The U.S. and the Confrontation in Venezuela


T-Letterhe U.S. media is almost unanimously propagating the falsehoods that the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is using violence against the opposition, that the U.S. government is not trying to promote a coup, and that Maduro is destroying the economy by continuing the transition to socialism begun by Hugo Chavez.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Regarding a coup, the media must be blind if it believes that the U.S. is not backing the opposition to the hilt in its efforts to overthrow Maduro. This is the Administration that declares it can use drones to kill anyone it judges to be a terrorist without any due process. And as Edward Snowden’s documents reveal, the U.S. believes it has the right to spy on and intervene in the affairs of countries around the world, including allies.

The economic situation in Venezuela recalls that of Salvador Allende and the Popular Unity government that I witnessed from 1970 to 1973. Richard Nixon ordered the CIA “to make the economy scream.” The destabilization of the economy was a critical factor leading to the military coup. The opposition in Venezuela is also hell-bent on destroying the economy, using the capitalist marketplace to cause speculation, inflation, shortages of commodities, and capital flight. What is occurring in Venezuela is a critical battle in the struggle for national sovereignty and 21st century socialism. At the fifth annual gathering of the World Social Forum on January 30, 2005, Hugo Chavez declared: “It is necessary to transcend capitalism…through socialism, true socialism with equality and justice.” As part of the roaring crowd of 15,000 at the Gigantinho stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, I heard Chavez go on to say: “We have to re-invent socialism. It can’t be the kind of socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop new systems that are built on cooperation, not competition.” This is an historic call to confront capitalist-dominated globalization, the mammoth transnational corporations that promote hyper-speculation, the concentration of wealth, perpetual conflict for markets, and the destruction of the environment.

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Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) based in Berkeley, California. He has written extensively on Latin America and U.S. foreign policy for over four decades.