Venezuela, epicenter of the historic dispute | by Jorge Arreaza Montserrat
Without a doubt, the aggression that has been carried out in the past months against democracy and social peace, and against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, are unparalleled in the tense relations between the peoples of Our America and the dominant corporate elite of the U.S. This comprehensive, unconventional war unleashed against the Venezuelan people is the current expression of a complex historic struggle that has different fronts and expressions:
• Economically, through the attack by national capitalist sectors in combination with the unrelenting and inhumane commercial blockade imposed by the Trump administration;
• Information warfare, through the creation of false narratives to discredit Venezuelan institutions and confuse global public opinion;
• War itself, on the ground, with intelligence agencies from foreign countries acting to stoke military conspiracies, buy consciences, organize and train armed groups to impinge upon peace in the country;
• The ideological front, which brings back everything from the anachronic Monroe Doctrine to the most antiquated anti-socialist arguments from the Cold War, in a sort of 21st century McCarthyism, through systematic attacks on models of democratic socialism, with the goal of inducing their failure and comparing them to the “successes” of savage neoliberal capitalism;
• And the international political and diplomatic front, through which the bureaucracy of the State Department, relying on bodies such as the Departments of the Treasury and Defense, as well as National Security Advisors, has been deployed in an outpouring of anti-diplomacy to pressure, extort and attempt, through every means available, to isolate the Venezuelan State from the international system, in multilateral bodies and in the capitals of practically every country on the planet.
Understanding the Historical Conflict
It is impossible to analyze the socio-political reality in Venezuela without understanding the roots of the historic ongoing conflict. On one side, it should be noted that Our Latin America and Caribbean is a continent in permanent dispute. From the 18th century, long before hoisting their known doctrines of annexationist domination, the “founding fathers” of the United States of America had already warned that once their population had grown sufficiently, they would seize the dominions of the Spanish crown in Spanish America, one by one. Despite the North American country having fought for its independence against the British Empire, it never supported the processes of independence of Spanish colonies, which were similar to its own, at least in principle. Even from then, those in Washington did not want to see free peoples rise, they wanted to conquer the entire continent and exercise dominion over what they called the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, the Roosevelt Corollary, the Pan-American and Inter-American systems, coups d’états, invasions, interventions of all types, military bases, the false war on drugs, directly seizing territories and countless more: the objective has always been the same.
The imperialist-expansionist nature the United States would acquire was already being preconfigured when in 1829, Simón Bolívar, the geopolitical prophet, denounced that “the United States appears destined by providence to plague America with miseries in the name of liberty.” It is thus a question of the right of free peoples and nations to exists, versus accepting, with resignation, to be a simple domain of the U.S. empire, enslaved and at the services of the fluctuations of capital’s social control.
In the center of this dispute, which has known neither respite nor truce, is Venezuela. Our country, for geographic and geopolitical reasons, has great riches, and even more importantly, it has a rebellious, liberating, anti-imperialist people by origin and by definition. European conquistadores crossed South America several times in search of the famous “El Dorado.” Although they didn’t realize it for 4 centuries, the lands they desperately searched for are those that belong to the sacred territory of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Nevertheless, near the end of the 19th century, as the jaws of the U.S. empire were being developed, the appearance of oil and its uses attracted greed towards the country’s immense energy riches.
Every Venezuelan government that stuck its head out in the 20th century, even if it was no more than a flash of a sovereign policy relating to the oil industry’s profits, was destabilized and overthrown by the work and grace of the dominant corporate elite in Washington. Historic tension and contradiction became maximized when Hugo Chávez reached political power in 1999, this time thanks to the work and grace of the Venezuelan people, and we entered the 21st century with a policy of true and radical nationalization of industries linked to natural resources. The first years of this new phase of the historic dispute produced visceral rebellions of the national bourgeoisie, openly supported by Washington, that included the 2002 coup d’état and the sabotage of the oil industry, among many other chapters of this stage that is still in development. Imperialist actors have sought, by any means available to them, to overthrow and eliminate the Bolivarian Revolution, to retake political control of the country, so that the riches of Venezuelans can once again be used as tribute to benefit transnational capital.
Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution invested, for the first time, the nation’s great riches into the great needs of the people. Through what are called Social Missions, inexcusable social debts in health, housing, education, infrastructure, culture, nutrition, productive work, industrial production and others were addressed. U.S. governments, the main political face of global corporate empire, have intensified their obsessive determination to resolve this historic struggle in Venezuela in favor of capital. Every political, economic and social situation of the past years can be explained on the basis of the confrontation of models and the fight to retake or hold onto political power in Venezuela. Every situation has been a real chapter of this passionate book, in which a people are attacked in a thousand ways to force their surrender and hand over power, their power, to their historic exploiters.
Simplistic and reductionist analyses, based on manuals crafted in laboratories in Washington and broadcast with sensationalist and inhumane venom by major media outlets in the service of imperialism and the status quo, are useless. What is happening in Venezuela is not a democracy-dictatorship dilemma, nor is it a human rights issue, nor is it defined by the personalization between Nicolás Maduro versus the opposition bourgeois leader du jour anointed by the White House. It is a question, as was mentioned beforehand, of another chapter in the historic struggle between a people that is decided on being free and independent, against an empire determined to dominate it through national and global actors subjected to their interests. In understanding this premise, one can understand, through a scientific and realist approach, the dynamic events that are publicized through biased and skewed headlines in the West.
The Current Chapter in the Dispute
This chapter of the historic dispute was triggered in February 2018, when Washington gave direct orders to the Venezuelan opposition delegation to not to sign the comprehensive accord that was a product of a process of dialogue carried out for months in the Dominican Republic. We have lived with the consequences with since January of this year. An ongoing coup d’état, with the permanent threat of military invasion, in the middle of a savage and criminal financial and commercial blockade, for which the intellectual and material authors openly accept responsibility. The authorship of the crimes against Venezuela has been proudly claimed by members of the Trump administration: Donald Trump himself, Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams, Greg Faller, Marco Rubio; with the addition of a few Latin American “presidents” and governments, who in reality are nothing more than links subordinated to the White House’s chain of command and who attempt to have the region join this unconventional war.
Never before have spokespersons and high-level officials of any U.S. government so openly and publicly presented themselves as the leaders and promoters of a coup, a blockade and the threats of war against Venezuela. This contrasts with the traditional format of coups and processes of political destabilization in Latin America and the Caribbean, in which, although the CIA and U.S. governments have always been the intellectual authors and financiers, they maintained the formality of giving the media limelight to the military and political bourgeois elite of our countries, so as not to be so brazen.
Among the threats and warmongering declarations by Security Advisor John Bolton to seek to strangle the Venezuelan people, collapse the economy and instill regime change by force, it is worth highlighting the admission of the true objectives of this imperialist onslaught: once the change in government occurs, U.S. oil companies are already ready to enter Venezuela to produce. To complete the strategy, the Venezuelan bourgeoisie in the National Assembly, which never discusses any legislation in the service of the people, once against places itself in Washington’s camp in this permanent dispute, and devotes itself to discussing and approving laws to allow transnational businesses to exploit natural resources on their own, contravening the National Constitution; to purporting to have Venezuela reenter outdated mechanisms of military cooperation with the United States in order to facilitate an imperialist military intervention; and to their permanent requests to impose more restrictive measures, wrongly called sanctions, against the financial and industrial institutions of the Venezuelan state, restricting institutional capacity and facilitating the criminal blockade against the economy, against all of the Venezuelan people.
Although the comprehensive war against Venezuela is in full swing, imperialist aggression has been lurching and has gone from one stumble to another, from failure to failure, underestimating the Venezuelan people and their will to be independent and free. The Bolivarian Revolution is not a party or a circumstantial partisan coalition; it does not depend upon nor rely on any economic power or corporation; it is not a bureaucratic caste attached to power. The Revolution is a sociopolitical, cultural phenomenon that relies on the inexorable support of majorities traditionally excluded from decision making, and its roots extend to the deepest parts of the historic identity of the Venezuelan people. There is no empire, and there never will be, no matter how powerful, capable of erasing from the face of the earth, a social body and process so entrenched as Chavismo. Despite the perversity of the smear campaigns, despite the political hate they attempt to create, despite the resources they have allocated, despite the threats they have made, despite the blockade they have imposed, they are destined to fail.
The Dialogue to Generate Mechanisms for Conflict Management
Among Venezuelans, including the bourgeoisie and its representatives, regardless of the differences we may have, we must design and develop mechanisms for the management of this historic struggle, to reach agreements of coexistence and cohabitation and to advance in the regularization of this conflict for the control and destiny of the nation’s riches and the protagonism or invisibilization of the majorities. Agreements that, without ignoring the underlying differences and processes of struggle, protect the nation’s peace and independence, permanently removing military threats (whether external or internal) and imperialist attacks against our economy. Agreements that allow for the productive apparatus and system of social protection to work, without suffering from the consequences of the ambition of capital to control the fate of the country. For Venezuelans to be able to study, work and feel as though their social rights are guaranteed and democratized, without imposed tensions and situations that affect life in society.
It should be the people, freely, that decides, that elects, the path to follow, based on conditions of respect for our sovereignty. In all the electoral challenges to come, the bourgeoisie should present their neoliberal economic policy and privatizations without feeling ashamed. The people are the ones to evaluate and contrast it with the socialist project, without intervention, without imminent war, without campaigns of lies and distortion. As the Liberator said: “I have irrefragable proof of the perspicacity of the people in great affairs, and that is why I have always preferred their opinion to those of the wise.” While the Bolivarian Revolution is in power, the people will always have the first and last word in defining the path and fate of our society.
We have had processes of political dialogue with the opposition in 2014, 2016, 2017-2018 and now in 2019. These conversations have been maintained despite political violence, protagonist interference by Washington in recurrent conspiracies, and reactions by the State in the face of aggressions. For understanding to bear transcendent, real fruit, the parties should comprehend, and we must begin from, the ongoing, structural character of the referred to dispute, and we must contribute to the construction and protection of the necessary political mechanisms to achieve solid accords in the middle of our differences, which are sometimes irreconcilable. Those who wager on a simplistic, utilitarian dialogue for the benefits of the aggressors, or those who have interests in war, or in a process to remove a group from power or deny others access to it, once against err in the direction and the strategy, without considering the deep forces and radical contradictions that have defined political evolution and interaction in recent times.
It is not with a signature, a timely election or an instructional, partial accord that such determinant differences can be processed and a lasting peace can be guaranteed. The solution can include options and agreements such as those, but they neither define it nor restrict it. We should be capable of seeing beyond that. Of raising our conduct, of meeting the challenges of history and the future. We should engage in politics from concrete reality, from our ideological positions, but always having human development as the goal, the Bolivarian objective of the greatest happiness possible. The solution should lead us to an ongoing and flexible mechanism for managing this historic conflict that has marked us and will mark us for decades.
President Nicolás Maduro will never tire of walking the path of dialogue, not to try and overcome a circumstantial obstacle or a specific situation, but rather to expand the horizons of peace and prosperity through the establishment of stable channels and methods for social, political and economic dialogue with opposition parties, with the working class, with people’s power, with productive forces. Let us reach out to recognize each other, to understand each other and to respect each other in our differences and similarities. Let us not fear the contradictions that have been unleashed by events of our own making. Let us not ignore it, not underestimate it, not leave it to the side. Let us understand it with bravery and intelligence, and let us learn to manage, over the next decades, this constitutive conflict, this omnipresent dispute that has ruled us, with the wisdom and maturity demanded by the people of Venezuela, the peoples of Our America, the peoples who struggle, who resist and have the right to live in peace, in conditions of freedom and equality. That is to say, the right to overcome.
Jorge Arreaza M.