Venezuela? The bad guys are on Wall St.

25 Jan

This also features in OffGuardian, antidote to corporate media disinfo

With Washington talking up a military coup (Democrats for once in no hurry to berate Trump on the issue) and Russia a sufficiently interested party to have flown nuclear capable bombers into Caracas last month, it behoves us all to get up to speed on Venezuela. It should go without saying we can’t trust a word corporate media say but, case it doesn’t, here’s why.

First, corporate media are not independent but reliant on market forces. This applies not just to the billionaire media but, for reasons given elsewhere, to Guardian and BBC too.

Second, media both sides of the Atlantic have a long record of backing US predation on the global south. Never have they deviated from this – take the Guardian’s cheerleading on Iraq. Worse, they’ve abdicated a core duty in their refusal to explore motives that cast a very different light on Western interventions sold to us as humanitarian.

Third, sanctions have sown economic havoc in Venezuela. They’re spoken of in such calm tones that an already innocuous word loses even what little force it might have had. But sanctions kill. As do deprivations arising from US-Saudi manipulation of world oil prices with the precise aim of weakening rival powers and punishing disobedient vassal states.

Specifically, what is sold to us – by manifestly interested parties including market driven media – as product of “socialist incompetence” in Venezuela is in fact the fruit of a criminal empire determined, as all empires are, to maintain its supremacy by all means and at all and any cost.

I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, Wall Street and the Bankers; a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914, Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar in 1916. In China I saw to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. Capone operated in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Major-General Smedley Butler

(I have no quarrel with the specific claims above but find them reductive. They are accurate – and we should not downplay the fourth claim, as dollar and petrodollar hegemony come under challenge in Eurasia too – but in the context of Washington’s ‘right’ to police all of Latin America, disobedient states are brought to heel (through fascism if need be) not just to protect particular assets but to send a message across the entire continent. As in the middle east, Washington and Wall Street will brook no self-determination in their “spheres of interest”.)

No, for sense on Venezuela we must look elsewhere. I’ve quoted Stephen Gowans before, on Syria. Now here he is on crisis in Caracas.

The US-led and coordinated intervention to overthrow Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro by recognizing Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly as the interim president, has nothing whatever to do with restoring democracy in Venezuela (which was never overturned) and everything to do with promoting US business interests.

Washington’s imperial arrogance in effectively appointing Guaidó as president, attempting to go over the heads of Venezuelans—who alone have the right to decide who their leaders are—is motivated by the same concerns that have motivated other US interventions around the world: toppling governments that put their citizens’ interests above those of US investors.

That Washington has a propensity to engage in destabilization operations against leftwing governments is hardly a secret. From 1898 to 2004, the US government undertook 41 successful regime change interventions in Latin America, an average of one every two-and-a-half years. And that excludes the unsuccessful ones, such as the Bay of Pigs invasion.

In almost every instance, US regime change interventions around the world have been motivated either directly or indirectly by commercial considerations, and were undertaken to restore or protect the primacy of US business interests in foreign lands. And in many cases, the interventions paved the way for the installation of rightwing dictatorships.

Read Stephen Gowans’ full post on his

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18 Replies to “Venezuela? The bad guys are on Wall St.

  1. Already posted Steven Gowan’s piece but there’s no harm in doing the same with your article and with Ben Norton’s as well, for good measure. I do hope the presence of Russia and it’s strategic bombers will dissuade the imperialist cabal from further NGO supported right wing violence, but they’re in it for the long haul, too much is at stake so the CIA will keep pumping money into the NGO’s who in turn will continue to bankroll the co-opted extremists. Guaido would sell his granny to get his sticky mitts on the oil and gold rather than share it with the people, I don’t hold out much hope. The US illegal economic sanctions have been like a hammer blow to an already struggling economy – as was intended – I wish it were otherwise. China likewise could bail the country out, knowing they will end up owning what was loaned for, but at least in Africa, they have kept jobs in place on the same wages, something the US cabal have nnever done.

    • Especially dispiriting is the way large swathes of the liberal intelligentsia are taken in every time – “yes, Chile was terrible but this is different”. No fool like an educated fool! What can we do? Bear witness.

  2. Some tidbits I picked up from OffG and MoA comments sections.
    “…The Bank of England has now confirmed that they will not be returning Venezuela’s gold reserves held in London back to Venezuela. Presumably the gold reserves that England has now defacto stolen will eventually be used by the puppet government that the US has created to pay for the overthrow of the real government of Venezuela. This reminds me of the Tsarist gold that stolen during the Russian revolution by the British government, isn’t it amazing how “modern” governments refuse to use gold as a currency, but it’s always the first thing they seize during a crisis…”
    “Now I don’t have the requisite mental capability, but someone more discerning than me might be able to pick out some patterns in all this:

    Venezuela: Socialist, large oil and gold reserves, began selling oil for gold and/or Euros, gold reserves held in English banks and England refuses to return them.

    Libya: Socialist – large oil deposits, highest standard of living on the African continent, plans underway for a pan-African gold dinar, replacing French francs and US dollars, gold reserves taken away “for safekeeping.”

    Iraq: Socialist, large oil reserves, began selling oil for Euros or gold, gold reserves taken away “for safekeeping”

    Afghanistan: Socialist government until Carter-Brezinsky organized Taliban to take over, large deposits of lithium and rare-earth metals, proposed path of TAPI pipeline to deliver Caspian Sea oil to Indian Ocean ports

    Syria: Socialist, oil deposits, proposed path for oil pipelines from Russia and Iran to the Mediterranean

    Yugoslavia: Socialist and successful, high standard of living

    Iran: oil deposits

    Yemen: Undeveloped oil deposits, proposed path for oil pipelines from Saudi Arabia to the Gulf of Aden

    Sudan: oil deposits

    Posted by: AntiSpin | Jan 26, 2019 11:24:30 AM | 152

    In OffG’s article defend Venezuela
    “Venezuela’s Supreme Court head Maikel Moreno announced on Monday that the judges had disavowed Juan Guaido as the chief of the opposition-controlled National Assembly.”

    And the RT, just one day earlier:

    Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared all acts of the country’s National Assembly null and void, days after the opposition-held assembly declared President Nicolas Maduro’s election illegitimate.”
    and in the comments section from BigB:
    “I don’t have much time, but I wanted to make a quick point: Venezuela doesn’t have any, and it is not sitting on oceans of, oil. Not in the way people may imagine. What Venezuela does have in abundance in the Orinoco Belt is sulphurous tar that is costly to extract. It also needs diluting, which is why Venezuelas imports of lighter grades of oil and diluents like naptha are up, and exports down. Someone mentioned the sell cheap (at or below the cost of production), buy back expensive scenario. Vexarb mentioned the need for a Pacific coast refinery, to avoid having to sell to the US Gulf Coast refiners (who can control the price on quality issues).

    So the completely illegal and immoral shenanigans the US is involved in; have to be looked at as an act of environmental and economic desperation for a world, principally the US, that is addicted to the power of oil. The cost of oil is the Earth. Let me bracket out AGW: the global capitalist system is fully fuelled by oil. The US is already subsidising (debt funding) the shale ‘revolution’. The Canadian tar sands ditto, etc. Now the threat to Venezuela’s sovereignty is for a resource that is not economically viable. It will cost at least as much, if not more, to recover than it will be worth. Particularly if the ageing infrastructure has to be updated. It should be classed as a ‘stranded asset’: even by the internal ‘free market’ logic of the system. To recover it all would be economic suicide. Obviously, there will be nothing left for Venezuelans.

    All of which has to be set against the tumbling price of renewables (60% in three years in some cases). Nuclear can’t compete (Toshiba and Hitachi have recently abandoned building reactors in the UK, because they cannot get the cost per MWHr to cover investment). But renewables can’t sustain capitalism, growing exponentially year on year.

    So here’s the choice, do we want to live …or do we want carbon capitalism? Because the two are not compatible with each other. We are already past the point where oil is an economic liability, not a viability. More and more of the cost of extraction has to be offset against the cost of future extraction (EROEI). This means there will be less and less exergy (excess energy available for social needs). Plenty enough for the rich to get richer, none, and I mean none, left for socialisation …or even basic needs. We will continue to get poorer under a carbon capitalist system that is hugely subsidising the cost of extraction of oil as a basic survival need. For them. not us. Not to mention the exponential risk of real intra-capitalist war entailed in the scramble to control remaining resources.

    Until we realise the problem, and make a concerted effort toward ecosocialism (whose hotbed is in Latin America) and sustainable living, situations like Venezuela will continue to become extremised. Oil oppresses us all.

    We are all Venezuela now. It’s the Lords of Carbon against humanity. So long as we buy into their profligate ethos and false prosperity lifestyle, we are mutually oppressing ourselves and each other. Capitalism costs the Earth, and we only have one. The future is green and red: ecosocialist. Whatever the faults of the Bolivarian Revolution, the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) they made a move in the right direction. Can they complete that move? Only with our help. Conversely, if they fail, we fail.

    ¡Viva la Revolución!”
    Needless to say he got an up vote from me.

      • I know what you mean Gabriel. But simply speaking out – as widely, loudly and cogently as we can – is something. Not much, I grant you, but something …

  3. Great quote from Smedley Butler…is it from a book or from an interview? I also agree that no strategic reason is needed for US intervention (see pitiful Haiti), since no single example of self determination can be allowed, oil or no oil. Good letter, Steel City Scribe! So many citizens seem to debate invasions or coups down south like gamers at their xbox , choosing invasion, evaluating the legitimacy of the Maduro govt as if that were their competence or prerogative, as if being plugged into the console of american propaganda gave them the right to “play”. We have yet to field a social democracy movement like the ones in Bolivia and Venezuela. As regards to democracy, we come to them as pupils, as serfs. I have heard a lot in us press about Maduro graft, kleptocracy, Chavez’ daughter hiding four B in Andorra, etc. No doubt there was some thievery (the chavistas were not uppermost in the Maduro coalition I thinkk?) Probably like the Greeks they should better not have honored their debts….look where compliance has gotten them. It could also be, as was the case(much smaller numbers) in Aristide’s Haiti when I was there, that Chavez’ daughter has salted away an economic war chest of four billion for the revolution where it cannot be devalued, since they have faced the manipulation of oil prices, the freezing of gold assets and so on. Thanks for your sheet.

    • Thanks Gabriel. I like your xbox analogy. I do see a huge part of the problem as that otherwise sophisticated reasoners look at the latest “enemy of peace/democracy/human rights” as if at something new. That, and a failure to ask the cui bono question.

      The Smedley Butler quote is well known, though not as well known as it deserves. Google his name and you’ll find it. Or follow the link I put in.

  4. Hi Philip, I may be well of the mark,but given that a great many people no longer believe that the US actually has the gold reserves it claims(nobody has been allowed to see them for a very long time)is it not also possible that the Russian deal to mine Venezuelan gold is also a strong motivator for the US to invade. The petro dollar is being slowly but irrevocably waning and as a fiat currency is quite possibly not backed(deliberately)by gold reserves, while Russia and China and now India have been buying up gold for the last 15 years. Could it be that much of the gold has been offered by various means by the US(it’s not doing a lot sitting in Fort Knox and who would be the wiser?)and that is why the gold is available? I am mindfull of the fact that both the US and UK hold billions of Venezuelan gold and are refusing to return it to that country. This can be construed as theft by another means to further aggravate the assault against the Venzuelan economy and possibly asks the question “do they still even have the gold?”
    We know that the sub primes like Shale have become a liability even though they, like the gold sands are heavily subsidised, so is there a trick that is being missed or am I grabbing at straws and sounding like a conspiracy theory nut?Just thought I’d throw my musings into the mix.

    • I agree Susan. I see various specific factors – gold, dollar hegemony and oil – in play but also an overarching imperative for the USA to crush any and all attempts to assert a modicum of independence in Latin America. Witness, most recently, the fate of Lula in Brazil and Zelaya in Honduras.

  5. The fate of Lula and Zelaya was a disgrace but shows the level of US foreign hypocrisy and overt intervention in other countries. How obscene then, they should use supposed Russian intervention in their so-called democracy.
    One good thing to come out of Russia’s aid to Maduro is the $5 billion for gold mining. The US cannot touch it because it is to facilitate part payment of the debt Venezuela cannot pay to Russia. Who knows, maybe there will be enough gold mined that a surplus would ease the murderous sanction situation that Washington has imposed. From what I have observed, Russia and China, even when they are in competition with each other, seem to have a gentlemen’s agreement on how to work alongside each other, for the common good. Would that the western Imperialist adopt such an honest business strategy.
    US aggression which equates to terrorism by any other name, is so glaringly obvious, still seems to be backed by those other aggressors – EU and fascist regimes in S. America.
    I only hope Maduro hasn’t made a tactical error in transferring his oil refining to Turkey, Recep does not have the finest reputation for his honesty, but in fairness to him, he has backed Venezuela against the US and seems to be building bridges he previously burned down. Fingers crossed though, there are so many facets to this situation, which makes it hard to keep track of all the blind alleys and red herrings.
    I do like what Chris Williams had to say on Venezuela in parliament – that has to count for something, doesn’t it?

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