Washington’s Take on Democracy in Venezuela
In the early years of the revolution, Fidel Castro contrasted the long line of Latin American ‘golpistas’ to the fact that he and his followers came to power by winning militarily over Batista’s US-backed army. Since that time, almost every Latin American country has experienced left-wing power gained through the ballot box. Most famously, that of Chili’s President Allende, ended violently, however none have been so openly challenged by Washington as that of Nicholas Maduro, the designated successor to the Bolivarian Revolution’s Hugo Chavez.
From what we can see on France 24, this is not a popular uprising as alleged by Juan Guaido, nor is the Maduro government a military dictatorship, the latest descriptive term used on US television. But that doesn’t matter; Washington declares that “the Venezuelan people are demanding ‘freedom and democracy’”. Until now, in the American lexicon ‘freedom and democracy’ had to be won at the ballot box. But when it comes to Venezuela’s oil, if it takes a threat of violence, that’s ok. The fact that the Venezuelan military continues to stand by Nicholas Maduro proves that it internalized Chavez’s socialist ideology, as was clear from declarations by the Minister of Defense, Vladimir Padrino. when Guido launched his bid for power a few months ago.
While the EU has followed the US line, Spain’s reaction to the events in Venezuela is the same as the one it adopted vis a vis the Cuban Revolution. Both countries considered that their shared Spanish heritage outweighed changes in government, Cubans wishing to leave could fly to Madrid, and I was treated to Spanish toron at Christmas.
The US government, although unable to invoke a shared heritage, claims that Juan Guido is the ‘interim president’ until there is a new election. The young Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN announced that ‘the Venezuelan people are ready for a change”, and US National Security Advisor John Bolton, in a televised press conference, claims this is not a coup because the 2018 election, which Maduro won, was rigged. At the same time, he made clear Washington’s determination to achieve change in Venezuela warning that ‘everything is on the table’. While claiming that Cuba had sent motorcycle cops to terrify Caracas, he failed to acknowledge that since the Revolution, Latin America has changed: there are also Russians and Chinese in the US’s former backyard.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years. She can be reached at Otherjones. Especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.