Venezuela recovers from power outage, but imperialist threats continue
People walk past darken store fronts in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, March 8, 2019. Much of Venezuela was still without electricity Friday amid the country’s worst-ever power outage, raising tensions in a country already on edge from ongoing political turmoil. President Nicolas Maduro ordered schools and all government entities closed and told businesses not to open to facilitate work crews trying to restore power. | Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Venezuela has now substantially recovered from the week long power outage that started on Thursday March 7 and kept millions in the dark for nearly a week.  However, U.S. government attacks on Venezuela continue unabated, with the evident long term goal being to enable U.S. based petroleum companies to take control of the countries petroleum reserves, the largest in the world.

Trump administration figures, including Vice President Pence  Secretary of State Pompeo, and special Venezuela point man Elliot Abrams continue to make bloodcurdling threats against the South American nation of 32 million people.

War is still being hinted at as the United States has withdrawn all its diplomatic personnel, while the United States and its allies do all the damage they can to the Venezuelan economy through illegal sanctions and the seizure of Venezuela’s state assets.

It has been difficult to organize against Trump’s “regime change” policy for Venezuela.  The Republican Party and the right in the United States are enthusiastically backing the policy and the imposition of Mr. Guaidó as president, as are right wing governments in Latin America and the old colonial powers of Europe.  Most countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, take the opposite view, defending Venezuela’s national sovereignty.   The two most populous countries in the world, China and India, such as other important states, including Russia and South Africa, also continue to support Maduro as the legitimate president.

But a special problem in the United States has been that not only the Republicans, but top leaders of the Democratic Party have been supporting Trump’s regime change agenda.  The corporate owned press and media, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and others have been going overboard to retail every anti-Venezuela trope, in the process completely ignoring the impact of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela in causing that country’s present economic and political difficulties.  This gives the Trump administration political cover to carry out a very dangerous and inhumane policy that could lead to both civil war and outside military intervention in Venezuela.

But now perhaps a little light is beginning to penetrate the fog of misinformation, and some voices are being raised within the Democratic Party against the regime change plans.

On February 23, two trucks, supposedly filled with “humanitarian aid,” were burned on the Colombia side of the Colombia-Venezuela border.  The Venezuelan opposition and the Trump administration immediately claimed that this act had been done by the Maduro government, and most of the media in the United States went along with that story.  But last weekend the New York Times was forced to admit, on the basis of video footage taken at the time, that in fact the trucks were not burned by Maduro supporters, but by opposition supporters who set them alight with Molotov cocktails, no doubt to discredit the Maduro government.

Then on  March 14, CNN had to admit that a drone attack on President Maduro last August 4 was not, as many anti-Maduro people, including Guaidó, had claimed,  a government false flag operation.  Reporters interviewed the mastermind of the attack, who indicated that not only was it indeed aimed at killing President Maduro, but that his group was in touch with U.S. officials after the fact.

One of the leading figures in the anti-Venezuela campaign in the U.S. Congress is Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida).  He was caught out peddling laughably false anti-Maduro information, not only about the burning aid trucks, but about the supposed destruction of a “German dam” in Venezuela having been a factor in the power outage.  On March 9, Rubio was corrected by the reporter German Dam who had written about the incident, and who assured Rubio that he was a human and not a Teutonic  water retainer.

But there are signs of resistance to the official narrative on Venezuela. There will be a “Hands off Venezuela” protest in Washington DC on March 16, organized by a large number of U.S. peace and social justice organizations.

There is legislation in the House of Representatives which calls for no military intervention in Venezuela without Congressional Authorization.  The bill, HR 1004, ”Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act, was introduced by Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and has 54 cosponsors to date—52 Democrats and two Republicans.  Its scope is limited to forbidding the Trump administration from intervening militarily in Venezuela without congressional authorization, and it says nothing about the sanctions.  Nevertheless, Mark Weisbrot co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research in Washington D.C. and a trenchant critic of U.S. Venezuela policy, strongly urges support for HR 1004, for example by asking other members of Congress to become co-sponsors.

Also, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-California) has circulated an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, opposing the U.S. regime change policy, denouncing the Trump administration’s “unilateral measures and threats, and calling on the U.S. government to support a “peaceful political solution” including mediation efforts offered by the Pope and the governments of Mexico and Uruguay.   The letter has fifteen co-signers, including Democratic representatives, all from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

One of the clearest statements of opposition to the attacks on Venezuela came from a resolution passed at the February 27 meeting of the San Francisco (California) Democratic County Central Committee.   Under the title “Resolution Opposing U.S. Military Intervention in Venezuela” , the measure goes much further than simply opposing direct U.S. military intervention, and states forthrightly:

“WHEREAS, the United States government has a long, ignominious and disastrous history in intervening in the affairs of other nations, particularly in the Americas, by military, economic and other means; and

WHEREAS, the national interest requires the increased use of our national wealth and resources for domestic purposes rather than their diversion toward increased military adventures abroad; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee recognizes that it is the sole right of the Venezuelan people to determine their own destiny and therefore opposes any military intervention in Venezuela along with all covert interference in that nation’s affairs, the use of economic sanctions and assets seizures designed to further immiserate its people, and all further measures designed to impose a so-called “regime change” from Washington; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee calls upon our elected representatives in Congress to vigorously oppose such policies.”

What distinguishes this resolution from other statements by elected officials is that it cites the long history of U.S. interventions and that it also sharply denounces the sanctions and the seizure of Venezuela’s assets, without diluting its impact by also attacking Maduro’s government.

Perhaps this will serve as an inspiration and model for other public bodies to speak out on the Venezuela issue – before it’s too late.


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.