I thought I had said what I had to say about the situation in Venezuela but yesterday I received an email from an old friend with an article by John Pilger attached.
Australian journalist and documentary film maker, John Pilger, is one of the world’s essential old-pro, big-C communicators, along with the likes of Sy Hersh, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and very few others. Based in the UK for most of his life he worked all over the world for the Daily Mirror from 1963 until shortly after the Murdoch takeover in 1985. He never looked back, writing for quality publications worldwide and making 60 documentary films for ITV, always from the point of view of a professional and compassionate observer, always prepared to speak truth to power. He said this on Twitter yesterday:
Like a page from Alice’s tea party, the Trump administration has presented Guaido, a pop-up creation of the CIA-front National Endowment for Democracy, as “legitimate President of Venezuela”. Unheard of by 81% of the people (source: @thenation), Guaido has been elected by no one.
Martha Gellhorn, the American novelist, journalist and war correspondent, has said:
John Pilger has taken on the great theme of justice and injustice… He documents and proclaims the official lies that we are told and that most people accept or don’t bother to think about. He belongs to an old and unending worldwide company, the men and women of conscience. Some are as famous as Tom Paine and William Wilberforce, some as unknown as a tiny group calling itself Grandmothers Against The Bomb…. If they win, it is slowly; but they never entirely lose. To my mind, they are the blessed proof of the dignity of man. John has an assured place among them. I’d say he is a charter member for his generation. (Source: Wikipedia)
Given the rapidly-evolving crisis in Venezuela I feel obliged to pass his article on to you:
This Feb. 15 report from The Real News affirms that recognition of Guidó’s “government” violates international law.
American Diplomatic and Military Firepower Has Brought About Regime Change in Several Latin American Countries and Venezuela Is Next on Their List
Admittedly, the Americans did achieve regime change in Chile, El Salvador, Argentina, Guatemala and other smaller places, though they failed notably in Cuba despite decades of furibund efforts. The case of Guatemala is fascinating. After financing, training and arming an army of thugs to wipe out tens of thousands of indigenous Guatemalans they found that their most effective weapon was old-time religion in the form of American fundamentalist Pentecostal and Evangelical missionaries. Today the latest in a series of born-again Guatemalan presidents, Jimmy Morales, seems to be cut from Trumpian cloth with a checkered history of economic, political and sexual irregularities.
So, according to the usual Washington wisdom, the government of twice-elected President Nicolas Madero–with one of those elections certified free and fair by America’s own Jimmy Carter–is on its last legs. If events follow the script he will soon be replaced, in a curious excercise of auto-appointment, by a young man who recently stepped into the Venezuelan political limelite out of nowhere. Where do these right-wing nowhere men come from, anyway? Contrary to what the mainline media would have us believe, he did not show up by accident or coincidence.
The National Security Council’s most-recent pop-up nowhere man is Juan Guaidó and the following account of his overnight rise to notoriety is based on a long article by investigative journalists, Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal, published on the latter’s Grayzone Project website. It’s entitled: The Making of Juan Guaidó: How the US Regime Change Laboratory Created Venezuela’s Coup Leader. (I heartily recommend reading the full article. Here’s the link.)
Here’s Where “President” Guaidó Comes From
According to Cohen and Blumenthal, “Juan Guaidó is the product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers. While posing as a champion of democracy, he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization.”
Here are just a few of the points that Blumenthal and Cohen make in their article, details that the sanitized media has not seen fit to publish:
Only a few months ago, the 35-year-old was an obscure character in a politically marginal far-right group closely associated with gruesome acts of street violence. But after a single phone call from from US Vice President Mike Pence, Guaidó proclaimed himself president of Venezuela. Anointed as the leader of his country by Washington, a previously unknown political bottom-dweller was vaulted onto the international stage as the US-selected leader of the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves.
While Guaidó seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, he was, in fact, the product of more than a decade of assiduous grooming by the US government’s elite regime change factories. Alongside a cadre of right-wing student activists, Guaidó was cultivated to undermine Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government, destabilize the country, and one day seize power.
In 2002, Venezuela’s right-wing opposition briefly ousted Chávez with US support and recognition, before the military restored his presidency following a mass popular mobilization. Throughout the administrations of US Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Chávez survived numerous assassination plots, before succumbing to cancer in 2013. His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has survived three attempts on his life.
On October 5, 2005, with Chávez’s popularity at its peak and his government planning sweeping socialist programs, five Venezuelan “student leaders” arrived in Belgrade, Serbia to begin training for an insurrection. The students had arrived from Venezuela courtesy of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies, or CANVAS. This group is funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government’s main arm of promoting regime change; and offshoots like the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
And there are 32 richly-illustrated pages more, here..
The Economic Route to Regime Change
In an article by Marjorie Cohn published in Truthout.com on February 2, 2019, she says:
From engineering coups in Chile and Guatemala, to choreographing a troop landing at the Bay of Pigs intended to establish an exile government in Cuba, to training Latin American strongmen at the School of the Americas in torture techniques to control their people, the United States has meddled, interfered, intervened and undermined the democracies it claims to protect. Now, Vice President Mike Pence, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and the infamous Elliott Abrams are working with opposition groups in Venezuela to carry out a coup d’état.
In addition to the oil sanctions, the US State Department turned over control of Venezuela’s property and bank accounts in the United States to Guaidó, in what The New York Times called “one of Washington’s most overt attempts in decades to carry out regime change in Latin America.”
According to Cohn, the former UN Special Rapporteur, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, says the United States is waging “economic warfare” against Venezuela. In his report to the Human Rights Council, de Zayas recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate whether “economic war, embargoes, financial blockades and sanctions regimes amount to geopolitical crimes and crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute.”
The Not-So-Inevitable Endgame
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, and the United States, lying just 2,799 miles across the Caribbean to the north, is its biggest customer. Wouldn’t it be convenient if American petroleum interests could somehow “annex” all that Venezuelan oil by installing a “cooperative” government in its southern neighbor?
The legal and moral implications of such a move are irrelevant as far as the Trump administration is concerned. But, “somehow,” remains the question.
Let’s Look Beyond the Sterilized Media for the Truth about US Efforts to Destabilize Venezuela
After more than 20 years of overt and covert hostile actions in Venezuela the US and its allies are finally ready to close the deal on another vanquished Latin American country. It looks to them like a slam-dunk, but it might not be so simple, despite the national-security dream team appointed by President Donald Trump to run the show. Before we go any further, let’s take a brief look at their rap sheets:
Retired State Department veteran, Eliot Abrams–Abrams, President Trump’s recently-appointed “Special Envoy to Venezuela” and chief of the team, has a history that dates back to the Reagan presidency when, according to Eric Alterman writing in The Nation on 2 February, 2017, he spent his time “abetting genocide” and was actually convicted in court of lying to Congress regarding his role in the Iran-Contra affair. (He was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush.) In a world-class show of irony Abrams, just before he was named Ronald Reagan’s “assistant secretary of state for human rights,” aided Guatemala’s dictator–and mass murderer–General Efraín Ríos Montt in planning and executing “acts of genocide” against the indigenous people in the Ixil region of the department of Quiché. .
But Abram’s most egregious performance as a State Department agent during the Reagan administration was his skillful coverup of the El Mozote massacre that occured in El Salvador in December of 1981, a barbarous incident he was reminded of just the other day by Rep. Ilhan Omar in questioning during the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Venezuela. In that little Salvadorean town members of the U.S.-backed Salvadoran army, allegedly during a hunt for leftist guerrillas, slaughtered at least 800 civilians as part of its brutal counterinsurgency.
This graphic witness account of the atrocity appears in the Washington Post: “We could hear the women being raped on the hills,” one witness told journalist Mark Danner, author of The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War. “And then, you know, the soldiers would pass by, coming from there, and they’d talk about it. You know, they were talking and joking, saying how much they liked the 12-year-olds.”
On Wednesday, Abrams balked at Omar’s line of questioning, deeming it “ridiculous,” and ultimately refused to answer her questions.Nearly four decades after the El Mozote massacre, as a member of George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff, Abrams aided and abetted a military coup against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela. Though that 2002 golpe de estado was only briefly successful before being reversed by the Venezuelan military, it did succeed in souring the US relationship with Venezuela to this day. As Eric Alterman concludes in his article in The Nation, “If Abrams had abetted genocide against Jews instead of Guatemalans, it might not have disqualified him from a top diplomatic position in the Trump administration, but he would at least have been treated as a pariah in the media, the establishment, and, one certainly hopes, the world of professional Jews. These days, however, it’s hard to be certain of anything.” .
Secretary of State and ex-CIA Director Mike Pompeo–Pompeo is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement. After six years as a US Representative from Kansas, President Trump named him Secretary of State. In 2014 Pompeo, commenting on the inclusion of a telecast by Edward Snowden at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, requested that it be cancelled, predicting that it would encourage “lawless behavior” among attendees. (Andrea Drusch in Politico, 9 March, 2014). Two years later Pompeo was quoted as saying that Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence” (Pete Kasperowicz, Washington Examiner, 11 February, 2016). .
Pompeo is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church since 2000 and serves as a church deacon as well as teaching Sunday school (Katherine Burgess in the Wichita Eagle, 19 April, 2018). In 2015 in a talk at a church, Pompeo said that “politics is a never-ending struggle … until the Rapture.” One wonders if Pompeo’s Evangelical religious convictions extend to advocating all-out war in the Holy Land in order to precipitate the Apocalypse and propel his people–and himself–directly into Heaven. His posturing on the Iran issue would seem to suggest that.
National Security Advisor, John Bolton–According to Wikipedia, Bolton has a formidable far-right pedigree. He is a former senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, senior advisor for Freedom Capital Investment Management, and a Fox News Channel commentator. He is also involved with a number of right-wing think tanks, policy institutes and special interest groups, including the Institute of East-West Dynamics, the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the Project for the New American Century, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, the Council for National Policy, and the Gatestone Institute. Google any one of these groups to see how it fits neatly into one of the most retrograde slots in the American political jigsaw puzzle. .
Moreover, Bolton’s consistent personal policy of advocating war around the world makes him a dangerous person to be sitting in the seat of President Trump’s National Security Advisor. It is an ironic position for a person who kept his head down during the Vietnam War, first in the Maryland Army National Guard and later in the U.S. Army Reserve. From 2013 until March 2018, this warmongering terrier was chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a nonprofit organization that has been criticized for disseminating false anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim information, where Bolton published articles on Iran and other topics.
Senator Marco Rubio (R. Florida)–Marco Rubio’s claim to fame appears to be based on his rating of 98.67 by the American Conservative Union, based on his lifetime voting record in the Senate. If that’s not recommendation enough, according to the National Journal, in 2013 Rubio was the 17th most conservative senator. .
Why the Persecution of Venezuela?
What motivates the Trump government to take such a truculent stance on Venezuela, anyway? First and foremost there are Venezuela’s oil reserves–the richest confirmed deposits in the world. Though they’re seldom mentioned in the polite company of the American media, they are certainly objectives of public and private American avarice. The Venezuelans are also blessed–or cursed–with fabulous veins of gold and diamonds. Another factor in the American badgering of Venezuela is its left-wing government, something no American politician of whatever stripe can countenance. Nevertheless, no member of President Trump’s Venezuela-regime-change team will ever mention these prima facie factors. They all maintain that their objective is to “defend the Venezuelan constitution.” Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy?
What are their chances of success in toppling the Maduro government? In the words of William Arkin, author of Top Secret America and a cogent critique of the American policy of perpetual war, “Whenever the US bumbles into those countries, it fuels and galvanizes the opposition.” That’s what they discovered in Afghanistan and Iraq and what might well happen in Venezuela if push comes to shove. The ironic thing about the Americans’ armed visits to resource-rich countries is that, after decades of working off the same playbook, they still can’t get it right. In Iraq, for example, after winning the war by massive use of superior air power and bribing the commanding officers of Saddam’s elite Republican Guard, they ineptly paved the way for an elected Shiite government. They apparently forgot that Iran, adjacent to Iraq and the Americans’ principal enemy in the Middle East by their own estimation, was a solidly Shiite country with just a smattering of Sunni Moslems and Jews. Thus, by virtually delivering the Iraqi government to the Shiites, the American strategists succeeded in spectacularly strengthing the Iranians in the region. (Yes, thousands of Jews–the largest community in the Middle East outside of Israel– live peacefully in Iran.)