By Frank Edward Paco Smith, Jr. JP
If one were predisposed to simply accept that which the US-biased, mainstream media churns out concerning the situation in Venezuela, you might very well buy into their rhetoric of that nation bordering on the precipice of “failed state” status. As people of the Caribbean, who by virtue of our proximity to the United States and its less than ethical foreign policy outlook (and practices), we must become and remain entirely vigilant in terms of not simply accepting the conventional, US-influenced, media when it comes to uncovering the all-too-vital commodity which is fundamental to surviving in these perilous times -- information.
Paco Smith staunchly advocates the emergence of civil society to serve as a proactive force toward positive change within the policy development arena. Among his many involvements, he is a co-founder of the group Belizean Patriots against the ICJ.
Many who not only hold, but advocate the accompanying supremacist world view which underlies US foreign policy, want people to accept, without questioning, that the duly elected government in Venezuela is under duress because of whatever fallacious things they wish to attribute to the Bolivarian revolutionary process that was ushered in by the former President, Hugo Chavez.
I encourage you to follow this link to an article
- which delves considerably deeper into the: principles involved, their origins and their motivations for engaging in the current unrest. You may find that the situation certainly is not as cut and dried as the US government, by way of its surrogates in the media, would want you to believe.
Reality holds, at least for those of us who refuse to be spoon-fed the predominant viewpoint; that based on many years of US intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, their "national interest(s)" is the fundamental rudder which steers its foreign policy. Most noteworthy of this policy is the emergence of the infamous “Monroe Doctrine” that was introduced in 1823. It is attributed to former US President James Monroe, in which the United States basically drew a line in the sand and made it known that the Western Hemisphere is their domain and dependent on their determination of whatever situation arose, they have the right to intervene militarily or otherwise.
If anyone dare say that the US has not interfered in the affairs of sovereign nations, either by way of both covert and overt operations, I suggest you stop drinking the proverbial kool-aid and take a swig of the cold reality. The list of such US interventions and intended ones are not too hard to uncover and it has been both fostered and facilitated by successive US administrations since its inception.
The list reads like a who’s who of US Presidents and for the sake of clarification, I firmly believe the words spoken by Alan Alda’s character in the 1997 smash thriller, “Murder At 1600”, in which he told Wesley Snipes’ character that, “…the (US) presidency isn’t an individual…it’s an institution”. Hence my lack of surprise that both Democratic and Republican US presidents have maintained the status quo, as it relates to the US’s foreign policy and the havoc that it normally reaps on unsuspecting nations, worldwide.
In terms of Latin America, the list of interventions is rather extensive and for those in the Caribbean/Latin American region whose nations are land-based like mine, upon perusing the list, it is clear that many such intrusions have occurred extremely close to home. I encourage you to take a look at the following link
, for but a glimpse at the tip of this iceberg.
On an even broader scope, why do you think the US government is so perturbed with Edward Snowden, of "Wikileaks" fame? That particular chapter placed the US government's nefarious actions and intentions involving spying and related matters, on full display. Of particular note, I believe it is instructive that not all US-driven efforts at influencing the internal matters of nations are manifest in a singular fashion. For this purpose, it is acknowledged that both covert and overt operations have been, and continue to be employed.
Bearing this in mind, let us draw upon the various attempts, purportedly by the Opposition in Venezuela, to undermine the democratically elected governments led by former President Chavez. There was a failed coup, they also tried to recall him and there was a private-sector lock-down all orchestrated in an effort to remove President Chavez from power. Inevitably, all failed.
I remind you that the US State Department has, on occasion, been so brazen as to use the presumably politically correct term -- "regime change". Given America's addiction to fossil fuels (petroleum), coupled with Venezuela's distinction of being among the top two countries in the world with the largest oil reserves
, there should be no question as to why the US has more than a vested interest in destabilising the leadership of that country and thus persist in its efforts to place some puppet in government to do their bidding. It is a shame to say, but that is the reality.
As for the current situation, undoubtedly, with the untimely passing of President Chavez in 2013, both the external and internal forces recognised that his successor and the subsequent, duly elected government of President Maduro would be left with some degree of an exposed underbelly. Hence, the efforts of those who covet holding control over Venezuela's immense oil reserves have transformed their strategy. They have now incorporated the student movement into their scheme.
I do not doubt there are some who genuinely are not pleased with their government. In keeping with this notion, let us reflect on what led to the Cuban Revolution, and its outcome. In short, there was a US-backed dictator in the person of Fulgencio Batista (1952 to 1959), who was ousted by the efforts of Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries in 1959. Given the manner in which things occurred, those who were beneficiaries of the corruption that Batista presided over, until his ouster, were undoubtedly not pleased with the outcome of the Revolution.
For those who are unaware, the Cuban Revolution was not supported by the US. After all, who ever said that revolution was a sanitary exercise? For yet a more current example of how citizens can genuinely not be pleased with their government, one need not look any further than the present day United States. Irrespective of their motivation, there are certainly those who are not all too pleased with the way things are going in the US.
Back to the matter at hand, in the case of present day Venezuela, this contrived effort by external interests, to further the campaign against the duly elected government, by way of inciting student involvement, reeks of utter hypocrisy. Beyond the unfortunate unrest these moves have caused, chief among the biggest losers are the very same students who have been hoodwinked into thinking that the opposition in their country will bring economic prosperity for their nation. I’m quite certain that the term being bantered about, by those with ulterior motives, is “democracy”. This, within itself, is a tragedy because with the installation of a bunch of “yes men and women lackeys”, it shall not bode well for the upward mobility of the majority of Venezuelans.
Let us not forget that, as unfortunate as it may be, "democracy" as determined by America, is conditional... that is, a nation can go through a democratic election and if the results don't mesh with the US’s foreign policy, it is summarily deemed to be "undemocratic" or "flawed". Need I cite examples of this? Well, for one, I can point to Cuba, whose brand of socialism is, within certain respects just as much, if not, more democratic than the process used in the US (save for the fact that it is carried out within the constructs of a one-party system).
As for my initial assertion regarding the ideal of “democracy”, there are numerous examples, worldwide, to support this notion. Although the case of Maurice Bishop’s rise to the premiership of Grenada was not ushered in by way of the ballot, that nation’s intersection with US foreign policy is noteworthy, especially for us in the Caribbean. Juxtaposing the Grenadian case with that of Venezuela, there is no doubt that the underlying specifics, in terms of the US government’s motivation are different.
In the case of Grenada, it was fueled by then US President Reagan's fixation with the quest to eradicate anything which even remotely resembled something other than the US’s brand of “democracy”. For this reason, the socialist movement of Bishop in what the US so disrespectfully referred to, by the Reagan administration as "America's backyard", was considered intolerable.
Regarding Venezuela, the US government’s impetus is to gain influence (control) of that nation's vast petroleum reserves – full stop! Nonetheless, despite the differing motivations, the common denominator is that both are directed by the US's "national interest(s)" and is ultimately manifest in its foreign policy. Whether covert or overt, the connection cannot be discounted.
Therefore, to my Caribbean people, I simply submit that in keeping with the sage words of Bob Marley, let us consciously note that, "...none but ourselves can free our minds...". Of course there will always be the apologists among us who will stare reality in the face and make every excuse under the sun, so as to not upset the US government's, unjust "big stick policy" and thereby endorse everything and anything the American Emporium puts on display for public consumption.
For those with such leanings, I submit that there is very little hope they will ever see ‘the light’. But for all others, I implore you to conduct research beyond the convenient media headlines and apply critical thought to your analysis. You are likely to find that the underlying factors of influence which result in what is being televised, concerning the situation in Venezuela, is much deeper than you may have thought possible.
This is instructive because, although it is happening to our sister nation of Venezuela, don't think for a moment that it cannot happen in the Caribbean. In actuality, it is happening on a daily basis by way of the US's unrelenting attempts to impose its skewed world vision to virtually every aspect of our societies. Of course this is made all the more achievable due to the fact that some of our nations lack leadership which boasts any semblance of a spine.
In essence, many more than not of our nation’s leaders, through their lack of conviction, embody and demonstrate the manifestation of being “beggar nations”, which translates into the Caribbean being so dependent on the aid offered by Uncle Sam, that most of our leaders are willing to compromise many of the moral and logical standards which once defined the unique essence of our ‘Caribbean-ness’. Nonetheless, that is a topic for yet another discussion.
In all, I pray the Maduro administration in Venezuela has: the social capital, resilience and wherewithal to withstand this despicable externally funded attempt to remove them as the duly elected government. May the fighting spirit, institutional memory and direction of the man, who championed the Bolivarian Revolution, President Hugo Chavez-Frias, prevail.
This is vitally important to the sanctity and integrity of self-determination and governance among the non-aligned nations of both the Caribbean and Latin American regions.