As Ukraine falls to the control of fascist forces funded by the Anglo-American powers and the world watches with bated breath for the Russian response, a similar sequence of events is currently taking place inside the South American country of Venezuela.
For the record, the people of Venezuela, much like the people of Ukraine, have very real complaints against the leadership in Caracas. A lagging economy and a level of personal freedom that is below par to say the least present clear reasons for Venezuelans to be disgruntled.
This latest Venezuelan “revolution,” however, does not appear to be the result of a popular uprising against an oppressive government but yet another Western-backed destabilization campaign aimed at wrecking the existing government and replacing it with another regime more favorable to the goals of the Anglo-Western interests and international banking cartels.
This recent spate of “demonstrations” began in earnest earlier this month with a rash of student protests in San Cristobal. Very soon, protests had spread from San Cristobal to Caracas and other Venezuelan cities with the demonstrators acting in a coordinated fashion, at least in their respective locations. On Monday, protesters began piling tree limbs, washing machines, furniture, and sewer grates while setting up chain link fencing in order to block roads.
Other protesters were not even content to use ordinary street materials to make their case. Instead, cases of activists with firebombs were reported in mainstream news organizations like the New York Times.
At the time of the writing of this article, the death toll surrounding the protests stands at least a dozen.
Yet, as mentioned above, although the Venezuelan people have numerous legitimate complaints against their own government and national ruling class, the demonstrations taking place all across the country do not appear to be the result of a genuine desire for a freer society and better government. Instead, this movement bears the hallmark of yet another destabilization campaign fresh on the heels of a successful Ukrainian color revolution.
It is important to remember that, under the leadership of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela was a stalwart source of resistance to the plans of the Anglo-Americans for years, particularly since the George W. Bush administration and continues through the Obama administration.
Likewise, for just as long, both Chavez’ government and the current Venezuelan administration has been the target of US/NATO-backed destabilization efforts, covert operations, and political pressure.
Although Venezuela and the United States are held together by joint business interests involving petroleum exports and imports, this fact has done nothing to soften the tension between the two governments. Venezuela is, after all, the biggest supplier of petroleum to the United States. In turn, the United States is Venezuela’s biggest customer.
Nevertheless, both countries have been at constant diplomatic war since 2010 due to Chavez’ rejection of the nomination of Larry Palmer by the Obama administration and Washington’s subsequent dismissal of the Venezuelan ambassador in response. Recently, in February, 2014, President Maduro expelled three American diplomats. Maduro had expelled U.S. diplomats back in October, 2013 over what he described as a “US plot.” The plot was clear enough, as the US consular staff that was subsequently expelled had previously met with opposition forces and labor leaders in the southern state of Bolivar as well as the opposition Governor of Amazonas. Only days ago, on February 25, the United States announced that it was expelling Venezuelan diplomats in response.
Furthermore, the imperialist US sanctions regarding countries, banks, businesses, and individuals that do business with Iran were applied to the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in May 2011 after the US State Department claimed that PDVSA delivered two cargo shipments of refined petroleum products worth approximately $50 million to Iran between the months of December and March 2010-2011.
In addition, as NewsMax reports, “The U.S. also imposed penalties on Venezuela's Military Industries Co. for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act by selling or buying sensitive equipment and technology related to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile systems.”
Even more so, Chavez’ government, in 2002, was briefly overthrown as a result of a coup largely supported by the United States. This foreign-backed coup attempt involved the mobilization of large numbers of “swarming adolescents” as well as snipers who fired on the marches, which was subsequently blamed on Chavez, thus fanning the flames of chaos and outrage. This is the same method seen in the attempted destabilizations in Syria and Ukraine. (see here also)
Although Chavez was able to regain control of the presidency and the government within a mere 48 hours, such an affront to Venezuelan sovereignty and personal power is not likely to be forgotten by the Venezuelan government. In turn, the fact that the United States is ready and willing to back opposition leaders capable of storming the capitol and taking power is not likely to be forgotten by individuals seeking to do so.
This was precisely the attempt made by the United States and Anglo-American networks during the last Presidential election when Chavez was still alive and campaigning for another term against Western agent Henrique Capriles Radonski who openly stated his favoritism toward dismantling many of the social programs developed by Chavez.
Whatever one may have thought about Chavez or the Venezuelan government, it was clear enough that the Radonski campaign was a tentacle of Western intelligence and NGO networks.
As Lee Brown of Venezuela Analysis wrote at the time,
However there are obvious concerns that this fits neatly with the objectives of those within the right-wing opposition in Venezuela who are planning for the non-recognition of the coming elections if, as expected, Hugo Chavez wins. With the polls showing strong leads for Hugo Chavez, a campaign is already underway by sections of the right-wing opposition coalition to present any electoral defeat as being down to Chavez-led fraud. This has seen baseless attacks on the independent National Electoral Council (CNE,) which has overseen all of Venezuelans’ elections described as free and fair by a range of international observers. The opposition has announced plans to place tens of thousands of ‘witnesses’ at polling stations on election day and then, illegally to release its own results ahead of the official results in a clear bid to discredit them. These plans have sharpened fears that opposition-led disruptions and destabilisation will follow their defeat. This could easily meet Duddy’s condition of 'an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy'.The “Duddy” that Brown makes mention of in his quote is a reference to Patrick Duddy, the former Ambassador to Venezuela, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations in a paper entitled “Political Unrest in Venezuela.” In this paper, Duddy provided a clear list of possible military, financial, and political contingency measures to be taken after the October 7 elections were held, essentially giving voice to a variety of opportunities which could be seized upon in order to foment the appearance of a popular uprising in the event of a Radonski defeat. The paper, in short, was a manual of suggestions for the implementation of a coup against the wishes of the Venezuelan people.
In the end, Radonski was defeated and the immediate public rioting that Duddy and the Anglo-American networks hoped for did not take shape. However, the destabilization effort that Duddy and the CFR called for in Duddy’s paper is beginning to take shape in Chavez’ absence.
After Chavez’s death and the subsequent campaign between Nicolás Maduro and Radonski, the vote count returned a much smaller margin of victory for Maduro than Chavez had enjoyed. Radonski, predictably, refused to concede defeat and claimed that the elections had been rigged.
Thus, while the internal debate surrounding the election results intensifies inside Venezuela, Radonski traveled to Colombia to meet President Juan Manuel Santos, a staunch ally of the United States. The visit was largely seen as an attempt to shore up international support for the planned coup.
Still, Radonski was, and likely still is, quite confident that the Maduro government will fall and that he will be placed as leader. "I think this government, in the current conditions of illegitimacy added to a deep economic crisis it's showing no intention of addressing, is going to cave in," Capriles said.
As a result, Maduro has responded to Radonski with accusations that he was nothing more than a destabilization agent for “right wing” actors wishing to overthrow the leftist government. Tensions both inside and outside the country began to rise with diplomatic ties being “re-examined” between Venezuela and Colombia as a result of the Radonski PR move as well as growing pro-Radonski supporters demonstrating in the streets. Violent clashes between protesters and the government during this time resulted in at least three deaths.
Now, in early 2014, protests and demonstrations are once again taking place all across Venezuela with Radonski positioning himself to seize power.
With this in mind, it is important to note that Radonski is seen as being much more “market-friendly” by Western banking circles. In fact, analysts from Credit Suisse, Casey Reckman and Igor Arsenin, stated to Bloomberg News in 2012 that, “A Capriles victory would be a good outcome from the market’s perspective, in our view, as he seems to be a more viable presidential candidate than the opposition has presented previously. He espouses a gradualist, inclusive, left-of-center but market friendly approach.”
Translating the above statement to layman’s terms, both Chavez and now Maduro represent a threat to the Anglo-American imperialist strategy because of their refusal to engage in unrestrained privatization. Radonski represents a much better option due to his support for, at the very least, privatization and “free market” tendencies.
The Patrick Duddy Paper
As mentioned above, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Patrick Duddy, published a paper in the official CFR magazine, entitled “Political Unrest In Venezuela,” in which he provided a clear list of possible military, financial, and political contingency measures to be taken after the elections of October 7, 2012.
Duddy cited the repeated warnings made by Radonski during the campaign regarding the possibility of chaos, destabilization, violence and even civil war if he fails to win the election in order to suggest that these conditions may arise out of Chavez’ sabotage of Venezuelan elections. However, the reality is that the violence and chaos that would have ensued over election results was much more likely to be a legitimate and organic reaction to the election of Radonski who is seen as much more favorable toward dismantling many of the social programs that Chavez heavily invested in. Even Duddy admits in his paper that a Chavez loss might result in riots by government workers “before Capriles can be inaugurated.”
In his paper, Duddy provided several instances that he believed were “Warning Indicators” of violence and political unrest as a result of the Venezuelan presidential elections. Among these indicators are those such as the following:
- Chavez dies or an announcement is made that his death is imminent.
- Violent crime is allowed to surge in the major cities before the election.
- Weapons are distributed to the militia.
- Basic food items disappear.
- Remaining independent media are closed and/or prominent journalists are detained.
- Sharp divisions within Chavismo surface publicly, suggesting insiders know Chavez is failing.
- A senior political figure close to either Chavez or Capriles is assassinated.
- Local supplies of gasoline are interrupted.
For clarification purposes, one may translate these interests to mean “to install puppet regimes via destabilization programs, create U.S. regional hegemony, further the drug trade for intelligence purposes (while imprisoning members of the general public), and protecting private banking and corporate interests operating or wishing to operate in the region.”
A Radonski presidency would not be the first time a prominent Venezuelan politician has cooperated with the Anglo-Americans. During the aforementioned coup against Chavez in 2002, Radonski, who was Mayor of Caracas’ Baruta district, was implicated in the detention of Ramon Rodriquez Chacin, Venezuela’s Interior Minister. Although the charges of fomenting violence on the Cuban embassy during the coup attempt were ultimately dropped, the suspicion surrounding Radonski’s allegiances remain. After all, the U.S. State Department was quick to go to bat for Radonski when his trial was set to take place, claiming that his case was indicative of Venezuelan Human Rights abuses.
If the claims regarding Radonski’s association with pro-Zionist groups are true, along with his questionable actions (at best) during the Venezuelan coup, then there is little surprise as to why former ambassador Duddy and the Anglo-American establishment would support him.
With this in mind, Duddy went on to write that the possibility of violence in the event of a Chavez victory was very real. The question facing the United States, according to Duddy, then becomes “What can we do about it?” Inside the pages of “Political Unrest in Venezuela,” he attempted to answer this question or, more accurately put, how the United States could best take advantage of such a situation.
In the section of the paper entitled, “Mitigating Options,” Duddy lamented the fact that “The likelihood of success for unilateral U.S. efforts is low;” which itself suggests that, if support existed, unilateral U.S. action would be given serious consideration. However, it is important to point out that Duddy did not rule out unilateral action as much as he merely observed that support for it would be low.
Nevertheless, Duddy stated that “multilateral efforts that include other important regional players are far more likely to influence Venezuelan behavior.”
Thus, it is important to note that, among Duddy’s “Mitigating Options,” there falls the subcategories of diplomatic, economic and financial, and military options.
In terms of diplomacy, Duddy suggested that the U.S., “together with like-minded nations . . . . . demand that the OAS declare Venezuela in breach of its obligations as a signatory of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and encourage a secretary-general–led mission to Caracas.” He also proposes that the United States involve the United Nations, the European Union, and “other international partners,” in order to “to explicitly endorse regional efforts to restore democracy.”
Unfortunately, Duddy did not define what a “regional effort to restore democracy” would look like. However, considering the recent history of Anglo-American interference, along with other international “coalitions of the willing,” we can only imagine that the results would bring little benefit to the Venezuelan people.
In terms of “Economic and Financial Options,” Duddy wrote that, in the event of violence or “interruption of democracy,”
the United States could freeze individual bank accounts of key figures involved or responsible and seize assets in the United States. It could also arrange for the proceeds of Venezuelan government-owned corporate entities like CITGO to be held in escrow accounts until democracy is restored and encourage other important trading partners (i.e. Canada, Spain, France, Brazil) to do the same.He also suggests that the “United States could block access to CITGO’s refining facilities in the United States and consider prohibiting PDVSA oil sales to the United States while the government’ status is uncertain.”
In other words, Duddy is proposing that the United States seize, freeze, and otherwise sanction Venezuelan assets until the election results are established to the satisfaction of the Anglo-American oligarchy. Clearly, a Chavez government does not fit the accepted mold formed by the shadow government currently guiding world society.
With this in mind, the next section of Duddy’s paper, entitled “Military Options,” is much more concerning.
For instance, in this section, Duddy wrote that,
The United States could encourage other Latin American militaries, as well perhaps as the Spanish, to communicate to the Venezuelan military the importance of complying with constitutional mandates, respecting human rights, and preserving democracy. While Chavez loyalists dominate the Venezuelan high command, it is not clear to what extent they control the middle ranks. Nor is it clear to what extent the military’s loyalty to Chavez’s Bolivarian movement would trump other considerations. In the abortive coup of 2002 the military temporarily removed Chavez but also restored him to power.In this short section, Duddy did more than simply hint that the United States, along with other Latin American client states should “encourage” the Venezuelan military to depose Hugo Chavez and install a different government. Notice that nowhere does Duddy suggest the possibility that Radonski might be the culprit in contested elections and post-election violence. The reason for this is that Radonski was not the target of the Anglo-American destabilization efforts – Chavez was. It is also ironic because Radonski has himself been involved in the instigation of political violence in the past.
Indeed, Duddy’s interpretation of “encouragement,” taken in the context of recent NATO-related adventures, sounds dangerously close to “direction” and outright “involvement.”
Of course, the entire purpose of Duddy’s paper seems to be a preparation at the academic level for a another coup attempt in Venezuela using “contested” elections as a justification. Much like the destabilizations taking place all over the world, particularly in Syria and Ukraine, the Anglo-Americans appear to be posturing for political, financial, proxy, or even direct involvement in the domestic affairs of yet another sovereign nation using civil unrest as a justification. More interesting still is the fact that the civil and political unrest used to justify this involvement has been fomented by the Anglo-American intelligence networks to begin with.
The Current Protests
Eva Golinger, a well-respected Venezuelan-American researcher and staunch supporter of former President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, has recognized the foreign-backed nature of the protests currently taking place across Venezuela. In her article, “Venezuela Beyond the Protests: The Revolution is Here to Stay,” Golinger writes,
Those protesting do not represent Venezuela’s vast working-class majority that struggled to overcome the oppressive exclusion they were subjected to during administrations before Chavez. The youth taking to the streets today in Caracas and other cities throughout the country, hiding their faces behind masks and balaclavas, destroying public buildings, vehicles, burning garbage, violently blocking transit and throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at security forces are being driven by extremist right-wing interests from Venezuela’s wealthiest sector. Led by hardline neo-conservatives, Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles and Maria Corina Machado -- who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% -- the protesters seek not to revindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free health care or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state, thanks to Chavez, but rather are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change.
Ironically, international media has been portraying these protesters as peaceful victims of state repression. Even celebrities, such as Cher and Paris Hilton have been drawn into a false hysteria, calling for freedom for Venezuelans from a “brutal dictatorship”. The reality is quite different. While there is no doubt that a significant number of protesters in the larger marches that have taken place have demonstrated peacefully their legitimate concerns, the driving force behind those protests is a violent plan to overthrow a democratic government.Golinger also points out that the three main leaders of the current protests are the same individuals who were instrumental in leading the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez. She states,
Leading efforts to overthrow Chavez were the very same three who today call for their supporters to take to the streets to force President Nicolas Maduro from power. Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles were both mayors of two of Caracas’ wealthiest municipalities during the 2002 coup -- Chacao and Baruta, while Maria Corina Machado was a close ally of Pedro Carmona, the wealthy businessman who proclaimed himself dictator during Chavez’s brief ouster. Lopez and Machado signed the infamous “Carmona Decree” dissolving Venezuela’s democratic institutions, trashing the constitution. Both Capriles and Lopez were also responsible for persecuting and violently detaining members of Chavez’s government during the coup, including allowing some of them to be publicly beaten, such as Ramon Rodriguez Chacin, former Minister of Interior in 2002.All three have been major recipients of US funding and political support for their endeavors to overthrow Chavez, and now Maduro.
The US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its offshoots, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) provided start-up funds for Machado’s NGO Sumate, and Capriles’ and Lopez’s right-wing party Primero Justicia. When Lopez split from Primero Justicia in 2010 to form his own party, Voluntad Popular, it was bankrolled by US dollars.
Over the 10-year period, from 2000-2010, US agencies, including the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and its Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI), set up in Caracas in 2002, channeled more than $100 million dollars to opposition groups in Venezuela. The overall objective was regime change.
Indeed, USAID is quite active in Venezuela, much of its activity taking place through front groups like the Solidarity Center, a recipient of a number of USAID grants. The Solidarity Center, of course, is only one of the four main offices of the National Endowment for Democracy, a notorious agent of international destabilization. The Solidarity Center is also connected to the AFL-CIO, the largest American union currently in operation.
Golinger provides more details regarding the recent historical underpinnings used as justification for the demonstrations as well as those individuals seen as “leaders.” Summarizing the recent events that led up to the 2014 protests, she writes,
In January 2014, as Venezuelans arrived back from their Christmas vacations, economic difficulties continued. Maduro began cracking down on businesses violating newly enacted laws on price controls and speculation. Towards the end of January, new measures were announced regarding access to foreign exchange that many perceived as a devaluing of the national currency, the bolivar.
Sentiment built among opposition groups rejecting the new measures and calls for Maduro’s resignation increased. By February, small pockets of protests popped up around the country, mainly confined to middle and upper-class neighborhoods.
During the celebration of National Youth Day on February 12, while thousands marched peacefully to commemorate the historic achievements of youth in the nation’s independence, another group sought a different agenda. Opposition youth and “students” led an aggressive march calling for Maduro’s resignation that ended in a violent confrontation with authorities after the protesters destroyed building façades, including the Attorney General’s office, threw objects at police and national guard and used molotov cocktails to burn property and block transit. The clashes caused three deaths and multiple injuries.
The leader of the violent protest, Leopoldo Lopez, went into hiding following the confrontation and a warrant was issued for his arrest due to his role in the deadly events and his public calls to oust the president. Days later, after a lengthy show including videos from a “clandestine” location, Lopez convened another march and used the event to publicly turn himself over to authorities. He was taken into custody and held for questioning, all his rights guaranteed by the state.
Lopez became the rallying point for the violent protests, which have continued to date, causing several additional deaths, dozens of injuries and the destruction of public property. Relatively small, violent groups of protesters have blocked transit in wealthier zones of Caracas, causing traffic delays and terrorising residents. Several deaths have resulted because protesters refused to let ambulences through to take patients to the emergency room.In the end, there is little doubt that streets full of angry demonstrators, regardless of the reason for their discontent and regardless of their violent acts and connections to the world banking oligarchy, will be broadcast back to the United States and the rest of the Western world as democracy-loving, peaceful protesters. As what little liberty the Venezuelan people had begins to flow down the drain, the corporate media will laud the crowning of the new free market king if the coup is finally achieved. Like the unfortunate people of Libya, Syria, and Ukraine, Venezuelans will wake up to a much darker world upon completion of the Anglo-American destabilization plan. Americans, if their current behavior and level of knowledge is anything to go by, will just wake up none the wiser.
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