|President Hugo Chavez
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The 20th century saw many US interventions throughout Latin America. In 1948 the administration of President Harry Truman supported a military coup in Venezuela led by Marcos Perez Jimenez which ousted then President Romulo Gallegos – Venezuela's first democratically elected leader. From the 1950s onward various US administrations were involved in campaigns to rid Latin America of nationalist and populist leaders, especially those who did not embrace the economic policies championed by the US.
In 1992 future Venezuelan president Colonel Hugo Chavez attempted to overthrow the government, but failed and was jailed for two years. Following his release from jail and after a series of government failures in the mid-1990s Chavez was elected president in 1998.
When George W. Bush came into office in 2001, US relations with Venezuela became increasingly tense. The US government saw the leader and his ideology as a threat to US hegemony in the region, and to US access to Venezuelan oil - one of its top five suppliers. US-Venezuelan relations deteriorated further after an attempted coup in 2002, which Caracas accused Washington of supporting. Since then, the US has stayed involved in Venezuelan affairs by funding opposition parties and distributing anti-Chavez propaganda. However, two reelection victories for Chavez have affirmed his legitimacy as leader of the country.
Following the 2006 presidential elections, the Venezuelan National Assembly – controlled by Chavez supporters – gave the leader, at his request, the power to rule by decree for a period of 18 months – in effect suspending democratic processes in the country. As Chavez continues to consolidate power and nationalize key industries, tensions with Washington may increase. The articles and papers on this page contain information on the continued threat of US intervention in Venezuela.
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US foreign policy toward Venezuela has attempted to remove President Hugo Chavez from office, reverse the nationalization of big business, and turn the country back into a "client-state." Washington has established a powerful military presence surrounding the country, with troops and equipment across Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean. This author suggests that the White House's militarization of Latin America is part of a global policy of armed confrontation and unlawful intervention. The White House has chosen a military route because the US has lost most of the economic leverage it once had at its disposal. . (Countercurrents.org)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has signed another arms deal with Russia after Venezuela purchased military equipment worth US$ 3 billion from Moscow in 2006. Chavez says only a strong military "can stop the imperia (the US), which threatens our democracy." According to the article's author, it is clear that Venezuela is trying to change the balance of power in Latin America. (Power and Internet News Report)
This Common Dreams article argues that the recent hubbub about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's refusal to renew the license for the conservative television network, RCTV, is unwarranted and based on distorted US media coverage. The coverage fails to report that RCTV has falsified much of its news and played a leading role in the 2002 coup against Chavez's democratically elected administration. Chavez's decision to shut down the network is highly controversial, but there are still many other opposition news sources operating in Venezuela.
This Venezuelanalysis article highlights the covert methods employed by the US government to topple regimes unfavorable to Washington. The author argues that this strategy – which includes funding opposition parties and organizations, opposed to the regime in power – has already been used successfully in Yugoslavia to oust former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic from power. The article concludes that these methods are currently being used in Venezuela to undermine Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
This Venezuelanalysis article highlights recent claims by the Venezuelan government that the US Central Intelligence Agency is working with opposition leaders in the country – including former General Ramon Guillen Davila – to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The author argues that these claims are credible as the US has a history of providing assistance and training to individuals who oppose Latin America's "leftist" leaders. One such "tentacle of the US Empire" is the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation – which General Guillen attended – that trains Latin American forces in counterinsurgency techniques aimed at toppling "leftist" governments.
This International Herald Tribune article highlights the decision by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to nationalize several of the country's oil fields – many of which are owned by US companies – ultimately making less oil available for export to the US. The author argues that Chavez's decision is politically motivated as he seeks to "limit US influence around the world" starting in Venezuela's oil fields.
This International Affairs Forum piece argues that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does not threaten Latin America's stability as the Bush administration and other critics of his government have claimed. The author asserts that by providing financial assistance to countries in the region, Chavez is helping to strengthen democracy, not undermine it.
This New York Times article highlights the visit by US President George W. Bush to a number of Latin American countries in an attempt to counter the widespread popularity of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The author argues that Bush administration officials hope to counteract the growing influence of Chavez's oil-funded socialist programs by signing an ethanol agreement with Brasilia to increase overall ethanol production in the region.
This ZNet article argues that with the December 2006 election, the Venezuelan population gave President Hugo Chavez a mandate to "build a socialist society." The author argues that in their criticisms of Chavez, Bush administration officials as well as mainstream US media outlets often ignore the support he has among Venezuelan citizens to present an alternative to the "neoliberal" economic order espoused by Washington.
In response to comments made by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "destroying Venezuela economically and politically," the leader warned that Washington has adopted an economic plan for Venezuela. However, this Venezuelanalysis article cites figures from the Central Bank of Venezuela, which put annual growth in 2006 at 10.2 percent. Additionally, the author cites the results of a poll conducted by Chilean NGO Latinobarometro, which found that the majority of Venezuelans are happy with their democracy.
This Venezuelanalysis article reports on the decision by US President George W. Bush authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to "pay more attention" to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In a briefing held by the US House of Representatives Committee on Intelligence, former National Intelligence Director John Negroponte stated that in the Western Hemisphere Venezuela is the second highest priority for the intelligence agency following Cuba.
This Other News article details the steps taken by US-funded agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to orchestrate "democratic" coups d'etat such as those in Ukraine and Georgia. The first step focuses on building up popular support for an opposition candidate; the second uses the mass media to create the perception the elections were fraudulent; the last step requires the mobilization of people disenchanted with such "fraud." The author concludes that the US has successfully completed the first two steps in Venezuela, but due to the overwhelming popularity of the US-opposed candidate, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the last step might prove difficult to execute.
The majority of Venezuelans support President Hugo Chavez, but despite his widespread popularity Chavez faces a variety of US-supported obstacles in his bid for reelection in December 2006, this ZNet article claims. The US has actively funded opposition candidates, specifically governor Manuel Rosales of the "oil rich" Zulia province. The US Agency for International Development and the US National Endowment for Democracy have admitted spending at least US$26 million on the Venezuelan election. The article speculates that the US might have covert plans to launch an insurgency attack in Venezuela aimed at destabilizing the government.
This Foreign Policy In Focus article claims that the strained relationship between the US and Venezuela revolves around the latter's vast oil reserves. The Bush administration views Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's attempts to strengthen ties with China and Chile - to expand the market for the country's oil - as a substantial threat to US energy security. In response to this danger, the Bush administration has appointed a special intelligence gathering force on Venezuela, similar to the one set up for Iraq prior to the 2003 US-led invasion. Additionally, the US funds Chavez opposition groups in an attempt to get a US friendly president elected. However, this article argues that these efforts might prove futile due to Chavez's widespread popularity in Latin America.
US interference in Venezuelan affairs continues through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which actively funds "pro-democracy" organizations in the country. The initiative stems from inflated US concerns that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has the potential to "destabilize" Latin America with his anti-American rhetoric and socialist ideology. (Guardian)
Since the 1999 election of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Colombia-based paramilitaries have launched guerilla attacks moving from the borders to direct confrontations with the Venezuelan military near the capital, Caracas. Many of these paramilitaries collaborate with Plan Colombia, a US-funded program originally intended to curb drug-production in the country. This revelation has heightened fears in Venezuela that the Bush administration uses Colombia to indirectly intervene and "destabilize" the country. (Green Left Weekly)
New York University Professor Greg Gandin argues that past US interventions in Latin America shaped the Bush administration's model of intervention in the Middle East. US interventions in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1970s and 80s taught US officials how to manipulate US media and push through destructive neoliberal policies on countries, Gandin says. (Mother Jones)
This Venezuelanalysis article reports on false allegations published in a Venezuelan newspaper that claim Caracas entered into a secret agreement with Tehran whereby the latter would sell nuclear technologies to both Cuba and Venezuela. The author argues that the allegations – most likely started by a former US law enforcement officer – were designed to cause confusion among the Venezuelan people.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plan to join their "political forces" to counterbalance the "robust" power of the US. Both leaders criticize Washington for accepting Pakistan's nuclear status while opposing Iran's nuclear enrichment program. Accusing the Bush administration of "hypocrisy," they argue that the world superpower's actions contradict its claims of spreading "democracy." (Christian Science Monitor)
In countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina, the general public view Washington's involvement in their internal affairs as "the story of a government behind the government." For ordinary citizens in those countries, the popularity of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the growth of a continent-wide social movement represent a rejection of the "US-backed business tyrannies." This New Statesman
article argues that Chavez, who calls the Bush administration "a source of terrorism," could be the target of the next US attack.
This Washington Post article reveals that a US Department of Defense document identifies Venezuela as a "rogue nation," and that the Pentagon is preparing for "potential military conflict" with it. The document also argues that Venezuela, due to its proximity to the US, can become a "homeland security threat," and therefore requires "priority" in strategy-planning. This article, however, questions the credibility of these justifications and wonders whether Venezuela's oil resources, anti-capitalist policies and criticism of Washington plays a role in the Pentagon's policy.
In this interview, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez comments on the 2002 attempted coup against him, which was allegedly planned by the Bush administration. Chávez also criticizes the US war in Iraq, arguing that Washington "violated international law" and pursued a war for oil. (AlterNet)
Washington carries out a program of electoral intervention in Venezuela to remove President Hugo Chávez Frías from power. Under the Bush administration's policy to "promote democracy," three agencies, the State Department, the Agency for International Development (AID), and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), provide money, training and counsel to Venezuelan political opposition for the 2005 and 2006 elections. This article warns that the US intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s might serve as a model for intervention in Venezuela. (Venezuelanalysis)
In a piece which puts much of the blame on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Washington Post explores the increasingly sour relationship between the US and Venezuela. To many in Latin America, Chavez represents independence and social justice, a champion of the oppressed and subjugated. To the Bush administration, he is a dangerous and confrontational opponent of economic liberalism who controls an important 1.5 million barrels of oil a day for US markets. Chavez has created an increasingly bold Venezuelan foreign policy, signaling his resistance of "US imperialism" and his anger at the US for allegedly supporting the coup that tried to overthrow him in 2002.
This Center for Research on Globalization article argues that Washington "has other motives" for allocating $7.5 billion to Plan Colombia, a project aimed at reducing the drug trade in the country. Colombia exports most of its oil to the US and it also serves as a buffer zone for Washington against the growing left-wing governments on the continent, mainly Venezuela and Ecuador. The article questions whether the buildup of US military spending and training in oil rich parts of the country actually targets narcotics activity, or serves as a pretext to increase Washington's presence in Latin America and benefit US oil companies.
As Latin America drifts increasingly leftward, Southcom, the US military command responsible for the region, has released a strategic plan demanding "U.S. military involvement in the internal affairs of what it calls its partner nations" says Inter Press Service. Southcom's declassified "Theatre Command Strategy" frames its highly intrusive operating principles as part of the "war on terror." With greater scrutiny, the plan more closely resembles a panic-inspired attempt to reassert US hegemony in its backyard.
The People's Weekly World Newspaper argues that the Bush administration is orchestrating a media campaign to discredit Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "Over a two-year period, five prestigious US newspapers printed 184 negative articles about the Chavez government versus 35 friendly ones." The campaign "eerily echoes much of what preceded the invasion of Iraq," says the article.
The US exerts its political influence in Venezuela through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), by vigorously funding the opposition to President Hugo Chavez. The Endowment has granted significant funding to the organization Súmate, which the Venezuelan Attorney General accuses of illicit activities such as utilizing functions of the Electoral Power and soliciting international intervention. (VHeadline.com)
The International Republican Institute (IRI), a US government-financed organization which calls itself "nonpartisan," aims at "democratization" overseas. This article explains how the IRI organizes political training sessions for opposition movements in countries where the governments' policies do not coincide with Washington's interests, such as in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cambodia. (Mother Jones)
Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed US concerns about Cuba "training terrorists" and Venezuela hosting a "large Cuban presence." This article considers the US call for "regime change" in the countries eerily reminiscent of US pressure on Iraq before its invasion. (Jamaica Observer)
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), funded by the US government, finances groups in Venezuela that attempted to overthrow President Hugo Chavez in 2002. The NED's self-described mission is "to strengthen democratic institutions around the world," but it continues to support the Venezuelan business elite against Chavez and aims to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential recall referendum. (Progressive Trail)
As former US president Jimmy Carter embarks on a mission as "neutral observer" of Venezuela's presidential referendum, Counterpunch presents this surprising portrait of the man. The author charges that contrary to Carter's reputation as champion of human rights and democracy, he has "deliberately and systematically worked over the past quarter of a century to undermine progressive regimes and candidates" and promote their pro-US opponents. (Counterpunch)
Once again the US government seeks regime change in an oil-rich country. This article looks critically at US involvement in Venezuela and argues that the US media distorts information in favor of the Venezuelan opposition. (International Herald Tribune)
Since 9/11 US policy towards Latin America has narrowly focused on fighting the "axis of evil" of the region: Colombian "narcoterrorists," Cuba's Fidel Castro, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. (Foreign Policy in Focus)