No other country in the world is being subjected to the type of regime change strategy that the Trump administration is applying to Venezuela. Only in the case of Venezuela has Washington done so much to promote international support in favor of a parallel government. Meanwhile, the mainstream media fails to take up in any way the arguments that expose the fallaciousness and inhumanity of the sanctions imposed against Venezuela. At a recent press conference on April 2, a reporter told Trump he has a moral responsibility to help Iran as it is hit by the coronavirus. No mention was made about Venezuela. Why Iran and not Venezuela? Three reasons stand out:
1. The conflict with Iran is a partisan issue. The 2015 nuclear arms agreement with Iran was engineered by the Obama administration, the same that imposed sanctions against Venezuela by calling it an “extraordinary and unusual threat” to U.S. national security. It is thus not surprising that the Democratic Party leadership is critical, though mildly so, of U.S. policy toward Iran, while throwing support toward Trump’s regime change efforts in Venezuela.
2. The Iranian government has a military capacity in the Middle East that threatens U. S. presence in the region. Iran’s militia allies such as Hezbollah serve as a dissuasive force. This is a reality that the Pentagon and Washington policy makers are very aware of. In contrast, Venezuela represents no military threat at all to the United States. The Trump administration’s claim that Venezuela is allied with dissident FARC Colombian guerrillas intent on creating disruptions is a bogus charge. Venezuela has no equivalent to Hezbollah operating in the region.
3. Venezuelan democracy allows for the existence of a legal opposition whose right-wing factions represented by Juan Guaidó, among others, are Washington surrogates. There is no equivalent movement operating within Iran. This situation strengthens the U.S. position in Venezuela, while weakening it in Iran. Ironically, democracy, which is supposedly what Washington is attempting to promote, disadvantages the Maduro government, while the lack of it strengthens the position of Iran.
The mainstream media, rather than address these three key issues, accepts, or refrains from questioning, the Trump administration’s current justification for singling out Venezuela to achieve regime change: that Venezuela is a narco-state. The media holds back from pointing to the obvious fallacies of Trump’s claims. a. that according to official statistics 84 per cent of the drug trafficking from South America uses Pacific routes while only 7 percent pass through Venezuela and other eastern Caribbean areas b. why is the Southern Command lining up navy ships along the Venezuelan coast on grounds that drug traffickers will use the coronavirus to inundate U.S. markets, instead of surveilling the Pacific coast? and c. Why doesn’t the Trump administration take its drug charges against Maduro to an international tribunal?
At this point Venezuela is receiving belligerent treatment from the U.S. largely without precedent in peace time situations. In just one week, the Trump administration announced a 15 million dollar award for help in capturing Maduro, among other members of his government. Then it unveiled a plan of transition to achieve democracy beginning with Maduro’s resignation. Then it announced that it was sending Navy ships to the Venezuelan coast ostensibly to beef up counter-narcotics operations.
In short, Venezuela is being ganged up on while the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, some alternative media, most U.S. liberals and much of the world are just standing by.
Steve Ellner is a retired professor from Venezuela’s Universidad de Oriente and currently an Associate Managing Editor of Latin American Perspectives. He is the editor of the recently released “Latin America’s Pink Tide: Breakthroughs and Shortcomings.”