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss security arrangements.”

The AP exclusive mentioned problems the allies of the imperialist power were facing:
“Building consensus in the fragmented anti-government coalition proved to be an uphill battle. The opposition has for years been divided by egos and strategy, as well as a government crackdown that has sent several prominent leaders into exile, making face-to-face meetings impossible. Others inside Venezuela were being heavily watched by intelligence agencies, and all were concerned about tipping off the government.”

So, the solution, according to the report, was:
“Long sessions of encrypted text messaging became the norm, the opposition leader said. A U.S. official said intermediaries were used to deliver messages to Guaido’s political mentor and opposition power broker Leopoldo Lopez, who is under house arrest after he tried and failed to lead a mass uprising against Maduro in 2014. The U.S. official spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns.”

There was suspense also, as the report said:
“Despite Guaido’s personal assurances in Bogota that he would declare himself interim president at a Jan. 23 rally […] the suspense lasted until the hours before the announcement, said a Latin American diplomat from the Lima Group who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Some moderate factions were left in the dark or wanted to go slower, worrying that a bold move would lead to another failure for the opposition. In the end, those differences were smoothed over internally, without any public discord.”

Along with the US, as the report narrates, two other “king makers” appear on the Venezuela stage: The Lima Group and Canada:  
“On Jan. 4 — a day before Guaido was sworn in as national assembly president — foreign ministers from 13 nations of the Lima Group […] said they wouldn’t recognize Maduro’s second term.”

And,
“Playing a key role behind the scenes was Lima Group member Canada, whose Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to Guaido the night before Maduro’s swearing-in ceremony to offer her government’s support should he confront the socialist leader, the Canadian official said. Also active was Colombia […] along with Peru and Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.”

The Wall Street Journal, in a report, told about the Trump administration’s secret plan offering support to Guaidó, which was tightly coordinated. The report – “Pence Pledged U.S. Backing Before Venezuela Opposition Leader’s Move” (January 25, 2019) – by Jessica Donati and Vivian Salama provides the picture: The night before Guaidó 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. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.

“That late-night call set in motion a plan that had been developed in secret over the preceding several weeks, accompanied by talks between U.S. officials, allies, lawmakers and key Venezuelan opposition figures, including Mr. Guaidó himself.”

The narration went on:
“A decisive moment came a week later in a White House meeting Jan. 22, the eve of protests in Venezuela, when Mr. Rubio along with Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans from Florida, were called to a White House meeting with Mr. Trump, Vice President Pence and others.”

And,
“Other officials who met that day at the White House included Messrs. Pompeo and Bolton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who presented Mr. Trump with options for recognizing Mr. Guaidó.”

And,
“Mr. Trump decided to do it. Mr. Pence, who wasn’t at that meeting, placed his phone call to Mr. Guaidó to tell him, ‘If the National Assembly invoked Article 233 the following day, the president would back him,’ the senior administration official said.”

The Washington Post presents some more facts in the report “With risks ahead, Trump administration pins hopes on Venezuela’s opposition” (by Anne Gearan and Karen De Young, January 24, 2018).

Citing current and former US officials the WaPo report uses the following expressions: “use the newly declared interim government as a tool to deny Maduro the oil revenue from the United States”. [Italicized] Yes, a tool it’s.

Again citing current and former US officials the report disclosed further as it said: “In Guaidó, the Trump administration found a figure on which to hang hopes”. Yes, the imperial power’s hope is that pro-imperialist political figure, obscure a few days ago, named Guaidó.

Citing an official in the US the report said: “We have been engaged [to] […] help organize the internal opposition […] But that internal piece was missing. He was the piece we needed for our strategy to be coherent and complete.” Yes, he, Guaidó, is, as his masters describe him, that internal piece imperialists search.

The intervention plan gets support from both factions of imperial ruling class. The WaPo report said:
“Many Democrats praised the decision, too, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a frequent Trump critic, who called it “an appropriate step.”

However, the imperialist drumbeat for “democracy” – intervention in different forms – is not going without question from within its camp. The report cites Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s statement: “We must also remember that America’s support for democracy and human rights must apply universally if it is to be credible.”

Thus, the Venezuela-interventionist logic turns hollow. The report said:
“That [told in Schiff’s statement] was a reference to […] a double standard, in which the White House tolerates or embraces some dictators and right-wing authoritarians but calls leftist and socialist authoritarians illegitimate.”

The Venezuela-interventionist argument turns baseless as, according to the WaPo report, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted: “Let me get this straight. The US is sanctioning Venezuela for their lack of democracy but not Saudi Arabia? Such hypocrisy. […] crippling sanctions or pushing for regime change will only make the situation worse.”

The report said: “Khanna also responded to an expression of support for the policy from Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) by saying, ‘US should not anoint the leader of the opposition in Venezuela during an internal, polarized conflict.’”

After these reports, shall anyone ignore imperialist intervention in Venezuela? The reports carry information on clandestine preparation by lackeys of imperialism, and direct intervention in Venezuela, and the driving force behind the intervention.

The significance of the present Venezuela-intervention is broad, which should not be missed by countries and political forces, especially by the political forces claiming to stand with people. The significance of the imperialist intervention is limited not only within Venezuela. It carries broader implication, which is not limited within Latin America, but to wider Asia-Africa region.

Imperialism will take similar moves – find out a quisling, assemble a political force faithful to its masters, trample constitution, challenge political authority legally and legitimately formed, and all these will be done under the banner of their “democracy”, which is essentially a political arrangement subservient to imperial order having no space for people. Technically/organizationally, these will be done with a long timeframe, with characters and political forces having dubious/confusing political program and stand, by exploiting people’s discontent, by establishing alliance with a part of progressive forces with confused political vision, by highlighting contradictions that can hide contradiction with imperialism.

Today’s Venezuela, thus, is a live theater of action from two sides: (1) It’s a ground to stand in fight against world imperialism; and (2) an example to learn, to get cautious, to sharpen political stand, to identify and shed off political confusion, to determine allies and hostile forces, to identify forces acting to implode people’s organizations. The people in Venezuela are showing a live political fight, which is going on for years. This brave people are mobilizing them for years in their fight against imperialism, and, at the same time, are organizing their economic activities and organizations, and their political fight concerning these economic activities. In today’s world, imperialism interferes whenever and wherever people try to move along democratic path. That’s one of the reasons for identifying Venezuela as an example, and to defend as the people in the land are at the forefront of fight against imperialism.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka.                           

Feb 2, 2019


Farooque Chowdhury [email protected]

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