On The Side of Wrong

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On The Side of Wrong

Photo: Fair Observer

Photo: Fair Observer

Photo: Fair Observer

Photo: Fair Observer

Gabbi Bright, Manager

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To the capitalists who all-too-readily avoid critical thought,

Just kidding.  But in all seriousness, there needs to be a discussion about the state of American interventionism in Venezuela.  Yes, it’s true the country is in shambles. Poverty and crime are rampant and President Maduro may be responsible for a good deal of corruption.  To be clear, I’ve never been a fan of Maduro. He’s a slimy capitalist, may have been re-elected undemocratically, and appears to be a fan of coercive tactics, even toward his own citizens.  However, the way the United States is attempting to intervene is unjustified. And yes, it goes a little deeper than “American imperialism bad.”

First and most importantly, the “interim president,” Juan Guiadó, is not a good leader for the struggling Venezuela.  His status as “the most democratically popular candidate” is dubious at best. It’s difficult to say whether or not he even officially ran in the May 2018 presidential election.  Guiadó wasn’t on the radars of opposition pollsters a few months before the election. Henri Falcón, who had been threatened with economic sanctions by Trump for running, was the most popular contender in March 2018.  Pollsters suspect his win was taken by Maduro’s opposition boycotting and Javier Bertucci’s fringe voters, but Guiadó’s win has been suspect for months.

Beside this, it’s clear to see why Trump loves Guiadó specifically.  He’s a friend to right-wingers from all over the world and an active member of Trump and John Bolton’s “Iraq conflict” fanclub.  There’s a clear political interest in Guiadó’s presidential win.  The United States’ motivation for intervention is sketchy at best.  Just as the case in Nicaragua and El Salvador (the site of especially gruesome massacres), “humanitarian reasons” are the excuse.  While the American government directly supports and actively seeks to improve relationships with Saudi Arabia and Israel, the perpetrators of some of the worst current human rights abuses, our government still preaches a love of democracy and freedom for all people.  No, unfortunately, this has not (and will likely never be) America’s primary motivation. Where was this concern for Haiti, whose situation we directly worsened? Where is this concern where it is not economically or politically advantageous for our intervention? These are the biggest questions.  We’re shipping aid to Venezuela in an effort to exact regime change more favorable to our ideological and hydrocarbon-aligned pursuits. Even now, we still hold sanctions against Venezuela that make transporting aid more difficult. They, just as with every type of sanction, have historically restricted Venezuelans’ access to resources and wealth by squashing their greatest source of income: oil sales to the United States.  Like other sanction-affected countries, Venezuela’s economy is neither diversified nor developed enough to withstand such strictness; the majority of the income brought in by oil sales is spent on imported medicine and food. We’re punishing the perpetually struggling. In this way, the sanctions against Venezuela are as violent as direct action. If we were really serious about aid and preventing a humanitarian crisis, what are the sanctions for?

This is criticism is not only reflected by disgruntled Americans.  The international aid community wants very little to do with American intervention as well.  In fact, many third party aid providers have spoken out against the United States’ actions. Both the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations have outright refused to support the US in their pursuit.  Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the United Nations told a press briefing that, “Humanitarian action needs to be independent of political, military or any other objectives. The needs to the people should lead in terms of when and how humanitarian assistance is used.”  If this doesn’t ring any bells for you, I’m not sure what will. The United Nations themselves have been stingy with aid to Venezuela until recently. In November of last year (2018), they authorized humanitarian assistance to be given to Venezuela upon an appeal from Maduro himself.  This may not have been enough to support the entire struggling population of Venezuela, but there are other players (with far less political interest) in the game of humanitarian assistance.

If our motivations weren’t clear enough, those directly involved with this interaction with Venezuela are especially ghoulish.  Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, was directly involved with the slaughters in El Salvador and Nicaragua. He’s an expert on covert genocide.  Under his watch, America deployed planes filled with “humanitarian aid supplies” to the right wing, death squad-affiliated Contras in Nicaragua simply because they were anti-communist and supported American interests.  In 1981, ironically, while Abrams was Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under Reagan, he administered the training of the the anti-communist Atlacatl Battalion which went on to perpetuate mass murder and rape.  When questioned, Abrams dismissed these accusations, saying, “We found, for example, that the numbers, first of all, were not credible, because…our information was that there were only three hundred people in the canton.” Considering his political past and Trump’s obvious ambitions, it’s no wonder that Venezuelans may be hesitant to allow American aid to enter the country.  The adulteration of international aid has led to a general hostility toward aid in South America, even generally. It doesn’t help that John Bolton, our current US security advisor is an admirer of Abrams. We know he’s not afraid of boots-on-ground action either. (We haven’t forgotten about the “5,000 troops to Colombia” incident, John.) The melding of minds between these two swamp monsters doesn’t bode well for Venezuelans.

While I understand that Venezuela is in a desperate state, American intervention, even in the form of humanitarian aid, is a net negative.  As optimistic as I would like to be about our government’s morality, we have to face the facts: the United States’ interests in Venezuela are not pure.  I believe most normal (non-political) people who support American intervention are sincerely interested in the welfare of the Venezuelan people. In reality, we need to provide as much agency as possible to the people of Venezuela, absent of influence from foreign countries.  In this way, we have options. By supervising another democratic election with third-party, neutral agencies and allowing Venezuelan-driven movements to thrive (sans American influence), Venezuela can once again get back on its feet. Ultimately, it needs to govern itself. Outside intervention is inherently politically and economically influenced.  If Guaidó wins the next democratic election, I will be surprised, but not completely disheartened. What’s more important than American oil supplies is the Venezuelan peoples’ democratic agency and independence.

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Gabbi Bright, PR&RO

Gabbi Bright is a Maggie Walker junior serving as the Public Relations and Recruitment Officer for the Jabberwock.  Aside from writing as a hobby, she...

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