Venezuela is the latest in the long list of nations the U.S. has targeted for a change in government. The U.S. is using economic/financial means including sanctions as well as U.S. nongovernmental organizations and the media to undermine President Nicolas Maduro and his Socialist Party.
In addition to a number of crucial errors by the Maduro administration, this U.S. approach has played a role in destroying the country's stability and greatly increased the suffering and hardships experienced by Venezuelans. This is the same method the U.S. used to prepare Chile for the military coup against its socialist President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973.
If a nation either refuses to adopt Uncle Sam's policies or it has lots of valuable resources, often the U.S. will use some pretext to push for regime change. Unfortunately for Venezuela, its government strongly opposes the U.S. neoliberal policies. Moreover, it also has the world's largest estimated oil reserve as well as large reserves of water, minerals and natural gas.
Tom Mayer's Oct. 20 Peace Train column provided an excellent and succinct discussion about the difficulties faced by socialists in trying to reform the economic/political system in Venezuela.
Many U.S. politicians and media, part of the U.S. campaign against Venezuela, claim that Venezuelan's government is a dictatorship. Note that Hugo Chavez was democratically elected president in 1998 and re-elected in 2000. In 2002, Venezuelan opponents of Chavez attempted to oust him and his government. After this coup initially succeeded, the U.S. quickly endorsed the new government. However, popular and military support for Chavez soon thwarted this short-lived overthrow.
Why was Chavez so popular, particularly among the majority of the population who suffered greatly under the previous U.S.-approved administrations? Simply, Chavez used the wealth generated by Venezuela's oil and natural gas to benefit all the people, not just the upper-income groups. Under Chavez, income inequality, poverty and extreme poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality were greatly reduced while life expectancy increased and the government provided universal health care. Understandably, Chavez was reelected again in 2006 and 2012.
After Chavez died in office, his Vice President Nicolas Maduro was then democratically elected as president in 2013. The opposition gained control of the Venezuelan National Assembly in the 2015 elections. The Socialist Party recently won gubernatorial elections in 18 of Venezuela's 23 states, and municipal elections will be held later this year. International election observers report that the gubernatorial elections were fair. Moreover, the next presidential election is scheduled for early in 2019.
Recently Rep. Jared Polis sent out an update. Here is a brief excerpt: "Representative Mike Coffman and I have issued a bipartisan call to increase pressure on Venezuela to end their dictatorship and allow free and fair elections."
Their dictatorship claim is suspect given all these elections deemed to be free and fair. In addition, our media and politicians don't discuss the U.S. role in the suffering of the Venezuelan people. For more info, see counterpunch.org/2017/08/11/venezuela-target-of-economic-warfare. Please call Rep. Polis at 202-225-2161 and ask him to withdraw his misguided and harmful bill.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.