The Oil Rush: Venezuela vs. Saudi Arabia

In today’s corporate-focused world, black is the new yellow, oil is the new gold. To have this asset can prove to be either a gift or a curse for oil-rich countries. For example, Saudi Arabia has turned great profits while countries like Iraq paid the heavy price of a US invasion and damaging aftermath. While oil is typically thought to be abundant in countries like Saudi Arabia, there is a country closer to the United States which wears the golden crown in the oil industry but is unwilling to share its jewels with the US. In 2013, the EIA reported that Venezuela has 297.6 billion barrels of oil with Saudi Arabia closely behind with 267.91 billion barrels. 

What is the difference between Venezuela and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? One country enjoys a cosy relationship with the United States while the other refuses to bow to US interests. Before Hugo Chávez won the 1998 Venezuelan election, Venezuela was an example of a prosperous country (under capitalist standards). While Venezuela was portrayed as a booming country, the reality was that it was a tale of two cities; mass inequality existed between the upper and working classes. It was not until Chávez took leadership that inequality decreased dramatically and many industries (including the Venezuelan oil industry) was nationalised. This, of course, struck a chord with the US who had interests in the country which were being threatened by the radical move. Because of this anti-imperialist jab, the US thought they’d hit back with a huge blow to Chávez; they used the oldest trick in the corporatist book and that was to stage a coup and prop up a pro-US leader. In 2002 the middle classes took to the streets of Venezuela and forced Chávez to stand down which of course he did- only to return to power two days later. The Bush administration denied being involved in the coup which of course is very true because corporate America is very honest and transparent when it comes to these matters. 

When Hugo Chávez lost the battle to cancer in 2013, the responsibility of leading the South American nation was put on his close associate, Nicolás Maduro (who is often revered as the second death of Hugo Chavez due to the fact that the crisis which began at the end of Chávez’s administration became worse under his watch). Under Maduro’s leadership, food and medicine shortages worsened as did starvation hence the exodus of Venezuelans from the country. However, one cannot put the entire blame on Maduro and Chavez for the crisis; sanctions imposed by the USA have also played a huge part in the crisis. In the hopes of getting out the country out of the swamp, Nicolás Maduro tried to use one of the easiest tricks in the book and that was printing money which only backfired.  And this is where Juan Guaidó comes in to save the day, or so the US and their allies want you to think.

Juan Guaidó, the leader of the “Voluntad Popular” party (“Popular Will” in English), declares himself interim president of Venezuela which received mixed reactions from all parts of the world. The United States, Colombia and Brazil unsurprisingly recognise Guaido as the president without hesitation while Russia, Cuba and Turkey show support for Maduro. Uruguay has decided to stay neutral and called for negotiations and new elections. 

While this may seem like a revolution which will lead to freedom and democracy for the Venezuelan people, those who have lived long enough or have read the history of US interventions in Latin and South America would know all too well that US interventions prove to be disastrous for the working people and only beneficial to the corporatist businessmen. If you want to see truly how disastrous US intervention has been just look at Chile 1973 when the democratically elected Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup and replaced with the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, all due to the fact that Allende nationalised the copper industry (which was big business for the USA in Chile at the time). The US preaches of bringing democracy and human rights to the countries they interfere in whether it be through a coup or actual military action however Pinochet was notorious for his human rights abuses. This is the leader who used rape as a torture method for women. So if the US has propped up despicable dictators in the past, how is Venezuela any different? How is Juan Guaidó going to be good for the working classes of Venezuela? The answer is, he is not. He is not being put in power to serve the Venezuelan people, he is being put into power to serve the line of oil companies wanting access to the country’s oil.

The 2002 coup against Chávez is not the only piece of hard evidence to suggest that the US has been itching to interfere in the South American nation, John Bolton expressed that a regime change would be “a major step forward”. Nikki Haley (the former US ambassador to the UN) congratulated the election victory of Jair Bolsonaro and expressed how Brazil would be useful in “the fight against dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba” as well as against “China’s expanding influence in the region”.

Due to sour relations with the United States during the Chávez era, Venezuela has aligned itself with the United States’ biggest enemies, Russia and China (after all the enemy of your enemy is your friend). Russia and Venezuela have a good relationship especially when it comes to the military and weapons. Hugo Chávez signed a $2.9bn arms deal in exchange for Russian fighter aircraft which allowed the Kremlin to buy Venezuelan oil assets at a cheaper price. China gave $70bn to Venezuela for development projects which Maduro still owes $13bn of. In exchange for this, China has imported crude oil from Venezuela. Meanwhile, the US has been shut out of Venezuela’s oil business after the country stopped accepting US dollars as payment, in response to US sanctions. Given that Brazil and Colombia have shown opposition to the Maduro regime and do share borders with Venezuela, it is no surprise that they would play some part in US intervention (after all Colombia was accused of being behind the drone attack which was thought to be an attempt on Maduro’s life). So it seems as if the US has backed Venezuela into a corner hence making it easier to interfere. If the regime survives a coup, it is possible that the next step the USA would take is a military intervention which will be calamitous.

Nicolás Maduro is not exactly an angel, he has shown no regard for human rights and his election victory in 2018 was shut down by many due to rigging. However Juan Guaidó is not a saviour or a messiah for the Venezuelan people either, he has not been elected by the Venezuelan people and was relatively unknown until he became the leader of the opposition party just over a month ago. The basis of Guaidó using an illegitimate election to declare himself president is actually unconstitutional as Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution does not include fraudulent or illegitimate elections as a basis in which a person can declare themselves as president. To further support this, the UN independent expert who is responsible for promoting democratic and inequitable international order, (Alfred de Zayas) tweeted that Article 233 cannot be manipulated to justify Guaidó’s self-declaration and that ” a coup is a coup”. It is also important to take into account that a majority of the opposition parties in Venezuela disagree with Juan Guaidó self swearing. 

So Venezuela is stuck in between a rock and a hard place. How can the country come to a resolution? Well, the most sensible thing is there to be negotiations between Maduro and the opposition parties in order to reach a solution. New elections must be called, this time free and fair so the Venezuelan people can truly decide their own destiny instead of a handful of oil corporatists. A US-backed coup will be catastrophic for Venezuela regardless of whether it succeeds or fails. A failed coup attempt may embolden Maduro to become more dictatorial in order to keep his position or worst of all it could lead to a civil war. A successful coup attempt may cause pro-Maduro rebels to rebel which may escalate to a civil war. It is possible that Juan Guaidó may become dictatorial and will be worse for the Venezuelan people than Maduro (as seen in the past with US-backed leaders). We, the world cannot witness another catastrophic coup or civil war. We cannot allow Venezuela to become the Syria or the Libya of South America and we cannot allow US imperialism to win. To support a regime change is to support corporatism. To support a corporatist democracy goes against everything that constitutes a Democrat. The world must stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

AROUND THE WORLD: Venezuelan President Maduro Claims the KKK Rule The White House, Here’s Why He’s Right

In a BBC interview held this week, president Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela claimed that Donald Trump is an open white supremacist and that the Ku Klux Klan run the White House. When he made this claim, he seemed rather bemused that he had to explain this to interviewer Orla Guerin. Indeed, when you look at the bloody history of ingrained white supremacy of the United States, Maduro’s claims are not as controversial as they first appear.

An exploration of American fascism has already been touched upon in an earlier TPN article, but with Yankee chauvinism at yet another staggering high under Trump, the need to analyse the violent white supremacist nature of American exceptionalism has become vital.

Klanist thought has remained dominant in domestic American affairs. Proof of this can be found in the continued discrimination of black people in the United States. Old Jim Crow habits reared their heads in last years mid terms where, in Georgia, 50,000 mostly black votes became invalidated. Before the November election, Secretary of State Brian Kemp was sued for having found to be suppressing minority votes. The events are a reminder of America’s draconian voting laws that have, seemingly in certain areas, not moved on since the literacy tests of Jim Crow.

Whilst the KKK have died off as America’s dominant white supremacist paramilitary, their practices can still be found today in America’s heavily militarised policed force. The past few years have seen multiple controversial shootings of African Americans in the US, which has been followed by a lack of accountability or conviction of offending officers. Recent shootings and lack of prosecution are reminiscent of the era of Jim Crow where alleged murderers of black people would regularly be found not guilty by all-white juries. This issue is deep seated in the American justice system. Even today, all white juries and their allegedly racially biased decision making have remained prevalent. An earlier TPN article has outlined how US police assassinated Black Panthers and collaborated with Neo-Nazis to commit appalling acts of mass murder with impunity. Clearly domestically, Maduro’s claims of an America dominated by Ku Kluxism rings true.

Trumps own white supremacy has been examined in another TPN article, but whilst his far right flirtations (enabling of fascist violence of Charlottesville and sharing of Britain First Islamophobic posts) need to be showcased, they are hardly anything new. The United States was built on the idea of Manifest Destiny, an imperialist notion that holds that the US was destined by God to expand its dominion and spread capitalism. It is the very foundation of American fascist exceptionalism and its widespread propagation that directly led to the genocide of America’s indigenous populations.

Maduro’s claims are most evident in the blood-soaked history of American foreign policy. This is where it becomes obvious where Maduro’s thinking, with regards to the current coup in Venezuela, comes from. In Chile, the CIA (whilst “making the economy scream”) backed the neo-fascist Fatherland and Liberty Nationalist Front paramilitary group in an attempting to sabotage the democratically elected socialist Allende government. In Bolivia, the US forces used the “Butcher of Lyon” and Gestapo functionary Klaus Barbie to track down and execute Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. In Indonesia, the US embassy handed out lists of suspected communists to far right death squads who embarked on the genocide of over half a million people. And in perhaps the most staggering and shady example, the US heavily participated in NATO stay behind operations in Italy and Turkey. Operation Gladio, as it was known, led to the Strategy of Tension model where US backed neo-fascist terrorists who would commit disgusting acts of terror and blame them on radical left groups.

The list of examples of American support for foreign fascists is endless. Even recently, as detailed in a TPN article, it was discovered that American Nazi riot participants had been trained by Ukrainian Nazis whom have previously found themselves in possession of Pentagon weapons and used them to commit pogroms against Ukraine’s Roma population. The history of homicidal white supremacy is astounding and supports Maduro’s claims to the utmost extent.

With all this in mind it should hardly be surprising that there is truth to Maduro’s claims, which no doubt seem outlandish to the naive supporters of American “democracy”. The useful idiots and stooges of US imperialism should note America’s viscous white supremacy when it comes to the coup in Venezuela. The coup is being partly directed by Elliot Abrams who is currently being questioned by Congress over the role he played in propagating and covering up the El Mozoto massacre which featured the mass rape and murder of children as young as two, as outlined in a previous TPN piece.

Whilst it first may seem spurious to claim that the United States (which is allegedly the bastion of democracy around the globe) is run by the Klan, the practices and thought processes of American elites from the foreign policy propagators to the CIA, police, and justice system all point to a narrative that the US is gripped by an ideology of Klan-like white supremacy. As of today, this very grip seems all the more vice-like and unshakeable.

Sam Glasper is TPN’s foreign affairs correspondent and studies Politics at Manchester Metropolitain University.

AROUND THE WORLD: With Imperialism Knocking At It’s Doorstep, Venezuela Must Be Uncritically Defended

46 years ago, the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende was deposed and butchered in a bloody coup with the assistance of the United States intelligence services. The coup led to a vengeful reprisal by reactionary forces in Chile against working class citizens who had participated in Allende’s attempts to build a socialist society. In the most notorious example, a death squad nicknamed the “Caravan of Death” flew via helicopters from town to town to torture and execute imprisoned leftists. It is reported the squad “…cut eyes out with daggers. They broke their jaws and legs.” The way the coup was conducted from the heavy sanctions to the use of counter-revolutionary protest to the eventual targeted assassination of working-class activists all show similarities to the current situation in Venezuela.

Much has been written in the western political scene about the Maduro government and the previous Hugo Chavez led administration’s Bolivarian Revolution. It goes from complete condemnation by neo-conservatives to lukewarm support by certain social democrats. However, with the current threat of an imperialist coup in Venezuela directed by Elliott Abrams (a man who “lavished praise” on the military battalion in El Salvador that committed the El Mozote massacre which featured the rape, throat slitting and hanging of children as young as two) it should be obvious to anyone with even the slightest belief in anti-imperialism that Venezuela must be defended. With military intervention looming, now is not the time to critique the Maduro government but to give it full-fledged support to its defence.

Already the ground has been set for what would be inevitably, a gruesome and violent coup. The recent electoral victory of Maduro’s United Socialist Party has been declared a sham despite the fact that it was the opposition that opposed UN observers coming in to monitor the election. With regards to the supposed “fraudulent election” Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard stated that “I was in #Venezuela as an international observer for the election and met with oppositional figures who were freely campaigning against #Maduro Its also not possible to “stuff ballot boxes” as ballots are electronically twinned with voter ID & fingerprints”. From this, the talking point of an alleged sham election is merely just an excuse to justify intervention.

Similarly, the crisis of food and medical shortages has been blamed entirely on Maduro despite the fact that the US has placed crippling sanctions on the country that are said to amount to “crimes against humanity”. This is once again history repeating itself with the US directly destabilising a Latin American socialist government via economic means. In Chile, Nixon had ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” in order to overthrow Allende. This same tactic is clearly being demonstrated right now in Venezuela.

For whatever faults the Maduro government is said to have, there is a reason for its past and present electoral success. Its reforms have enormously benefited the poor in Venezuela including a housing programme that has delivered 2.3 million houses to working-class Venezuelans.

Meanwhile, the opposition is made up of the most reactionary segments of Venezuelan society. Chiefly white and middle class, the Venezuelan opposition forces on the streets showed their true face when they stabbed, burned alive and lynched a black man they suspected of being a government supporter and a “thief”. Any successful coup against Maduro will lead to a campaign of rampant, discriminatory mass-murder in a similar vein to the genocide of peasants in Guatemala and working class people in Chile after US-sponsored coups occurred in those states.

The American Empire is naked in its push for regime change in Venezuela, just as grossly as it has done in Libya, Honduras and countless other nations across the world that do not subscribe to Yankee Capitalism. With the potential for deadly intervention still on the cards, Venezuela’s anti-imperialist government must be defended at all costs. Otherwise, the blood of working class people will flow in the streets of Caracas.

AROUND THE WORLD: Venezuelan President Maduro Sworn In For 2nd term, Warns Against Potential Coup

Image result for nicolas maduroVenezuelan president and leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in for his second term following his electoral victory last year with 67.7 percent of the popular vote. His swearing in ceremony comes at a time of great strife for the region as right wing leaders in Latin America are accused of assisting the United States in destabilising Venezuela.

In his speech, the president stated that “We have a powerful enemy in US imperialism, but far worse is those who are corrupt and damage our country”. He also told his crowd of supporters that “Venezuela is at the center of a global war waged by US imperialism and their satellite states,” adding “Here I am, ready to take our country forward. Here we are with our democracy and our people.”

The speech targets the so-called Lima Group, an alliance of 14 right wing American states including Bolsonaro’s Brazil. With an active reactionary opposition still operating in Venezuela, Maduro has reason to be worried with notable counter revolutionary governments now in power in bordering nations Brazil and Colombia.

Bolsonaro, the newly elected president of Brazil,  is one source for special concern for the socialist Great Patriotic Pole led government in Venezuela. In his brief tenure as president so far, Bolsonaro has purged the civil service of hundred of suspected leftists and communists who do not share his far-right ideology. With a reactionary in the mould of the infamous General Pinochet now ruling a nation of over 200 million people, Maduro no doubt intends to combat potential coup attempts with increased vigour.

Similarly, Colombia holds a bastion of problems for the Maduro government. 85 ex-rebels belonging to the FARC organisation have been killed since the peace deal at the hands of right wing death squads who still operate with near impunity in Colombia around the Venezuelan border. Colombian armed forces have likewise, pursued leftists with bloodthirsty intent recently killing Marxist insurgent commander Guacho after his assassination of three Ecuadorans.

Maduro remains one of the select few leaders left from the “pink tide”, the elections of numerous populist and social democratic leaders in Latin America. Since then a counter revolutionary backlash has eclipsed the continent through a rising tide of violent, middle class based protests leading to the return of neo-liberal social conservative governments in Argentina, Chile and Brazil. It comes with a global trend of rising right wing movements from the rise of electoral fascists in France to the violent neo-Nazis operating militias in Ukraine, training like minded American Nazis.

Judging from his speech, President Maduro has no intentions of succumbing to US hegemony in the region which certainly intends on regime change. The US has made no secret of its disdain for the Bolivian Revolution in a similar vein to its dislike for the Cuban communist state. With destabilising forces rocking Venezuela including an attempted assassination of Maduro and a helicopter terrorist attack, Maduro will have to wither the storm by any means if he seeks to continue former president Chavez’s social revolution.