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Editorial Fake ‘humanitarian’ face to regime change in Venezuela

WE HAVE it on impeccable authority that the “US push to oust Venezuela’s Maduro marks first shot in plan to reshape Latin America”; that “The Trump administration’s broader aim is to gain leverage over Cuba…” and furthermore that: “The Trump administration’s attempt to force out the president of Venezuela marked the opening of a new strategy to exert greater US influence over Latin America, according to administration officials.”

Our authority, the Wall Street Journal, has the virtue that — in servicing the information needs of US corporate power — it is not obliged to dress its content in the miasma of hypocrisy and obfuscation that our country’s media reserves for its audience.

So when Denis McShane, former Europe minister in the Blairite government, regrets that the EU has been unable to act with one voice in backing Donald Trump’s call for new elections in Venezuela, we should welcome it as signifying an overdue turn to honest dealing from the former MP jailed for fraud.

McShane is annoyed that the Italian government followed the Greek prime minister in refusing to join the regime-change chorus and cites the backing given to the Trump plan by the Socialist International.

Labour has only observer status to this compromised body and Jeremy Corbyn’s unequivocal statement that the future of Venezuela is a matter for Venezuelans serves as a better expression of socialist principle. 

The Labour leader condemned Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s call for more sanctions on Venezuela and reinforced Labour’s opposition to outside interference in the country from the US.

While the US is threatening military action and concentrates troops on the Colombian border, that exemplar of Christian charity, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton, has offered “humanitarian” assistance. 

Not to the Venezuelan government — which exercises effective control over the country’s transport infrastructure and has a long-established system of delivering subsidised food to its population — but to the presidential pretender Juan Guaido who has little executive power but enjoys exceptionally privileged access to the world’s media. 

We should not underestimate the threat to Venezuela’s sovereignty. Its government’s attempts to import vital drugs, food and raw materials are hampered by the sanctions and blockade imposed by the US and its regional allies. 

Open support for military intervention, displayed at Guaido’s weekend rally in the shadow of US and Israeli flags, is limited. 

A survey conducted in early January by the local polling firm Hinterlaces showed 86 per cent of Venezuelans would disagree with international military intervention while 81 per cent oppose the US sanctions.

The hypocritical intent behind the clamour for humanitarian aid to be channelled into the country via Guaido is a threadbare attempt to create a pretext for intervention.

UN Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy emphasised that “coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state. The use of sanctions by outside powers to overthrow an elected government is in violation of all norms of international law.”

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres recognised Nicolas Maduro’s legitimacy and rejected Guaido’s claim. 

Even the Organisation of American States, usually very responsive to US command, failed to recognise Guaido.

There is something practical that Britain can do to provide aid to the Venezuelan people. 

According to the Bloomberg business news portal, Britain holds 14 tonnes of Venezuala’s gold but the Bank of England’s decision to deny Maduro officials’ request for its withdrawal “comes after top US officials, including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Bolton, lobbied their UK counterparts to help cut off the regime from its overseas assets.”

This is a shameful betrayal of trust. The gold should be returned immediately.

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