The targeting of Venezuela is a consequence of the leading role that it has played in forging Latin American union and integration and a new political reality in Latin America and the Caribbean, in which the nations of the region seek to defend their sovereignty and to develop alternatives to the structures of neocolonial domination. The process of change in Latin America can be dated to 1994, when Hugo Chávez was released from prison and was able to further develop the Fifth Republic Movement. After his election as president in 1998, Chávez led the nation in the development of a Constitutional Assembly and a new Constitution, and his government proceeded to take effective control of the national oil industry and to use revenue from oil to fund various social missions in defense of the needs of the people. At the same time, invoking the dreams of La Patria Grande of Simon Bolivar, he led a regional process that sought relations of solidarity and mutually beneficial trade among the nations of the region, and that sought to develop South-South cooperation, strengthening ties with China, Iran and South Africa. Building upon popular social movements in opposition to the neoliberal project imposed by the global powers, several Leftist and progressive governments emerged, and all of the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean began to cooperate in the alternative vision, culminating in the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Chávez died of cancer in 2014, and Nicolás Maduro subsequently was elected as the first Chavist president, in accordance with the procedures of the Constitution (see “Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela” as well as blog posts in the categories of “Venezuela” and “Latin American and Caribbean unity”).
The campaign against the government of Venezuela has had various components. Taking advantage of the dependence of the Venezuelan economy on the importation of necessities like food and medicine, export-import companies began to refuse to import or to horde necessary items, provoking shortages and price inflation, with the intention of producing popular discontent. The Right called for popular demonstrations, and it formed gangs dedicated to violence toward property and persons. At the same time, the privately-owned national news media attacked the government, and the international media portrayed the Venezuelan government as violating human rights. The overall plan was to create a humanitarian crisis and civil disorder, with the intention of justifying foreign intervention, thus toppling the Bolivarian Revolution from power.
The campaign began to have some success as a result of the dramatic drop in oil prices, thus reducing government revenues and its capacity to respond to the economic war. As a result, the opposition was able to win a strong majority in the parliamentary elections of December 2015, without offering a concrete program, but merely capitalizing on an emerging popular discontent. Once it captured control of the parliament, rather than offering an economic plan, the opposition focused on removing Nicolas Maduro from power, frequently ignoring the constitutional constraints on parliamentary power and not recognizing the constitutional authority of the executive and legislative powers. It sought to create a political crisis, in addition to difficulties emerging from the economic war and the oil price drop.
The participation of the Organization of America States in the campaign against the government of Venezuela is fully consistent with its function as an instrument of US neocolonial hegemony. Created in 1948, OAS was the culmination of US Pan-Americanist policy, through which the United States sought to create an Inter-American system that would enlist the support of the governments of the region in the US project of economic, financial and ideological penetration. During the first half of the twentieth century, the United States convened various Inter-American conferences, but its objectives were blocked by the resistance of Latin American governments. However, with the arrival of the United States to global hegemony following World War II, it was able to implement its Pan-Americanist vision of American integration under US political and economic direction, and OAS was born (see “Pan-Americanism and OAS” 10/2/2013).
Seeking to actively involve OAS in the Venezuela situation, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro sent to Juan José Arcuri, Argentinian Ambassador to OAS and President of the Permanent Council, a request for the convening of a special session of the Permanent Council, for the purposing of developing a diplomatic response to the Venezuelan situation. The request invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted by OAS in 2001. The Democratic Charter defines democracy in accordance with the Western concept of representative democracy and its limited notion of human rights; it ignores the concept of popular democracy that has emerged in socialist and Third World nations, which focuses on the development of popular assemblies, on the role of the state in protecting social and economic rights, and on the rights of all nations to sovereignty and non-interference in its affairs. The 114-page request by Almagro maintains that Venezuela is experiencing a multi-dimensional crisis, including shortages of medicine and food; and it maintains that Venezuela violates the political rights of the opposition. It describes the Venezuelan situation from the vantage point of the opposition, and it provides a curt four-page summary of the analysis presented by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez. The document concludes with eight recommendations that reflect the vantage point of the opposition.
The June 1 Special Session of the Permanent Council was a defeat for the Secretary General. The ambassadors indignantly denounced his inappropriate behavior, not only for the one-sided presentation, but also for the fact that the 114-page document was discussed secretly with some governments, but the majority of governments did not see it prior to the Special Session.
On June 2, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations declared that Venezuela had won a diplomatic battle in OAS. Making reference to the successful expulsion of socialist Cuba from the OAS in 1962, the Declaration observed that the Secretary General and the OAS bureaucrats forgot that we do not live in 1962, and that what occurred in the Special Session is new evidence that “Our America” has changed, even though OAS continues to be an irredeemable instrument of US domination over the Latin American and Caribbean peoples, and for this reason, Cuba will never return to the OAS.
On June 4, at the inaugural address of the Seventh Summit of the Association of Caribbean States in Havana, Cuban President Raúl Castro expressed his deep concern for “the unacceptable attempt of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States to apply the so-called Democratic Charter in order to intervene in the Internal Affairs of Venezuela.” He further observed that “the OAS, since its founding was, is and will be an instrument of imperialist domination, and that no reform will be able to change its nature nor its history. Therefore, Cuba never will return to OAS.”
As the world-system is increasingly characterized by a multifaceted structural crisis, the global powers are continually demonstrating that they have no solution. Their approach is to search for new strategies of economic and financial penetration, not only in violation of the rights of nations and persons, but also in violation of the established rules of the neocolonial world-system, which permit some economic and political space to the national bourgeoisie in order to ensure global political stability. As a regional manifestation of this phenomenon, the Latin American Right, in the three cases (Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil) in which it has partially and temporarily returned to power, has demonstrated that it has no constructive alternative to offer; it seeks merely to destabilize the progressive projects that have emerged in recent years. The Latin American Right risks that its temporary and partial power will be taken from it by the indignant people, increasingly able to discern that the project of the Right is to surrender the sovereignty of the nation to the international corporations and to the core governments that act in defense of corporate and financial interests.
Key words: Venezuela, OAS, Almagro, Maduro