The kindest word I can use to express my displeasure at seeing John Peeler’s recent LA Progressive piece: “Fuera Maduro! Socialism Does Not Imply Incompetence”, is “dumbfounded”. I won’t waste time critiquing Peeler’s piece, a piece, in essence, echoing the Trump Administration’s call upon Maduro to get out (“fuera”) of Venezuela! Why? Because, as the U.S. tries to install a puppet government in Venezuela, the question facing the people of the United States today is not whether or not Maduro has lived up to what brother Peeler thinks should be the standard of socialist competence. Rather, the very real and very urgent question facing the progressive community in America today is, “what will we do to stop our government, the United States government, an imperialist government, from over-throwing the elected Maduro government in Venezuela”? And, “What will we do to stop the U.S. from effectuating a coup in Venezuela, thereby installing as that country’s leader Juan Guaido, someone who has never secured a single vote to lead that Country”?
What the U.S. has done, with its sanctions and such, is to cynically attempt to createa crisis in Venezuela and then use the lie that such a crisis exists as an excuse toover-throw the Venezuelan government, by coup, or if need be by a U.S. military invasion.
My answer, and the answer of more than a couple of hundred other individuals and organizations, including my organization, the National Lawyers Guild; and, Code Pink, Media Benjamin, Cindy Sheehan, Black Alliance for Peace, Jill Stein, Danny Glover, Cuba & Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Max Blumenthal, and the Office of the Americas, has been to endorse the ANSWER Coalition’s call for massive protests around the nation on Saturday, March 16th, demanding no coup, no sanctions, and no U.S. military or political intervention in Venezuela! There will be a national march and rally in D.C. that day, as well as regional protests around the country. Here in Los Angeles on March 16th, we will gather at Pershing Square at 2:00 p.m. and march to L.A.’s City Hall.
About that so-called “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela: The mainstream press consistently presents a one-sided picture of the actual situation in Venezuela, meant to show that Maduro is cruelly depriving his “starving” people of food and medicine. While it’s true that U.S. policies have made it harder for the poor of Venezuela, there is no “humanitarian crisis” there. In fact, despite the U.S. instituted blockade, the blocking of Venezuela’s bank accounts, and the U.S. sanctions, Venezuela itself regularly provides food directly to 6 million families; providing 12,000 tons in the Andrean Region, alone. And just last week the Maduro government received 933 tons of food and other aid from China and Cuba; and, Russia has now said it is going to send 300 tons of Russian aid, which is 10-times the amount that the U.S. has pledged to send and that is now held up at the border. Held up at the border because this U.S. aid is not designed to alleviate any humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but solely to advance the coup planned by right-wing forces inside Venezuela, operating with the full support of the Trump Administration. (This is why the United Nations and the Red Cross have both said the U.S. “aid” does not meet the definition of “humanitarian” aid, which must be neutral, apolitical and requested by the receiving country.)
What the U.S. has done, with its sanctions and such, is to cynically attempt to create a crisis in Venezuela and then use the lie that such a crisisexists as an excuse toover-throw the Venezuelan government, by coup, or if need be by a U.S. military invasion. And isn’t it ironic that while the U.S. media rants on and on about, “Russian meddling in our 2016 election”, it has felt no need to criticize the U.S. government which, not content to merely meddle in Venezuela’s elections, as it has, is now prepared to work its will on the people of Venezuela by force, if need be.
Have you noticed how Trump has now latched on to the idea of crying, “Humanitarian crisis”, whenever he wants to take action that would be unpopular if the real purpose for his planned action was stated? There is now, according to Trump, that is, “a humanitarian crisis” on our border with Mexico. There isn’t, of course. But to say he wants to build his stupid wall in order to, “keep those Mexican thugs and rapists out” doesn’t have the same ring to it as the claim of a “humanitarian crisis.” Ironically, when a real crisis manifests, such as the devastating hurricane that destroyed so much of Puerto Rico, Trump didn’t talk about a “humanitarian crisis”, but about how, “Puerto Rico is out in the ocean. There is a lot of water around Puerto Rico”. Mind you, he could have exercised the crisis-waiver provision under the Jones Act, and thereby allowed near-by foreign flagged ships to bring truly needed food and medicine to the people of Puerto Rico, but he waited almost 10-days to do so…all in the face of a real humanitarian crisis. No, Trump doesn’t give a damn about the people of Venezuela; only the profits to be sucked out of the place with the right U.S. puppet government running the country.
And who is Trump’s advance man for this take-over of Venezuela? None other than Elliot Abrams, previously convicted for his illegal activities in the Iran-Contra scam; a scam set up to deliver drug money and weapons to right-wing death squads in Central America. This is the same Elliot Abrams who used a false-flag operation of snipers shooting into an opposition protest during the failed U.S. backed coup attempt against Hugo Chavez in 2002, who then led the Venezuelan government.
While you wouldn’t know it from watching CNN or other U.S. news outlets, who constantly show huge anti-Maduro protests, is that equally large, if not larger, pro-Maduro protests also occur. However, there is one difference between the two sides’ protests, as photos of the protests make embarrassingly clear: the anti-government protesters are virtually all white while the pro-Maduro protesters are virtually all brown skinned Venezuelan people; the poor people who have benefited from socialist governance there. Make no mistake about it, the reason why Trump wants to over-throw the Maduro government and install an unelected Juan Guaido in his place, is because getting rid of the socialist government in Venezuela will mean more profits for Corporate America.
Fifty to Seventy-five years ago, U.S. Imperialism was at least a bit more honest about its illegal and immoral military interventions into other nations. Then, our elected officials argued such interventions, as in Korea and Vietnam, for example, were in “our national interests”. And if you simply substituted the word “corporate” for the word “our”, that is indeed why such interventions took place. They took place to advance the capitalist interests of Corporate America!
Speaking of Vietnam, Trump is due to be in Hanoi during the week of February 25th to March 1st, meeting with Kim Jong Un. While there, I would advise Trump to talk to the North Vietnamese leaders and ask them how, when the U.S. invaded that country on behalf of “our national interests”, the war turned out for America. Because if Trump decides on U.S. military intervention in Venezuela, he can expect the same outcome!
And so sisters and brothers, I urge all who are tired of more Vietnam War-styled U.S. military interventions, to show up at Pershing Square on Saturday, March 16th, 2:00 p.m., demanding “No U.S. Coup in Venezuela”! “End the Sanctions” “No U.S. War in Venezuela”! Because, as with the war in Vietnam, only we the people can stop a U.S. imperialist war in Venezuela and, in so doing, save the lives of the Venezuelan people and the youth of America, who fight and die in such wars.
Jim Lafferty, is the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles; and the host of The Lawyers Guild Show on KPFK, 90.7 fm.