It was something I predicted since February last year, but I won’t pretend to have any expertise on the subject – anyone with even a vague knowledge of Latin American history would have been able to speculate quite rightly the heightening possibility of a coup in Venezuela. And it should also come as no surprise that the US government intends on backing it, most likely with Brazil and Columbia in tow.
Ever since Chavez came into power in the late 1990’s, the US’ attitude towards Venezuela has been increasingly hostile, including a coup attempt that ultimately failed in 2002. Last November, National Security Advisor John Bolton made a statement about facing the “troika of tyranny” in Latin America, of which Venezuela was one of the countries, along with Cuba and Nicaragua (the latter is also on my list of countries expected to face a coup, added around April-May of last year). This threat came with praise for Jair Bolsonaro’s win in Brazil, a rule that has already increased violence incitement towards minorities, and troubling plans for the environment and Indigenous peoples.
What is important about this, however, is not what your think of the Maduro regime. Since 2013 he has been increasingly authoritarian in his attempt to handle economic mismanagement (throwing ideological phrases like socialist and capitalist just muddy the waters and hype up rhetoric, so I’ll refrain from considering those). Regardless of the original economic system, it has now become a stumbling dictatorship of sorts. Part of the issue has to do with outside interference, such as the US sanctions on the country – remember, it isn’t because Venezuela is ‘socialist’ that the US elite hate them, it’s because Chavez nationalised their oil industry.
The issue now isn’t so much whether the Venezuelan system was working or not – that was an issue for the Venezuelans to sort out themselves – but instead whether to keep the authoritarian Venezuelan government in place or initiate a coup that will, essentially, retain or intensify that level of authoritarianism under an unelected government thrown in by foreign powers. Anyone with any beliefs in freedom and self-determination, that has any knowledge of how US backed coups work, would know that the Venezuelan people will suffer immensely under a US backed coup and government. What should have been done from the start is a de-escalation of tensions in the region and diplomatic pressure put on the government in support of the people (which, despite what many Americans would try and tell you, is not the goal in regime change). Supporting US and international elite interests has nothing to do with the people, and as Brazil has shown in the last month, the governments the US considers allies are not welcome aspirations.
An open letter has been signed by many in opposition to this attempted coup. All we can do now is wait and see where it leads – it’s entirely possible China or Russia may become involved.
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