02/02/2019 by socialistfight
Anti-Imperialist United Front against the USA; defeat the desperate warmongering global hegemon
Liaison Committee for the Fourth International,
Statement on Venezuela: 2-2-2019
As the global crisis of world imperialism deepens the Trump administration grows ever more warmongering and desperate to reassert its global domination as the sole superpower to restore and enhance the profit rates of its great finance houses and transnational corporations. There are four major regions which are the targets of its aggression today:
- China and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea),
- Syria, including Iran and the whole of the Middle East Region,
- Russia and the conflict in Ukraine and
- Venezuela, including Cuba and Bolivia.
Right now, Trump is focusing on China and Venezuela, having suffered defeats and reached a stalemate in the Middle East and Ukraine. However, all these conflicts are closely inter-related; the conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela are US-sponsored proxy and regime change wars to prepare for the attack on the prime targets, the advanced semi-colonial nations of Russia and China. We reject with contempt those so-called revolutionaries who seek to defend US imperialism by portraying Russia and China as Eastern Imperialists, the equal and opposite of Western imperialists. Their logic is that we should have no sides in the global struggle and adopt a dual-defeatist position as between the competing imperialist blocs in WWI and WWII.
Defend Maduro and Venezuela
We must defend Nicolás Maduro and Venezuela against the blatant US-sponsored coup attempt. Unconditional but critical support is the Marxist line, the anti-imperialist united front without political support in the domestic class struggle is the tactic. National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó declared himself Venezuela’s acting President on 13 January. Guaidó had been arrested by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service the same day but was released 45 minutes later. The agents who arrested him were sacked by Maduro. Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State, denounced the arrest, calling it an “arbitrary detention”. Two journalists, Beatriz Adrián of Caracol Televisión and Osmary Hernández of CNN, were arrested whilst on-air for covering the arrest in the wrong way, in a desperate attempt at appeasement by Maduro.
It didn’t work, Guaidó had himself sworn in as interim president on 23 January amid much violence and bloodshed. Trump immediately recognised him as the rightful head of state. Maduro immediately broke relations with the USA and ordered the Ambassador and embassy staff to leave the country. On the 26 January the US called an emergency session of the UN Security Council and Pompeo demanded: “It is time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays, no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem,” By 27 January 27 Maduro had backed down following threats of immediate unspecified action by the US and agreed to maintain diplomatic ties, although now this ambassador was pledging his allegiance to Guaidó.
Venezuela has the largest oil deposits in the world. On 28 January Trump issued an executive order for the US Treasury Department to take control of Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company which is the nation’s largest employer and revenue source. It will continue to operate but all its assets and profits are frozen in the USA. This is also the source not only of most of the welfare provisions for the working class and poor but also of the privileges of the military and other Maduro supporters. The economic crisis in Venezuela has resulted in three million refugees and inflation rates of a million percent a year. This crisis is only partly due to the fall in the price of oil; US economic sanctions are the main reason as they were in Zimbabwe, Iran and Turkey recently.
Thus, the coup is driving at the real reason the military has backed Chavez and Maduro so strongly over the years; they bunged them handsomely. Guaidó has offered them all amnesties if they turn against Madero. National Security Advisor John Bolton urged the military to “accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power”.
The second biggest danger is that the working class and poor in the barrios and favelas will become even more demoralised by the failure of Chavez and Maduro to act against the open agents of US imperialism; the very rich and powerful capitalist class whose wealth and privileges is protected by the state. And those privileges include the right to stage regular coup attempts to test the loyalty of Maduro’s base and the loyalty of the military.
The international line up
Internationally the line-up is similar to the Canada/China affair apart from the EU backing the coup. Russia, China, Italy, (for its own opportunist reasons against the EU), Syria, Iran, Mexico, Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Workers’ Party of Brazil, Hezbollah, and Turkey have publicly backed Maduro. New Zealand says it has concerns about the 2018 Venezuelan elections but refuses to take sides. The US, Israel, Canada, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Britain, Germany Spain; more than 20 countries in all have now recognised the unelected US stooge Guaidó as the legitimate president.
The US is now in peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, having failed to defeat the guerrilla army. Bolton welcomed the talks and observers spotted a handwritten message on his notepad “5,000 troops to Colombia” obviously to attack Venezuela, a course of action Trump has urged; “nothing is off the table”. Moscow and Beijing have billions invested in loans and energy deals in Venezuela. Russia sent two nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela on 10 December following Maduro’s visit the previous week. The bombers were accompanied by an AN-124 transport aircraft and an Il-62 passenger jet, 100 pilots and other Russian officials. This team and war apparatus flew over 10,000 km to Venezuela, in a clear demonstration of support from Putin to Maduro.
If tensions follow the current course, it is quite likely a scenario of changing the gravitational center of the world’s Middle East conflicts to Latin America, where the US seeks to regain political, military and economic control at the expense of coups, electoral manoeuvres, lawfare and hybrid wars, and through a growing military presence. In the Middle East the US has just suffered its biggest defeat in Syria, causing Trump to call for troop withdrawals from the region.
All this takes place in an international context of volatile oil prices. Wars with Iran and Venezuela would cause a huge spike in oil prices, and the House of Saud will eventually fall. Following the collapse of oil prices in 2014 (30% from $93) and 2015 (46% down to $49) in 2019 it is now at $51 and rising. Further rises will make American shale unprofitable, as its extraction costs are far higher than any other. Imperialism is preparing for the dispute over this strategic energy resource, not just for its home market, because shale has given it that protection, even if unprofitable to extract, but to control the global markets.
Also, from 2018, the oil multinationals ratcheted up the conflict between Guyana and Venezuela, with the assistance of the coup government of Brazil, to harass Venezuela and allow multinationals like ExxonMobil to take over the maritime area on the Atlantic coast north of the Amazon Delta of the Orinoco River. The puppet governments of Brazil and Colombia have frequently met, obviously encouraged by their master in the north, to formulate a plan for diplomatic and military confrontation against the “Venezuelan threat”, both on the Guiana issue and on the migratory crisis provoked by criminal sanctions, US-sponsored blockades and shortages in Venezuela.
Imperialism, which has been steadily taking over Brazilian Petroleum since the parliamentary coup of 2016, is now seeking to seize Venezuela’s essential resources, not only oil, but also gold. It seems that Venezuela has important reserves of gold. The crisis is especially marked because one of the resistance weapons of the Eurasian bloc in the commercial war against the US is to re-establish the prevailing gold standard until World War II as a bargaining chip, de-dollarizing world trade. This confrontation has obvious global political and strategic military consequences.
Pompeo tweeted when in Egypt:
“The US condemns the usurpation of #Maduro’s illegitimate power and urges those who support the Venezuelan regime, including the security forces that have vowed to support the constitution, to stop allowing repression and corruption. The time is NOW for a return to democracy in #Venezuela.”
Pompeo made no such complaints when Egyptian military dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was imposed on his country’s population by a military coup backed by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia in July 2013. This coup massacred some 1,600 and took some 60,000 political prisoners, leftists and supporters of Mohamed Morsi, who was the only democratically elected president of Egypt barely a year before.
The Organization of American States (OAS), as a confraternity of US stooge colonies, did not “recognise the legitimacy” of Maduro’s second term and demanded new elections, backing coup leader Guaidó. The so-called Lima Group, formed by the governments of 14 Latin American countries and Canada, passed a resolution demanding that Maduro resign and hand over power to the Congress, controlled by Guaidó. Following the May 2018 election which strengthened President Maduro’s position, the Lima Group recalled their ambassadors from Venezuela, dubbing the elections illegitimate, despite the report of the international observers (see below).
Trump flirts with the war for economic reasons, to cater to the appetites of multinational corporations, but also for internal political reasons. The deep imperialist state constantly harasses him. There is a dispute over who rules over the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI works directly with the Department of Justice, whereas the CIA and other intelligence agencies deal with the State Department or the Department of Defense. The National Security Agency (NSA) is responsible for collecting, monitoring, and processing information and data for counterintelligence and foreign intelligence actions and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) provides military intelligence to soldiers and fighters in the field, defence policymakers, officials in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.
Unlike Honduras, Paraguay, Brazil or Ukraine, so far imperialism and its agents have been defeated in all disputes in the various state fields and in Venezuelan civil society. The coup process has failed in electoral fraud, impeachment, terrorist attacks, street control, use of lawfare. For this reason, the appeals and attacks of imperialism have been accentuated in an essential field for any coup d’état, the Armed Forces. In Venezuela, the Armed Forces have very particular characteristics, due to the condition of the country to be a Petrostate (a state whose majority income comes from petroleum commodification) and where the military directly controls the PDVSA, a condition in which certain contradictions are created with the expropriating interests of imperialism and its oil corporations. Russia and China have been exploring this contradiction in the sale of war material and the purchase of a growing share of Venezuelan oil, respectively.
Thus, the coup is driving at the real reason the military has backed Chavez and Maduro so strongly over the years; they bribed them handsomely. Guaidó has offered them all amnesties if they turn against Madero. National Security Advisor John Bolton urged the military to “accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power”.
The CIA and the DIA, the international intelligence agencies, are mostly in Trump’s service, and the FBI and the NSA, as national bodies, generally favour the Democratic opposition, with support from a wing of the Republicans. The threats to Venezuela work as compensation for the defeat in Syria. With each defeat in the old world, there must be a victory to compensate in the new world, for instance the loss of Turkey as an area of influence to Russia and China is compensated for by the political conquest of the Brazilian government.
However, the heads of ALL four agencies testified before Congress on 29 January and contradicted almost every single utterance on foreign policy Trump ever made. All of them were appointed by him. The FBI is the only security agency that is charged with counter-intelligence in the US, like MI5 in the UK. The CIA is, by Charter, not allowed to do so. The FBI had “heard” enough rumours to investigate Trump as a credible security threat vis-a-vis Russia…before the election. This would go on even *after* his election as someone has to be on the lookout for…treason at the top. That’s the FBI.
In essence, the offensive on Venezuela obeys the purpose of creating a protected space for the US, a kind of America for the US first, and thus compensate for the setback that In essence, the offensive on Venezuela obeys the purpose of creating a shielded space for the US, a kind of America for the US first, and thus compensate for the setback that the most powerful nation has been suffering increasingly and cumulatively in India, Pakistan, Turkey, and much of sub-Saharan Africa.
The conflict within US imperialism resulted in the longest federal government shutdown in the country’s history, from 22 December to 25 January 2019, because of the institutional internal war between Trump and the Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives. The president of the United States refused to approve part of the federal budget because it did not include resources of the order of US $5.7 billion for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, one of his main campaign promises. Although Trump blinked first it was not until so many unpaid air traffic controllers phoned in sick that airports were forced to close and the population blamed Trump.
British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesperson said Maduro was “still president. We don’t want any interference.” Labour should condemn any imperialist intervention far more forcefully than that. Guaidó’s Popular Will is a social-democratic party which joined the Socialist International in December 2014. On 24 January Bernie Sanders, the ‘socialist’ who narrowly failed to get the Democratic party nomination for President in 2016, tweeted:
“The Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society, violated the constitution by dissolving the National Assembly and was re-elected last year in an election many observers said was fraudulent. The economy is a disaster and millions are migrating”.
To prove his allegiance to US imperialism he followed this with:
“The United States should support the rule of law, fair elections, and self-determination for the Venezuelan people. We must condemn the use of violence against unarmed protesters and the suppression of dissent.”
And, just in case we took this to mean he was a complete Trump stooge, he hastily assured us:
“But we must learn the lessons of the past and not be in the business of regime change or supporting coups—as we have in Chile, Guatemala, Brazil & the DR. The US has a long history of inappropriately intervening in Latin American nations; we must not go down that road again”.
As if he had not just advocated such a course for Venezuela himself.
The bogus justifications
Justifications for supporting this thinly disguised coup are that Maduro is guilty of human rights abuses and rigging elections. The human right abuses are arresting violent right-wing thugs trying to overthrow his government. The EU, for instance, following Bernie, wrote:
“Major obstacles to the participation of opposition political parties and their leaders, an unbalanced composition of the National Electoral Council, biased electoral conditions, numerous reported irregularities during the Election Day, including vote buying, stood in the way of fair and equitable elections.”
The EU demanded new elections, as the OAS had, but international observers of the elections have written to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, about the problems with the EU declaration on the elections, refuting these claims:
“I was a member of a roughly hundred-strong core of observers of the May 20 Venezuelan election. We met senior representatives of all the candidates and questioned them closely. We met with the president and two vice-presidents of the Supreme Judicial Tribunal. We examined the electoral system in detail and, on election day, observed voting procedures across the country
… In short, the claims in your press release are fabrications of the most disgraceful kind, based on hearsay and not on evidence and unworthy of the EU. It has not escaped notice that the EU was invited to send observers to the election and declined to do so. NONE of the criticism in your EU press release is, therefore, based on direct EU observation in the field.”
Jeremy Fox, journalist/writer, Joseph Farrell, Board of the Centre for Investigative Journalism
Calvin Tucker, journalist MS, Dr Francisco Dominguez, Latin American Studies, Middlesex University,
Overcoming the Chavez impasse, towards the proletarian revolution!
Fidel Castro did not finally expropriate all the Cuban bourgeoisie until 19 April 1961, three days after the Bay of Pigs, when he declared the revolution ‘socialist’, i.e. cloned on the USSR. But he had expropriated the US-backed ‘comprador’ bourgeoisie the year before. The continuing popularity of the Cuban Stalinist regime rests on that, and the measures for health care and education, etc. taken more seriously after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. However, Cuba is close to capitalist restoration now with extensive privatisation; the Stalinist ruling cast is dismantling more of the nationalised planned economy every year.
If the USA expropriates Venezuela’s oil corporation then why does Maduro not expropriate the pro-US capitalist enemy forces within his country? He is doomed if he does not if not this time then in the next, better-prepared coup. After two decades in the government, the Chavismo is discredited before the population in two aspects. First, though it rhetorically announces its choice for socialism and against imperialism, it concretely opposes this anti-capitalist rupture and frustrates its popular base. Second, this impasse allows the powerful imperialist enemies and their local agents to move forward with the economic sabotage that undermines the confidence of the Chavismo in protecting the living conditions of the population. Despite the international observers declaring the undisputed victories of Maduro in the Constituent Assembly an opposition coup now looms.
The political breakdown derived from the strategic deadlock was expressed in high abstention. The biggest of them all in the last 20 years. This abstention, which was boosted by the boycott orchestrated by the opposition who knew they could not win the elections, causes the masses to turn away from politics. Maduro got three times the number of votes of his nearest rival, nevertheless, that corresponds to only 28% of the voters of Venezuela. Not bad compared to the victory that gave the government to Trump, whose agents today question the legitimacy of Maduro. The US president won the presidential election over Hillary Clinton backed by only 26% of American voters, and actually got almost 2.868 million votes less than Hilary Clinton.
The Venezuelan working class knows that it needs to make a tactical united front with Maduro, against imperialism and its coup agents, as well as against the puppet government of Brazil and Colombia and to advance strategically with its Latin American working brothers, including Brazilians and Colombians to overcome Maduro, claiming arms from Maduro and Putin and taking political control of the means of production, communication and the armed forces.
The Bolivarian National Militia must be expanded to arm the entire people and even internationalize with all the Latin American and Caribbean brothers who wish to enlist in it (including Brazilians, Colombians and Guianas), to disarm preachers to the coup and defend the country of an imperialist aggression that instrumentalizes the governments and troops of Bolsonaro and Duque. Following the current impasse is the sure path to a bloody defeat, the same or worse than that of Egypt. Those who make half a revolution inevitably suffer the consequence.