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The US, Venezuela & Columbia


In Venezuela, the US has tried even more drastic measures, like supporting a military coup that (briefly) overthrew the democratically elected government in 2002.

The US had to back down in the face of enormous protest in Latin America, where democracy is taken much more seriously than among US political leaders, and because the coup was quickly reversed by a popular uprising. Since then it has resorted to subversion and other measures. But the situation is quite different from Colombia. There the US effectively controls the government, and is attacking guerrillas and is also engaged in the long-term project of driving peasants off the land so that it can be cleared for resource extraction, agribusiness export, etc. In Venezuela the enemy is the government and its popular supporters, mostly the poor majority. So tactics have to be completely different. Each country poses its own tactical necessities.

…Several years ago, the [Columbian] guerrillas had an identifiable political program, which appealed to large elements of the poor majority in a very rich country with highly concentrated wealth and tremendous suffering. One of the successes of Clinton’s Plan Colombia is that it militarized the conflict, and by now it’s likely that the guerrillas are seen by campesinos and indigenous people as just another terrorist army, like the Colombian military and the paramilitaries that have been closely linked to it. US direct involvement in counterinsurgency goes back to Kennedy, who sent a special forces mission to Colombia in 1962 which advised “paramilitary terror” directed against “known Communist proponents” — a broad term in counterinsurgency rhetoric, which refers to union leaders, priests working with peasants, human rights activists, etc. This was only part of a massive wave of repression that included military coups in Brazil and other countries, later Chile, finally Reagan’s murderous terrorist wars in Central America. Throughout it’s about the same, and the leading scholar-advocates of Reagan-Bush “democracy promotion”
don’t conceal the facts. E.g., Thomas Carothers… Throughout, the basic principle is that we have to “protect our resources” (as George Kennan put it), and that means beating down and destroying popular movements, including democratic governments, that threaten the dominance of local elites closely linked to US investors and government. No secrets there. The documentary is overwhelming, and accords closely to the history. All matters that I (along with others) have written about extensively in book after book

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