In the US, a Guaido-like figure would have been locked up long ago

Venezuelan 'interim president' Juan Guaido, Colombian President Ivan Duque and US Vice President Mike Pence.
Peter Bolton

The Venezuelan government has just barred the leader of the US-backed coup from holding public office. As would be expected, Western governments have been crowing about how this ‘proves’ the inherent authoritarianism of President Nicolás Maduro.

But this is nonsense. After all, these Western governments would hardly tolerate such behavior in their own countries. Clearly, anyone who attempted to overthrow a Western government would be punished immediately – and much more severely. A simple hypothetical comparison reveals the West’s extreme self-interested hypocrisy when it comes to foreign intervention.

Barred for 15 years following arrest of ‘chief of staff’

On 28 March, Venezuela’s financial comptroller barred self-declared ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido from holding public office for 15 years. The official said that the ban is based on financial irregularities, such as not accounting for the origin of the $94,000 spent on 90 international trips he has taken. He added that Guaido’s interactions with foreign governments that support the coup have harmed Venezuela. Guaido will be ineligible to stand for office again at the end of his current term but can keep his seat in the National Assembly until then.

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The ban follows the arrest of Guaido’s ‘chief of staff’, Roberto Marrero. Marrero was detained on suspicion of conspiring to commit acts of sabotage against the Venezuelan government. The Venezuelan Interior Minister said that intelligence services seized weapons and foreign currency from his home.

International condemnation

Both developments have unsurprisingly been met with strong condemnation from the Western coup-backers. A spokesperson for the US State Department, for example, described the ban as “ridiculous”. The International Contact Group on Venezuela, a coalition of European and Latin American countries, stated:

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Such a political decision without regard to due process is yet another demonstration of the arbitrary nature of judicial procedures in the country

They have also demanded Marrero’s immediate release. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for example, tweeted:

The United States condemns raids by Maduro’s security services and detention of Roberto Marrero… We call for his immediate release. We will hold accountable those involved.

Brazen hypocrisy

To be sure, the Venezuelan government should be condemned if either of these moves has violated domestic or international law. But the posturing of these Western countries is outrageously hypocritical. After all, each of them demands respect for their national sovereignty and non-interference into their internal affairs.

To illustrate the point, imagine what would happen if an opposition politician in the West were to do what Juan Guaido has done in Venezuela. Imagine, for example, if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared herself the ‘interim president’ of the US and demanded that Donald Trump step down.

Imagine if…

Imagine, furthermore, that in support of this move, she cited the illegitimacy of the 2016 presidential election. “Donald Trump lost the popular vote”, she might point out. “And in any case”, she might add, “the entire US electoral system has been corrupted by the influence of money and extensive voter suppression“. (Note here that she would have a strong case.) She might also allude to: his authoritarian tendencies; his attacks against the press; his advocacy of violence against journalists; his trampling over human rights both at home and abroad; his business connections to brutal dictatorships; his intimate connections to the world of organized crime; and his reckless and incompetent manner of governing.

Now imagine that she sought support for this manoeuvre from powerful countries with whom the US has rocky relations – say, Russia and China. Imagine that these countries then issued crippling sanctions against the US – which violated international law and compounded the suffering of those worst off in US society. Imagine that they demanded Trump step down from power under threat of all means of intervention – up to and including the use of military force. And then imagine (if you can) that one of these countries had a decades-long record of intervening in US affairs; supporting (and even helping orchestrate) violent insurrections against state governors it didn’t like and propping up brutal dictatorships in neighboring countries (as the US has done in Latin America for decades).

Zero tolerance for even the slightest dissent

In this above imaginary scenario, does anyone seriously think that all that would happen to Ocasio-Cortez would be a 15 year ban on running for office and the arrest of her chief of staff? There can be no doubt that she would be spending the rest of her life in prison, if not executed for treason – which is a capital crime under US federal law. After all, the US does not accept even the most minor threat to its world dominance, let alone its national sovereignty and internal affairs. Whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, for instance, face lengthy stints in prison simply for releasing some of the US government’s secrets.

Blinding the public and manufacturing consent

The powers that be hope the global public is so used to the flagrantly pro-Western framing of these issues that they fail to sense the inherent hypocrisy. And the mainstream media has played a central role in trying to blind people to the West’s crimes and duplicity.

We need the whole world to wake up to the US-led Western imperialism and the media’s manufacturing of consent for its agenda.

Featured image via The White House/Flickr

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