The ongoing destabilization in Venezuela led by the US has recently intensified and is spreading it to other countries in the region. The aim is the same: to unleash violence to foster a context of un-governability, political crisis and economic chaos so as to oust democratically elected governments – just as happened in Chile against President Allende in 1973 when General Pinochet came to power in a US-backed coup.
Their nature has been aptly described by President Rafael Correa as “Conservative Restoration”. These forces enjoy robust and sustained financial support from national and international conservative currents, primarily from US official bodies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID. There are on-going destabilization plans against Venezuela, Ecuador, El Salvador, Argentina, Nicaragua Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba and the Caribbean – we will concentrate on a few of them.
Venezuela, since the passing away of Hugo Chavez, has been the target of what progressive movements there have termed an ‘economic war’ that through induced scarcity of food and other basic staple items, large-scale contraband, and currency speculation, has dislocated its economy.
Exactly as in Allende’s Chile it aims to make the poor bear the brunt of the scarcity in order to erode the government’s electoral base with the objective in this case to win the coming parliamentary elections of 6th December 2015 and ultimately overthrow the country’s constitutional Government.
Right-wing destabilization has also involved terrorist sabotage of the electricity system and criminal paramilitary activity. All indications are that the Right will not recognize the results if they are unfavorable and may embark on a wave of violence. The US, NED and US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) military headquarters support and finance the Right’s efforts. US government’s spokespersons, including Barack Obama and John Kerry have falsely charged the Maduro government with being dictatorial, with Obama issuing an Executive Decree declaring “Venezuela a threat to [US] national security”. US SOUTHCOM Chief, General John Kelly, has now contributed by ‘volunteering’ an interview to CNN Spanish news channel to announce that Venezuela is about to “implode”, which may necessitate US military action.
In Brazil, the Workers Party won a decisive victory in 2014 with the re-election of Dilma Rousseff, despite the severe world recession that hit the country very hard. Their electoral defeat has led Brazil’s Right to try and make the country ungovernable by both seeking to impeach Dilma, and also bar Lula from standing as presidential candidate in 2018. At street demonstrations, sections of Brazil’s Right have even made open calls for a military dictatorship.
Despite a recent parliamentary commission having cleared Dilma and Lula from any wrongdoing in the Petrobras (Brazilian oil company) financial scandal, the PSDB – the main right wing party – and its allies continue their efforts to impeach Dilma. As elsewhere in the continent the Right are trying to get unconstitutionally what they cannot obtain by votes. Their frantic efforts only reveal their fear of the 2018 election.
Simultaneously, Jose Serra, PSDB 2010 presidential candidate, has submitted legislation to privatize Petrobras, the country’s state oil company. This is the real objective behind the Right’s campaign to oust the democratically elected and legitimate government of Dilma Rousseff. Brazil has the second largest oil reserves in South America and, therefore, Petrobras’ privatization is of strategic importance to the United States. The obstacle to its full privatization is the Workers Party government.
In Ecuador meanwhile, a wave of street violence, including the blocking of roads and motorways, organized by the oligarchic opposition took place on 13th August 2015, aimed at ousting the democratically elected government of Rafael Correa. Ecuador’s Right has already attempted – and almost succeeded – in violently overthrowing Correa in a coup in September 2010.
This time, what has prompted the current wave of violent protests is a government proposed Heritage Tax that would affect 1% of the country’s richest income earners. The government has now temporarily withdrawn and challenged the Right to a national debate on the proposal. The Right, bereft of arguments, just blindly opposes it and is bent on illegally ousting the government. As is widely known, the government of Correa faces also the relentless pressure from oil giant Chevron in a legal challenge that would bankrupt the country if it succeeded. Thus, as with Venezuela and the rest of the region Ecuador’s progressive government is subjected to domestic and foreign destabilization. Ecuador’s opposition is also vigorously funded and supported by US agencies.
The destabilizes can also count on the active support of much of the international media and the majority of right-wing controlled media domestically, with many outlets relentlessly publishing negative reports, misrepresentation, distortion and false positives with the clear objective of isolating and minimizing solidarity support for progressive governments.
In a coordinated response, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) alliance of nations, at a Meeting of its Political Council, denounced “the renewed plans implemented by global transnational capitalism and imperialism, which through non-conventional war strategies, intend to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected progressive governments of the region.”
It is clear that the US and its regional allies on the extreme right will intensify their efforts in the coming period. We need to redouble our solidarity work in the run up to December’s National Assembly elections in Venezuela and beyond.
*Francisco Dominguez is the secretary of Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VCS) UK
Back to Article Listing