The Trump administration set a deadline of February 23, 2019 for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to bow down to the US. US military aircraft have landed in Colombia under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid, as Trump vows to overthrow the government in Caracas. Venezuela scholar George Ciccariello-Maher and journalist Kim Ives discuss recent developments and examine the massive protests rocking Haiti’s US-backed president. Journalist Jon Schwarz details the bloody and murderous career of Elliott Abrams, the man now in charge of US-Venezuela operations. And journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous explains the failed revolution in Egypt and outlines US-backed Dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s plot to make himself president for life.
Where the hell did that come from? Trump is crazy. That’s the story. The Trump administration, with the backing of both the Republican and Democratic political establishments, is moving forward with its campaign for regime change in Venezuela. Trump has threatened, “Or you can choose the second path: continuing to support Maduro. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit, and no way out. You will lose everything.” This is simply an unbounded temerity which is irremissible!
The US military meanwhile has been landing planes on the Colombian border with Venezuela using the cover of so-called humanitarian aid shipments. And US political leaders continue to blatantly lie about the crisis in Venezuela. They are lying about Maduro’s government blocking a bridge. That bridge has never been functional. It has never been opened. It has never been in use. That is just pure propaganda. In fact, Josh Begley did a satellite imagery analysis of that bridge on the Venezuela-Colombia border that shows that the bridge has never been used from 2014 until now. No cars. No trucks. Nothing. There is a fully functioning bridge nearby, and that one remains open. But the US has not even bothered to apply for permission to cross that bridge. They are promoting the image of a bridge that has never been opened and then claiming it has evidence that Maduro is blocking aid. No.
The issue here is that the US is not actually attempting to aid the Venezuelan people. They are using their suffering as a prop in a campaign to overthrow the Maduro government. Also, the US declared the value of its so-called aid: It is not even equal to a couple of days’ worth of losses in oil revenue that the US sanctions have caused Venezuela. This is a cynical ploy to starve and harass Venezuelans into rising up against Maduro and this offering of crumbs to Venezuela, it is a psychological operation. It is a political maneuver. If the US really wanted to aid the Venezuelan people, they would lift the sanctions, they would coordinate with international aid agencies and the UN and the Maduro government to deliver goods. This is not about humanitarian aid. This is a provocation aimed at bolstering the coup government of Juan Guaidó. And Donald Trump and his aides are lying about the actual intent of this so-called aid. The United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, both of them have said this is not actually humanitarian aid because It is being politicized. And both have declined to participate in what amounts to a US propaganda stunt. Here is Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza speaking last week at the United Nations.
Jorge Arreaza has said, “The cost of this blockade is over US$30 billion and they are sending their so-called humanitarian aid for US$20 million. So, what is this? I am choking you. I am killing you and then I am giving you a cookie. So, that’s a show and they have said it.”
Let’s step back and just look at this simple fact: OK, Donald Trump declared his fake national emergency in order to try to push through his insane wall project. At the same time, the US is demanding that the president of Venezuela open his country’s border to a hostile foreign power that is actively attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Trump is constantly lying about the people who come across the US border and now, he is lying about the US efforts to illegally cross into Venezuela’s territory. Unlike Trump’s border walls in the US, he is being supported by Democrats in trying to violate the sovereignty of Venezuela. Trump gave a belligerent speech in Miami, filled with threats against the Maduro government.
The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day, and every day in the future. You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you. And by the way, let’s not forget that National Security Advisor John Bolton recently suggested that the US may consider sending Maduro to the Guantanamo prison camp. He has further added, “You know, I wish him a long quiet retirement on a pretty beach far from Venezuela. And the sooner he takes advantage of that, the sooner he’s likely to have a nice quiet retirement on a pretty beach rather than being in some other beach area like Guantanamo.” This is implacable!
Over the weekend, an extremely sweaty Senator Marco Rubio of Florida appeared on CNN from the Colombia border where the US military planes have been landing. And Marco Rubio had the audacity to say that the refusal of Maduro to participate in this US humanitarian aid stunt would constitute what Rubio called a “crime against humanity.”
This is not the end. Marco Rubio says to Maduro, we know if there is violence next week and people are harmed here, we know who is responsible for it and every single one of them will pay a price. They will face justice and they will spend, or they will spend the rest of their lives worried about justice catching up to them.
But we know clearly that American establishment has been committing crimes against humanity in country after countries for more than 7 decades.
We see, this is a classic US model that’s being applied right now to Venezuela. They interfere, destabilize, sanction, smear a country and its government. They unleash weapons of economic destruction. They deprive people of basic goods and dignity and then they overtly pretend that people of Venezuela or people across the world have nothing to do with it. They blame the government for the destruction. They demand that people rise up against their government. They demand they accept whatever puppet the US wants installed or else the misery and suffering will continue.
Just listen to the analysis of one of puppet leader Juan Guaidó’s advisors in the US, Ricardo Hausmann. He is a Venezuelan living in the US and is at the Harvard Center for International Development, the so-called Venezuela project of the Harvard Growth Lab. Hausmann has spent years attacking the initiatives of Hugo Chávez that were aimed at improving literacy and offering food subsidies and helping the poorest Venezuelans. At the same time, Hausmann has been advocating for more multinational corporations to divvy up Venezuela’s oil resources. He wants a neoliberal economic model to be reintroduced in Venezuela. In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Hausmann talked about the neoliberal institutions that he and Guaidó want to bring into Venezuela after they bring Maduro down.
For now, the Maduro government says it is not going to bow to US pressure. But the disdainful CIA, the Trump administration, powerful political figures from both parties in the United States, they are all pushing the propaganda. They are secretly meeting with members of Venezuela’s military, and there are allegations of weapons smuggling. It is all so very reminiscent of the 1980s and the dirty wars in Central America.
Now, instead of asking real questions and instead of holding the White House responsible, the Democrats have largely fallen in line behind Donald Trump. Venezuela’s foreign minister said that strategy and the attempt to install Juan Guaidó as president have failed.
There may be grievances against the Maduro government in Venezuela. People in Venezuela should have their right to choose their leaders respected without any outside interference — for Maduro or against him. But there is, in my view, no defensible case whatsoever that can be made that the United States government or the Trump administration should be the decider for the people of Venezuela. None. The media coverage of this crisis has been absolutely abominable. It has been one-sided. It has been lazy. And, at times, it has supported yet another disastrous path toward overthrowing a government that poses absolutely no threat to the people of the United States whatsoever. And that is why we are focusing on this part of the story, the US role. Because it is not being told almost anywhere in the US media. And as this regime change campaign continues to intensify, massive protests are continuing to rock Haiti.
“Trump should worry about the poor in his own country,” Maduro said this week. And Trump should stop meddling into the internal affairs of other sovereign and independent countries.