The focus is now on Venezuela, but the U.S. is really the key actor in this long-running drama. In reality, Venezuela is simply a small player in the United States' centuries-long imperial campaign that began with the genocide of American Indians. Ever since then, the U.S. has expanded its reach and interests throughout the world.
In particular, the U.S. business community, especially really large corporations and banks, is always looking to expand. Businesses first focused on the U.S. and then worldwide in search for more markets for their products and for more resources for the manufacture of goods. Their ability to expand outside the U.S. depended on there being leaders willing to allow U.S. interests into their countries and to provide favorable treatment for them. In case a leader was opposed to the entry of U.S. interests, various tactics were used to influence them to change their view. John Perkins' book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" provides details on these tactics.
The U.S. often resorts to the more extreme tactics of supporting coups or actually attacking the recalcitrant nation. William Blum, a former State Department official, addressed these aspects of U.S. foreign policy in his series of books and articles. His 2004 book "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II" documented U.S. interference in the political affairs of more than 50 nations between 1945 and 1994. His articles in the Anti-Empire Report also provide great information.
The U.S. has been particularly active in overthrowing governments in Central and South America. Two of these U.S.-supported coups are of current interest. The first was the coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 that led to the bloody Pinochet military dictatorship. Showing the U.S. leaders' disdain for democracy, after Allende's election in 1970, Henry Kissinger commented: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."
In 2002, the U.S. supported the coup, claimed to be done in the name of democracy, against Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected Venezuelan leader. According to William Blum, Monty Python legend Terry Jones described it by saying Chávez was ousted in "a free and fair democratic coup, only to be returned to office two days later on what seems to have been little more than the whim of the people."
Do you believe the U.S. has suddenly changed under the current administration and now supports democracy in Venezuela? Or is it more likely the U.S. is trying to put a puppet in place of the democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro? Despite his faults, Maduro is the legitimate president who is defending Venezuelan democracy and sovereignty against U.S. interference.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.