Many journalists and political leaders consider the Obama declaration to be a prelude to a military intervention of some kind, citing the precedents of Chile in the early 1970s, Nicaragua in the 1980s, and Iraq and Libya in recent years. The Cuban television journalist Oliver Zamora asks why such a declaration is being made at a time when preparations are under way for the Summit of the Americas in April, and when the United States has been seeking to improve its relations with Latin America through a new direction in its policy toward Cuba. Zamora concludes that the declaration reflects the domestic politics of the United States: Obama is seeking to placate a sector of the political right located in Miami with a move that to some extent compensates for the turn with respect to Cuba.
In conjunction with the policies and interventions of the Obama administration in the Middle East and North Africa, its illegal interference in the internal affairs of progressive governments in Latin America; and its limited change in policy with respect to Cuba; the declaration confirms the imperialist orientation of the Obama administration, and it provides yet more evidence of a Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Obama continuity in policies that fail to respect the sovereignty of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Venezuela is not a military threat to the United States, given the military capacity and political orientation of the South American nation. Moreover, Obama´s expression of concern for the human rights of the opposition in Venezuela is pure pretext. What is truly at stake here was not expressed in the declaration and could not possibly be expressed by US leaders: from the point of view of US imperialist interests, Venezuela is a problem, because the oil-rich nation has sought to be truly independent; and even worse, it has played an important role in leading the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean toward a quest for greater economic, political, ideological and cultural autonomy with respect to the United States.
It was Hugo Chávez who was the author of a new reality in Venezuela. A career military officer who was well-read in Latin American history and political philosophy as well as in the teachings of Mao, Chávez spent years forging a progressive wing in the Venezuelan military. He won the Venezuelan presidential elections in 1998 on a campaign promise of breaking with neocolonialism and neoliberalism. He proceeded immediately as president to establish a new constitution and to obtain control of the state-owned oil industry, which had been functioning as an autonomous state within the Venezuelan state, in service of the interests of international corporations. Effective control of the Venezuelan oil industry enabled the Chávez government to use oil revenue to develop social missions that have made significant improvements in health, education, housing, and standard of living for the majority. On the international plane, Chávez formulated a vision of Latin American unity and integration and South-South cooperation, putting it into practice, using oil as a friendly lever. Regional organizations, such as ALBA, PETROCARIBE, UNASUR, and CELAC, are his legacy. Having died of cancer in 2013, Chávez is a revered figure in Latin America today. Attacking the Chavist government of Nicolas Maduro is not the way for Obama to win friends in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Obama's experiences as a boy in Indonesia give him some insight into the neocolonial character of the world, as can be seen in his book, The Audacity of Hope, published in 2006. But as president, Obama has not grasped the significance of the Third World challenge to the neocolonial structures of the world-system; in which the nations and peoples of the Third World, led by the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Iran, are seeking a more just, democratic, and sustainable world-system. This unfolding Third World challenge is made evident by the declarations of the Non-Aligned Movement in recent years, a phenomenon that is beyond the horizon of US public discourse.
At the present historic moment, the United States does not need dysfunctional declarations made as concessions to the extreme right. The people of the United States need a political leadership capable of forging a new era of cooperation with the nations and peoples of the Third World in pursuit of a more just, democratic and sustainable world-system. Such an alternative political leadership must be lifted up by the people, who in an informed, creative and disciplined popular revolutionary movement cast aside those political leaders who have made their peace with this or that sector of the elite, who have promoted elite interests and have ignored the needs and interests of the people of the United States and the peoples of the world, and who invoke a rhetoric that distorts reality and confuses the people.