The US and its far-right allies in Brazil and Colombia are currently leading a coup attempt against Venezuela’s elected government. It’s the issue that’s filling media outlets around the world at the moment. But what doesn’t appear in the news is the curious connection of a country some 10,000km away: Israel.
Israel and the Venezuelan coup attempt
As Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal reported for the Grayzone, Juan Guaidó – the face of Venezuela’s attempted coup – is no moderate. In fact, “he has spent years at the forefront of a violent campaign of destabilization” in the country.
After being groomed by Washington’s “elite regime change factories”, he then “spent his career in the most violent faction of Venezuela’s most radical opposition party”. This faction, the Popular Will party, was complicit in the deaths of citizens and police officers. In short, Guaidó is far from the fresh-faced, heroic character presented to you by outlets like BBC News or the Guardian.
On 27 January, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu officially recognised Guaidó as Venezuelan interim president. Israel became one of many colonial powers, including the US and the UK, to support the West’s latest imperialist project.
On 3 February, Guaidó’s supporters displayed and cheered Israeli flags during an opposition rally:
Venezuela's opposition cheer the US and Israeli flags at their rally earlier today. pic.twitter.com/SXxzYyDMvs
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) February 2, 2019
This seems more significant than a simple show of gratitude for Netanyahu’s recognition. It appears to be a proud nod to the type of imperialist state they imagine for their country, and to Israel’s historic support for far-right governments across Latin America.
In the words of Dan Cohen:
Israel is seen [as] a symbol of colonialism and far-right politics, so pro-imperialist right-wing groups proudly wave its flag.
Meanwhile, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip demonstrated in solidarity with Venezuela’s democratically elected government.
Israeli support for Latin America’s far right – nothing new
I learned an infinite amount of things in Israel, and to that country I owe part of my essence, my human and military achievements.
These are the words of Carlos Castaño, who co-founded the paramilitary organisation United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) in 1997. The AUC, in the words of Colombia Reports, left “a trail of death and terror in its wake with its estimated 30,000 fighters”. At its head, Castaño became one of Colombia’s – and probably Latin America’s – most prolific and murderous paramilitary officers.
He owed much of his knowledge to the training he received during the mid-1980s in Israeli military school and the Hebrew University. According to Al Jazeera, Israeli officers later arrived in Colombia in 1987 to offer further training and provide weapons.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, a CIA report showed that:
Israel sold the Chilean air force 100 Shafrir air-to-air missiles in 1976 and 50 more in 1980. This was followed by 150 Sherman tanks and Westwind 2 aircraft.
The CIA report concluded that:
In our view, Israel, even under a Labour government, is unlikely to jeopardise its military relationship with Santiago to support a restoration of democracy in Chile.
The Israeli government continued to provide Pinochet with arms to suppress his opponents throughout the 1980s.
In 2018, documents within the Israel State Archives revealed that Israel supported Brazil’s military dictatorship, which ruled between 1964 and 1985.
As Middle East Monitor reported, one document detailed:
Brazil’s security forces used Israeli Uzi submachine guns, and the [Brazilian] National Truth Commission revealed that intelligence agents from the National Intelligence Service of Brazil (SNI) — who were primarily responsible for torture, oppression, and crimes committed by the regime — received training in Israel.
Israeli support for governments across Latin America has left a trail of civilian – and often left-wing – blood. Is it any wonder that the Venezuelan opposition now fly the Israeli flag?
Featured image via WikiCommons
- 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 of its many delegations to the region.
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