Within just days of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration, the US has declared his presidency illegitimate and is agitating for his removal. Brazil has also refused to recognise Maduro, and Washington’s other Latin American allies have joined in condemning his government. In short, the drums of war are once again thundering in Latin America.
But US-backed military intervention (or, even worse, US military intervention) in Venezuela would be a catastrophe. The US has no legitimate right to intervene; and nor does it seem to have genuine concerns about ordinary Venezuelans.
The drums of war
continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of a Venezuelan democracy that reverses the current constitutional crisis.
With Washington’s blessing, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó (also president of the country’s national assembly) has been, according to the New York Times, “proposing to take power”. Critical observers might argue that he’s pushing for a military coup. After Venezuelan police briefly detained Guaidó on 13 January, Bolton continued his propaganda tirade on Twitter:
We strongly condemn the Maduro dictatorship’s arrest today of National Assembly President Juan Guaido. Such acts of intimidation by Maduro’s Cuban-sponsored secret police (SEBIN), led by Gen. Manuel Christopher Figueroa, represent a grave assault on the rule of law in Venezuela.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) January 13, 2019
Florida senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile, said that the US should recognise Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader:
The U.S. has declared Maduro Presidency illegitimate.
Under constitution of #Venezuela in the absence of a president,the head of the National Assembly assumes power until new elections.
Which is why U.S. should recognize @jguaido as legitimate President.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 14, 2019
And US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote:
We denounce the arbitrary detention of #NationalAssembly President @jguaido by Venezuelan Intelligence Chief Manuel Cristopher Figuera. We call on security forces to uphold the constitution and rights of the Venezuelan people. The U.S. and world are watching.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 13, 2019
As The Canary has reported previously, Venezuela’s democracy isn’t perfect; but nor is that of the US, the UK, Mexico, or countless other countries. And judging by Washington’s long record of intervention, democracy and human rights are not its true priorities in Venezuela.
Within just 24 hours of condemning Venezuela, for example, Pompeo posted three separate tweets about US ally Saudi Arabia. He wrote that he was “grateful for the work you do on an ongoing basis to advance U.S. foreign policy”:
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 14, 2019
The hypocrisy is clear. Because there are fewer than ten absolute monarchies (undemocratic by nature) in the world, and Saudi Arabia is one of them. With Washington’s backing, meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is instigating what the UN has called the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis” in Yemen. So considering that democracy and human rights are among the chief public justifications for US interest in Venezuela, support for Saudi leaves it with no leg to stand on.
In fact, US sanctions on Venezuela – which have intensified under Trump – are actively contributing to the suffering of ordinary Venezuelans. In the words of The Empire Files‘ Abby Martin, sanctions are “real attacks that kill real people”.
Supposed US concerns in Venezuela are therefore unconvincing. And even if they were sincere, the US would have no greater legitimacy to intervene within another sovereign nation.
Don’t let history repeat itself
Over past decades, the US has left a bloody trail of destruction in Latin America and beyond. And as US political leaders seek to de-legitimise Maduro as a condition for intervention, it seems that history is repeating itself.
We must recognise US imperialist strategy when we see it – and condemn it.
– Join the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
– Check out The Canary‘s Latin America coverage.
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