In February, I predicted to some of my friends that Venezuela and Iran were the next likely candidates to fall to US interventionism (a couple of months later I tentatively added Nicaragua to the list as a possibility). Since then, an assassination attempt against Maduro took place in August, and Trump’s handling of the Iran situation has only exacerbated the divide between the two countries. While the latter can be partially attributed to the Trump Administration’s incompetence, both of these events follow imperialist patterns used by the US since the 1800’s. Iran appears to be holding firm against US rhetoric, but cracks in Venezuela’s once popular government have been visible for some time.
The United States’ meddling in Central and Latin American affairs began during a smooth transition in their favour from the European colonial powers, mainly Spain and Portugal. As early as 1898, they were aiding Cuba against Spanish rule, only to replace them as the foreign power in the region. In Venezuela, which holds highly sought after oil and natural resources, the US had friendly relations with compliant governments that gave concessions to US corporations regarding oil contracts. The local political and economic elite were more than happy to accommodate US interests at the expense of the Venezuelan people’s well-being.
In 1998, Hugo Chavez won the Presidency in democratic elections and remained the country’s popular leader until his death in 2013 (Maduro was a part of Chavez’s government later on). He turned the country’s focus away from foreign interests and to those of the people. In 2002, the US attempted a coup against the Chavez government but failed to topple them. Now, under Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime, it looks as though the region is looking at another go overthrowing the Venezuelan government. Economic sanctions from the US and Maduro’s own lacking economic management have left him and his party grasping to retain power, resorting to desperate measures that have alienated the people and ‘legitimised’ US intervention.
Neighbouring Colombia has had the question of cooperating with NATO raised in May-June under Juan Manuel Santos’ government, and recently elected Iván Duque Márquez has pledged support with the US to put pressure on Maduro. Both they and Brazil have also moved troops to their respective borders with Venezuela to handle migrants and refugees, raising tensions. Maduro accused Colombia of the assassination attempt on his life, a claim they deny. Some have even suggested it was a ploy by Maduro’s government as a scare tactic against their own people to garner support. The event also fits the US pattern in the region, so neither theory would be surprising if true – time will tell.
For now, we can only wait, but as the months go by it is becoming clearer that Maduro’s regime may not last much longer.