DEFENCE Secretary Gavin Williamson is notorious for speaking first, and thinking afterwards.
However, the chaos — revealed in today’s Star — over his plan for a new British base in the Caribbean should not disguise the fact that the Tory government does indeed want to expand Britain’s military presence there.
The Caribbean is set to become the next major oil region. Trinidad and Tobago has long been the area’s largest oil and gas producer. ExxonMobil has discovered major reserves off Guyana, including reserves in waters disputed with Venezuela, and is exploring off the coast of neighbouring Suriname.
But it’s not just the Caribbean that interests the Tory government. The total oil reserves of Latin America and the Caribbean amount to 51 billion tonnes, representing 21 per cent of the world’s total.
Top countries include Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina, but they are all outstripped by Venezuela, at nearly 47bn tonnes.
That of course explains much of the motivation behind the Trump administration’s gross interference in Venezuela.
It also explains the British government’s support for Trump — as junior partner to US imperialism — and the intention of a new British military base.
Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton admitted a month ago that the attempted coup in Venezuela was all about providing rich pickings for US oil companies.
Then, in a TV interview yesterday, he cited the infamous Monroe doctrine: “In this country we’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe doctrine’,” he said.
“This is a country in our hemisphere and it’s been the objective of American presidents going back to Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”
The Monroe doctrine was the name given to the policy outlined by President James Monroe in 1823, to oppose European influence in the Western hemisphere. It has been invoked by many presidents since then, including John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
But the doctrine has never been about democracy. It’s always been about making the Western hemisphere safe for US corporate investors, no matter what it costs in people’s blood. Socialist and left-oriented governments in Latin America have been regarded as obstacles to that.
Hence the overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala in 1954, the Bay of Pigs attempted invasion of Cuba in 1961, the CIA-inspired coup against Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, the support for the “Contra” terrorists against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua from 1979 to the 1990s, and the failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002.
Hence also the economic blockade against Cuba from 1961 and, more recently, against Venezuela.
In the same TV interview Bolton spoke about putting together a broad coalition “to replace the whole corrupt regime” in Venezuela.
He disagreed with the suggestion that US support for dictatorships elsewhere “undermines the credibility of your argument.”
Bolton can hardly be blind to his own lack of credibility, or to the corruption that is at the heart of the US administration.
Among other things, Trump appointed convicted criminal Elliot Abrams as special envoy to Venezuela.
Abrams lied to the US Congress about his role in covert financing of the Contras under Reagan. He was a supporter of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Mott, convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013.
He also backed the Salvadoran military government that massacred tens of thousands of people.
US Vice-President Mike Pence too has recently cited the Monroe doctrine. But the US administration knows that in the modern world military intervention needs a pretext.
It attempted to find it with the so-called “humanitarian aid” shipments. It is now seeking to promote civil war over its stooge Juan Guaido.
The Venezuelan people need our solidarity. Our government should be told in no uncertain terms that Britain should have no base in the Caribbean, and no part in the Monroe doctrine.
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