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Venezuela in 2019: A successful year of resistance

Faced with months of brutal US economic aggression, most other governments would have collapsed or capitulated. FRANCISCO DOMINGUEZ explains the Bolivarian revolution’s enduring popularity

THE failure of Juan Guaido to be re-elected as president of the national assembly is also a failure of the US to bring about regime change through his self-proclamation as “president in charge” of Venezuela. 

It is worth noting that the new leadership of the national assembly and its new president, Luis Parra, are all members of opposition parties. 

The US strategy of Guaido’s presidential self-proclamation could not be more destabilising, especially considering that it has Donald Trump’s recognition and support — and slavish endorsement of most of the EU, plus Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and, of course, the likes of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

The US strategy behind Guaido’s self-proclamation, Operacion Libertad, throughout 2019 involved violent initiatives aimed at bringing about chaos and mayhem sufficiently intense to justify external (US military) intervention. 

This was the case with the attempt, with the support of Colombian armed forces, police and paramilitaries, to push by violent military means US-donated “humanitarian aid” across the border with Venezuela in Cucuta, Colombia. 

The paramilitaries would take over a city or big town, proclaim it “liberated territory,” fly in a “Guaido provisional government” and call for international assistance to be positively responded by the US military — exactly the model the US sought to deploy in Cuba in April 1961. It failed then and it failed in Venezuela in February 2019. 
 
In March 2019, a cyber-attack against Venezuela’s electricity system produced total blackout for five days. 

It brought the country to a halt, interrupting or obstructing the functioning of all its services, including transport, water and healthcare (dozens, including babies, died in hospitals). 

The blackout was unsuccessful in its intention to instil panic and desperation, which extreme rightwingers sought to exploit by encouraging looting so as to justify external (US military) intervention. 

In April 2019, Guaido, with well-known extreme rightwinger Leopoldo Lopez, staged a farcical attempted coup d’etat during which a few dozens soldiers blocked a Caracas thoroughfare, where they languished for hours waiting for a non-existent military uprising. 

The coup ended with golpista soldiers seeking asylum in the Brazilian embassy, Lopez in the Chilean then Spanish embassy, and, Guaido, tail between his legs, back to his home, surrounded by embarrassment. 

They waited in vain for a government knee-jerk reaction leading to a shootout with an abundance of corpses, thus justifying external (US military) intervention. 

The military remained totally loyal while, wisely, the government allowed the coup to just crumble away. 

Then the US activated the Lima Group (comprised of representatives of right-wing Latin American governments), led by the golpista Organisation of American States secretary-general Luis Almagro, seeking to both isolate the Venezuelan government and create the conditions for an international (US military) intervention. 

Though they — especially Colombia and Brazil’s Bolsonaro — have been vociferously in favour of such intervention, time and again they have resisted US pressure to commit troops for a military adventure against Venezuela. 

In August, Trump passed a raft of extra economic and financial sanctions, including the freezing and confiscation of Venezuelan assets in the US (of about US$30 billion), as well as the application of penalties against anyone doing business with Venezuela. 

It brought Venezuelan financial transactions in the world almost to a total halt. US strategists expected panic and capitulation from Maduro but instead were met by more resilience. 

Throughout the year, Guaido called for mass mobilisation almost weekly, each time with less support. His team has been beset by accusations of corruption even from his own “ambassador” to Colombia; by irrefutable evidence of strong connections with Colombian narco-trafficking paramilitaries, and by growing fragmentation in the opposition and within his own base. 

The US got the Lima Group, led by Almagro, to use the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR in its Spanish acronym) to apply sanctions against Venezuela. 

A US-designed military treaty, TIAR’s activation has a military threatening flavour, but it left Venezuela unimpressed.

According to the Venezuelan government, Guaido’s team ordered a terrorist attack against military barracks during which terrorists murdered a soldier. 

They stole rifles and about 10 rocket launchers, apparently intending to shoot down a Colombian plane, blame Venezuela to generate a conflict and thus get a TIAR-sponsored international (US military) intervention. 

Most weapons were recovered and most of the terrorists were captured.

Since 2019 the US has constantly threatened Venezuela with military action — “all options are on the table” — coupled with aggressive statements from the US southern command and persistent violations of Venezuela’s air and sea space. 

Previously US Vice-President Mike Pence on tour in Latin America sought to create a “coalition of the willing” to undertake military action against Venezuela. 

But all US efforts, though wreaking havoc on Venezuela’s economy and inflicting horrible hardships, shortages and hyperinflation on millions, have failed. 

Trump, “who has made the restoration of democracy in Venezuela one of his signature goals,” faces “a stinging defeat” where military action “is not a realistic option,” concluded a Washington Post editorial (January 8 2020). 

With Guaido out of the picture, defeated by another section of the opposition, Washington has lost a key lever. 

This section of the opposition is in dialogue with the government to jointly prepare elections to the national assembly to be held this year. 

The world’s corporate media plays a perfidious role by persistent and systematic misrepresentation and demonisation of Venezuela’s Bolivarian government. 

But almost nothing else legitimises US policy on Venezuela more than the slavish endorsement it gets from Europe, whose continuous support for Guaido is scandalous — but its almost total silence on repression in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Bolivia and its timidity when it comes to the killings of hundreds of peace activists in Colombia is a disgrace.

Faced with a year of brutal US economic aggression, any other government in the world (Cuba excepted) would have collapsed or capitulated. 

The socio-economic model represented by the Bolivarian revolution explains Venezuelans’ resilience and resistance. 

The model is so structured as to defend the poorest and most vulnerable, such as the CLAP food programme that benefits six million families. 

Venezuela refuses to apply neoliberal policies — its tenacious commitment to free universal healthcare and education and pensions to 100 per cent of those entitled are further examples.

All that — and the building of three million houses for the poor, aiming to reach five million in the coming period — explain why the people of Venezuela support the Bolivarian socio-economic model. Imagine this with no US sanctions or US financial aggression.

The capacity of the model to deliver explains something even more fundamental: the civil-military alliance, cornerstone of the Bolivarian revolution. 

The Bolivarian People’s Militia currently stands at 3.3 million, rapidly being expanded to five million. Bolivarian Venezuela wants dialogue, elections, democracy and peace, not war. But if the US goes for military aggression, millions are willing and ready to defend the patria. No pasaran! Not in 2002, the year of recovery, not ever.

Francisco Dominguez is secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk).

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