The U.S. government’s funding of right-wing, anti-labor forces in Venezuela is consistent with its long history of intervening in the affairs of Latin American and Caribbean countries. On the one hand, Washington’s aim is to bolster and fortify dependent regimes that support and protect multi-national corporations that inhumanly exploit workers in country after country. On the other hand, U.S. policy is to overtly and covertly spur the building of right-wing opposition groups to overthrow independent governments that seek to alleviate poverty conditions and legislate reforms and basic rights that promote the interest of the great majority of people.
Here is just a small number of examples of many interventions that have made for a very sordid record:
- U.S. imposed an embargo of Cuba in 1960, which it has enforced against the Cuban people ever since. In 1961 the U.S. government launched the Bay of Pigs military invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against elected Guatemala’s President Jacobo Arbenz on June 18–27, 1954, opening a period of bloody dictatorship.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Brazil’s elected President João Goulart on April 1, 1964, opening a period of bloody dictatorship. (New documents on this 50th anniversary published in Brazil this past month reveal a more direct U.S. involvement than was previously thought.)
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Chile’s elected President Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973, opening a period of bloody dictatorship under Pinochet, which included the arrest of 130,000, the torture of 29,000 and the killing of additional thousands.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Argentina’s elected President Isabel Perón on March 24, 1976, opening a period of bloody dictatorship.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Venezuela’s elected President Hugo Chávez on April 11, 2002—but this was a failed coup, as millions took to the streets to foil the coup-makers (who had already arrested Chávez) and reinstated Chávez.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Haiti‘s elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 28, 2004, opening a period of chaos and occupation by MINUSTAH troops.
- U.S. financed and backed coup against Honduras’s elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009—under Obama’s watch, attacking and reversing gains on land reform and other issues that had been made under Zelaya.
It is no wonder that Venezuela is in the cross hairs at this time. Below is a sample resolution we urge unions and community groups to adopt as a demonstration of solidarity.
Revised Sample Resolution:
No U.S. Intervention in Venezuela!
Whereas, the U.S. government, via the federal budget, has been funding political parties in Venezuela opposed to the Bolivarian government of Hugo Chávez and now of Nicolás Maduro to the tune of $90 million since 2000—with $5 million alone in the 2014 budget. (Source: The Guardian of London, February 18); and
Whereas, this millions of dollars in funding is being paid for by U.S. taxpayers and should instead be redirected to pay for jobs, infrastructure, education, unemployment compensation, food stamps and other urgently needed social programs at home; and
Whereas, this funding is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg, as numerous credible sources report hundreds of millions of dollars of covert support to the opposition forces in Venezuela over the past 15 years, including funding for the U.S.-backed coup attempt against Chávez on April 11, 2002; and
Whereas, on March 27, 2014, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson made the most threatening declaration to date by a top Obama administration official, stating that as far as Washington is concerned “all options—including imposing economic sanctions on Venezuela—are on the table if the Venezuelan government fails to make democratic room for the opposition”; and
Whereas, on February 16, 2014 the Mercosur governments (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela) released a statement on “the recent violent acts” in Venezuela and derided the “attempts [by the opposition] to destabilize the democratic order.” The governments stated “their firm commitment to the full observance of democratic institutions and, in this context, reject[ed] the criminal actions of violent groups that want to spread intolerance and hatred in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as a political tool”; and
Whereas, workers in Venezuela have made important gains under the Bolivarian regime initiated by Hugo Chávez—gains that are unacceptable to international finance capital—including national health care and Social Security for all, decent guaranteed pensions for all, strict labor laws to protect workers, and State control/ownership over the nation’s resources such as petroleum, iron, aluminum, electricity, and more; and
Whereas, the recent spread of vandalism and chaos by the opposition forces is aimed at destabilizing the government in an attempt to force Venezuela to turn back the clock and undo all the gains made by the workers and people of Venezuela through their struggles; and
Whereas, the Obama administration has never formally recognized the government of Nicolás Maduro, who was elected to office in April 2013 in elections considered legitimate and clean by all foreign observers and all governments the world over, with the exception of the United States; and
Whereas, working people in the United States have no interest in backing Washington‘s intervention and threats against the democratically elected government of Venezuela.
Therefore, be it resolved that the [name of labor or community organization] calls on the Obama administration to end all forms of overt and covert operations in Venezuela aimed at subverting the sovereignty of Venezuela, and therefore to end all U.S. funding of opposition political parties in Venezuela. The Venezuelan people should be left alone to determine their own destiny without any outside intervention, especially from Washington; and
Therefore, be it resolved that the [name of labor or community organization] calls on the Obama administration to formally recognize the legitimately elected government of Nicolás Maduro; and
Therefore, be it finally resolved that a copy of this resolution be sent to other labor and community organizations, as well as to President Barack Obama and designated members of Congress, as may be determined locally.