It is actually very, very simple:
Venezuela has world’s biggest oil reserves.
Chavez had had nationalized these oil reserves back in 2007, taking it over from Exxon, a US corporation.
Within a week, Chavez was declared a dictator by US corporate media.
Then started a series of attempts to overthrow Chavez, ranging from the first blatant coup to many smaller ‘democratic’ attempts. They are a long story.
When these didn’t work, economic warfare started in the form of sanctions and cooperation of internal ‘opposition’.
US sanctions Venezuela on everything it can, even food and medicine, and forces its satellites (ie, numerous major European countries, ultra-right South American countries like Colombia, Brazil etc) to do so as well. This was the exact thing that was done to Iraq which caused deaths of over a million people there, leading to the UN inspectors responsible with overseeing the ‘sanctions’ to quit in protest.
Whereas inside Venezuela, the internal elements, de facto ultra-right wing, even fascist elements of opposition which always cooperated with US, do their best to help the problems:
These cause problems, and the pictures of empty supermarkets that are circulated in US media in order to convey the perception that ‘people are starving in Venezuela’:
On the ground, the reality is that the government has set up distribution centers to provide food and other supplies to people:
The socialist government of Venezuela has had great success in protecting a majority of the population from the effects of US economic warfare since a long while. Hence, their high voter turnout and high support among the poorer majority of Venezueans.
However, when the US sanctions hit their economy, one class of Venezuelans got shafted: the upper middle and upper classes.
These constitute the rich, or new-rich, or upper middle class upper strata of Venezuelan society. And despite they all are mestizos, this class acts as if they were foreign colonizers in Venezuela like their counterparts in every other South American country.
Think Mexican soap operas, if you have seen any: The depiction of the upper classes there is slightly exaggerated but those at the top indeed live, think and behave more or less as represented. They paint a rather accurate picture of alienation of such upper classes from their society and the immense inequality that exists in South American countries in between the tiny minority of elites and the majority poor.
Of course, this class does not include the ultra rich only – the upper middle classes, educated professionals who ‘jump classes’ also classify within this strata, though they may not see themselves as ‘elite’ or ‘colonial’, or ‘European’.
Observe the stark difference in between the photos of Maduro’s Congress members and the US backed opposition congress members in the below article:
Then, The New York Times, NPR and other mainstream outlets in the US reported on marches against the Chavez government, showing the tens of thousands of Venezuelans calling for Chavez’s removal. But when I took my BBC camera crews to march with these protesters, they were clearly from the light-skinned minority. They were also the wealthy — and they wanted you to know it. Many of the women marched in high heels, the men peacocking in business suits, proudly displayed in the uniforms of their privileged class.
The Chavistas wore patriotic yellow, blue and red T-shirts, sneaks, jeans.
Race was an issue as much as political philosophy. When I marched alongside the opposition demonstrators, they shouted “Chavez, Monkey!” and worse.
Majority of the Venezuelans you would see on Internet, especially Quora, are from this upper class – speaking spotless english and engaging on leisurely discussion on internet on various topics, having a habit of using Twitter etc. These are not the domain of the majority poor and indigenous people in Venezuela. But the well-to-do and educated can afford such luxuries. Of course, not counting in the perfect-english-speaking Cuban emigres working in private ‘opinion shaping’ corporations from Florida, US.
So this upper class constitute what people see when someone tells them ‘Just ask Venezuelans’ – there is no way for an average Westerner to be able to ask an average poor mestizo or indigenous person in Venezuela – only the upper classes are visible on internet.
And this upper class was the most hit by US sanctions and economic warfare. They lost their highly profitable businesses, the entitlements, the privileges they enjoyed before Chavez and PSUV (Socialist party of Chavez, Maduro etc).
But there was a problem for US establishment in respect to their regime change agenda: Though this class was disgruntled now and firmly on their side, they were a tiny minority and the classes whose lives were bettered by Chavez, were an overwhelming majority.
UN statistics circa 2014 firmly state that the lives of majority Venezuelans are much, much better.
For an elite small minority, things are not as good as they were before. Before Chavez and Socialists, they occupied the top rung of the society, monopolized highly paid professional positions, trades, businesses.
But when they started to collaborate with US as the arm of US policy inside Venezuela, like how the engineers in Oil corporations started to cripple oil production after Chavez nationalized the oil, or how they started to cripple and profit over basic necessities as food, medicine etc, the Socialists started to replace them and this class started to lose their privileges. The US sanctions came as a second blow on top of that – crippled what other entitlement and privilege they have left, in the form of their businesses.
So, there is a minority that has been hard hit by not the Socialist policies of Chavez, Maduro and socialists, but by their enthusiasm to collaborate with foreign corporate interests. And ironically, they were hurt by the very sanctions and economic warfare inflicted upon their country by those very corporate interests, represented by US establishment. So they are suffering.
When said ‘suffering’, you have to understand that their suffering is still very different from the suffering of ordinary people:
These are Schrodinger’s Venezuelan opposition: When you are not looking, she is suffering in Venezuela, hungry. When you are looking, she is actually living in an apartment in Paris, attending a fashion course.
Another immigrant Venezuelan appeared on Spanish television at one point, on a discussion panel that included a Spanish communist who just returned from Cuba. When she confronted the panelist and told him how people were suffering in Venezuela because of socialism, the Spanish communist told her: “I don’t deny that there are people who are suffering in Venezuela: It is true that your class lives much worse today. But, the majority poor live much, much better”.
So these opposition seems to have sufficient wealth in order to be able to live better than Europeans in Europe, doing things which many Europeans are finding very difficult in post 2008 crisis world.
Of course while this example illustrates a decent segment of the situation of the upper class opposition in Venezuela, there would be those who are really suffering because they were not able to hoard enough wealth when they had the privilege, and still refusing to accept the help from their elected government.
Refusing is an important keyword here – for if they actually just accept the services and aid their government is rendering, they can easily go through most of their problems – from food to medicine.
For example Venezuelan government provides a health hotline service which you can call to get your prescription drugs. But it requires a health card and a social security number equivalent. Just like in every single developed country in the world.
However, if you refuse to go and register for healthcare and receive your free number and your free card, naturally you cannot call the hotline and get your prescription drugs. Just like in every single developed country.
Things like these are presented as ‘suffering’ in corporate western media, with the aim of delegitimizing the Venezuelan government in the eyes of western public so that they wont oppose the regime change agenda.
That regime change agenda was going well for a while in between 2014–2018, when the major part of the sanctions hit Venezuela and the socialist government had to scramble to mitigate the effects.
At that point, the opposition had acquired a tiny majority in the parliament. Not enough to do anything, but to create some issues for the existing government. Regime change looked like possible via democratic means. And they did create some issues for a while.
But Maduro government kept working:
And voila – at 2 million recently:
So in the same period, Maduro government built and delivered ~2 million homes for the Venezuela’s poor.
Naturally this was going to reflect at the polls. And therefore the US backed opposition had done a smart move and refused to participate in the election by calling elections a ‘sham’ – something which would prevent the real, minority support behind them from being exposed in the ballot box.
There was no other way for them but to refuse the elections by just proactively declaring them as ‘sham’, because Venezuelan elections are pretty rock solid when it comes to accuracy:
Each vote has 3 records of proof, and one is a paper trail. To compare, for example, majority of votes in US do not have any paper trail, they are just electronic and the central tabulating machines that collect them are hackable by even cheap laptops.
Though some US states started requiring paper trail for votes, majority of US states perform elections on such shaky ground. And due to the first past the post system, gerrymandering and many other devices, parties in US can get majority and dominate US congress with as little as 15% of total votes, in part to small voter turnout.
Naturally, this leads to Venezuelan elections being much more legitimate than US elections due to paper trail, voter turnout, and especially the fact that over 200 international organizations watch the elections.
“As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”
That’s what Jimmy Carter, ex US president, who monitored 90 elections worldwide including US elections through his non profit Carter Center, says. (source) Venezuelan elections are the most monitored elections in human history as well.
And below is how US corporate media outlets construct the fallacies and lies about Venezuela in order to demonize its system and its administration – when Carter Center sent their report to CNN after CNN’s request, this happened:
After sending in the article, a few hours later CNN asked me for sources on poverty reduction under Chavez, and cites for the polls. I easily obliged with their request and provided credible, accessible citations.
They sent me back an edited version, this time with an added sentence after Carter’s statement on the Venezuelan electoral process, stating that the Carter Center had abandoned Venezuela in 2015 and was no longer observing their elections. The statement seemed to disqualify Carter’s 2012 applause of Venezuela’s elections, basically implying that while Carter may have said that then, now was a different story and the Carter Center wanted nothing to do with it. I told CNN there was no way I would include a statement discrediting Carter’s 2012 affirmation of the Venezuelan electoral process as the best in the world. If they wanted context, I could write that the Carter Center no longer operates in Venezuela because the system there is flawless and no longer needs external observation. I didn’t hear back from them for over 24 hours.
As you can understand, there is no legitimate way to try to overthrow a government which is legitimately elected with support of the majority, so US just keeps calling elections in Venezuela illegitimate. Just like the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Not participating in the last elections totally eradicated any chances of the US backed opposition of taking over Venezuela peacefully. Naturally they started to resort to ‘different’ methods, ranging from the recent assassination attempt against Maduro to outright employing ultra right nationalists to create some kind of civil war.
All attempts failed. Hence US first prodded the fascist governments they fostered in the recent years (Brazil, Columbia etc) to attack Venezuela.
That also didn’t produce any results. Because when the first talk of ‘freedom fighters’ was uttered by US back during his time, Chavez went and bought ~300,000 AK-47s and trained a citizen’s militia. Which totally eliminated any potential scenario like the one in Syria.
A wise move, since US moves in the region point to a greater destabilization plan of creating ‘failed states’ all across Caribbean after Iraq/Libya model, judging from the reports and speeches from US military-industry complex think-thanks and prominent figures.
Thus, Chavez had blocked the first leg of this operation by creating his people’s militia.
So, with nothing worth doing to overthrow legitimate Venezuelan government, US establishment just went ahead and declared the illegitimate, unelected, ultra-right opposition leader as president, prompting their satellites to do so, possibly with the hopes of creating some kind of civil war, even though it is unlikely.
The unelected ‘president’ immediately published an economic program, which includes selling Venezuelan oil, privatizing everything, and ending all social programs ranging from education to housing. The usual neoliberal sociopathy that happened in every single country which got US backed regimes in the past few years – Argentina, Brazil etc.
They don’t even wait for taking over the country to destroy self sufficiency of Venezuela’s poor. They utilize ‘opposition’ elements, basically paramilitaries to attack and destroy any initiative poor people prosper themselves or do it with government’s help:
Within hours of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó calling for street mobilisations to back his attempted military coup against President Nicolás Maduro on April 30, Guaidó’s supporters had looted and set fire to the headquarters of the Indio Caricuao Commune in south-west Caracas.
The building was used for local residents’ meetings and housed a commune-run textile enterprise, which funds projects in the community.
Atenea Jiménez, from the National Network of Comuneros (commune activists) said: “Once again attacks on the communes by fascist sectors have begun.”
She also noted however that comuneros “are facing persecution by sections of the government”, in reference to the March 23 arrest and 71-day long detention of 10 comuneros who occupied a state-owned rice processing plant in Portuguesa state. The occupation denounced the fact that private management who were hired to run it refused to work with local producers.
“Why is this occurring? Because the commune is the only space that disputes power … it is one of the few, genuine, self-convened spaces for building direct democracy,” she said.
No tolerance for any control of poor people over the economy or their own fate. No tolerance for any kind of organization that may challenge private interests.
These tell us clearly what’s behind this regime change attempt in Venezuela, and what’s at stake. Definitely not ‘democracy’, or Venezuelan people.
That tells clearly what’s behind this regime change attempt in Venezuela, and what’s at stake. Definitely not ‘democracy’, or Venezuelan people.
So what’s happening in Venezuela is not complicated:
It is an attempt by US to keep South America as its colonial backyard, by relying on a small minority upper class that identifies as ‘European’ and despises mestizo, indigenous peoples of their countries as ‘lower class’, in order for US corporations to not only rape resources and people of Venezuela like how they are raping Americans at home, but also for creating a means for propaganda for their corporate media to declare that ‘Socialism fails’, in order to avert the rising tide of social democrat people’s movement in US in the face of immense inequality and poverty.
Socialism fails every time… But for some reason, every time it fails, it needs a lot of help from the US in the form of sanctions, economic warfare, ‘freedom fighters’, and even outright bombing and invasions…