The propaganda wheels are turning fast. The barrage of anti-Venezuela misinformation that began while Bush was in office has intensified in recent months. Not a week goes by without the U.S. mainstream media running at least one story about the “dictatorial” Venezuelan government. Historically, the U.S. government’s foreign policy “coincidentally” matches the opinion of the media and vice versa.
A front page New York Times article on August 2, 2009 cited “new evidence” that the Venezuelan government “still” supports the FARC — a peasant-based guerrilla group that has fought the Colombian government for decades.
This “new evidence” is a mere recycling of the last tactical attempt to link the Venezuelan government with the FARC: computers were supposedly confiscated from FARC leaders that showed innumerable ties to Venezuelan government officials. Of course anybody can write anything on a computer and say it came from somewhere else. Evidence like this needs only a willing accomplice — the media — to legitimize it.
The Venezuelan government denies the accusations. But even if Venezuela maintained a policy of openly supporting the FARC, it would be more justifiable than the U.S. policy of openly supporting the Colombian government. Colombia is the most-hated and repressive government in the western hemisphere, but the U.S. gives billions of dollars of financial, military and political aide. This despicable relationship has not ended under Obama, but has in fact strengthened.
The recent announcement that the U.S. military would move potentially thousands of troops to Colombia, where they will access five Colombian military bases, has put Venezuela and the rest of Latin America on alert. The Obama administration has not explained the move publicly, though Latin Americans need no explanation.
The continent has a long history of being exploited by U.S. corporations, who work in tandem with the U.S. government to oust “non-cooperative” governments, using countless tactics to meet their objectives including clandestine C.I.A. coups.
The recent U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras sent shockwaves throughout the region, exposing the Obama administration for what it is: yet another government dedicated to the interests of the super-wealthy and corporations, who want their “investments” in Latin America to be protected from “populist” governments who redistribute wealth and land.
U.S. corporations have felt their power slipping in the hemisphere for years, much of it due to the influence of Venezuela. This is because social movements in Venezuela have advanced further than anywhere else in the world — factories have been taken over and run by workers, community councils make local decisions democratically, land is being taken over by peasants, independent media is spreading, and the property of U.S. corporations has been taken over to be used for the needs of the average Venezuelan. Although the vast majority of these gains are due to the work of grassroots Venezuelans, the government has not only given approval to such actions, but often is responsible for suggesting the ideas.
Venezuela’s example has dramatically changed the political landscape in Latin America, inspiring millions. For the first time, governments and social movements alike feel empowered to oppose U.S. corporate dominance and instead are seeking to arrange their economies in ways that benefit the majority of people.
In Venezuela these ideas are often referred to as 21st century socialism, and the rest of the hemisphere is clamoring to get on board. The battle of ideas between 21 st century socialism and free-market capitalism has already been settled in the region, with capitalism facing utter defeat.
Having lost in the realm of ideas, those supporting capitalism must compensate by other means. Barack Obama is a very outspoken devotee of capitalism, and has shown by his coup in Honduras — and also the military build-up in Colombia — that he will go to any length to prop-up U.S. corporations and rich investors in the region.
There can be absolutely no doubt that Obama will seek to undermine the Venezuelan government by any means available, including the very real possibility of a proxy invasion through Colombia. None of these attempts to undermine the advances in Venezuela and other countries will benefit the peoples of Latin America or the United States, minus a tiny minority of the super wealthy. With this kind of understanding often comes organizing and action, with the ultimate aim to end U.S. economic and military intervention abroad, not only in Latin America, but the Middle East and beyond.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]