The US is banging the drums of war in Latin America. This is a catastrophe in motion.

Left, US president Donald Trump; right, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro
John McEvoy

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

On 11 January, US national security adviser John Bolton announced that the US will:

Start your day with The Canary News Digest

Fresh and fearless; get excellent independent journalism from The Canary, delivered straight to your inbox every morning.




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:

Florida senator Marco Rubio, meanwhile, said that the US should recognise Guaidó as Venezuela’s leader:

And US secretary of state Mike Pompeo wrote:

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.

US hypocrisy

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”:

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.

Perhaps Venezuela’s massive oil reserves can better explain why the country’s been in Washington’s “crosshairs for decades”.

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.

Featured image via President of Russia and Congreso de la República del Perú

Get involved

– Join the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

– Support Witness for Peace in its campaigns for peace and social justice in Latin America. You can also travel on one its many delegations to the region.

– Check out The Canary‘s Latin America coverage.

Since you're here ...

We know you don't need a lecture. You wouldn't be here if you didn't care.
Now, more than ever, we need your help to challenge the rightwing press and hold power to account. Please help us survive and thrive.

The Canary Support