Inciting Unrest in Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
Last month, Duke University's Patrick Duddy published a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) paper
titled "Political Unrest in Venezuela."
From August 2007 - July 2010, he was Washington's Venezuelan ambassador. He represents imperial, not popular interests.
In September 2008, Venezuela declared him persona non grata. At issue were solidarity issues with Bolivia.
The State Department expelled its US ambassador Gustavo Guzman. It acted after Evo Morales banished Washington's ambassador Philip Goldberg. He did so for good reason. Goldberg "conspir(ed) against democracy" and encouraged internal disruptions.
In June 2009, Duddy's persona non grata status was rescinded. He returned as ambassador. He remained so for another year. He's a career Foreign Service official. He's held various Latin American posts. In all of them, he was up to no good.
His paper was provocative and perhaps suggestive of what's planned. America wants Chavez ousted. It's longstanding policy. It wants oligarch control restored and US regional influence strengthened.
Both countries have been without ambassadors since Duddy left. Obama nominated Larry Palmer to replace him. Following hostile comments he made at his Senate confirmation hearing, Chavez rejected him, saying:
"Obama, how do you expect me to accept this gentleman as ambassador? He disqualified himself. He cannot come as ambassador."
In response, Washington dispatched Venezuelan US ambassador Bernardo Alvarez Herrera.
Throughout most of his tenure since February 1999, Washington/Venezuelan relations remained tense, uneasy, and hostile. In May 2011, sanctions were imposed on state-owned oil company PDVSA. Companies elsewhere were also affected. At issue was doing business with Iran.
Under provisions of the July 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, PDVSA is barred from US government contracts, export financing, and export licenses for sensitive technology.
Oil sales weren't affected. Nor were operations of PDVSA's US CITGO subsidiary. America needs Venezuelan oil. Sanctions served only to highlight America's anti-Bolivarian hostility. Company operations weren't impeded.
Chavez believes disruptive tactics may precede and/or follow October 7 electoral results. Polls show he's overwhelmingly favored to win. Nothing short of coup d'etat tactics can stop him. Don't bet they're not planned.
According to Duddy, "Venezuela could experience significant political unrest and violence that lead to the further curtailment of democracy in the country."
He's right, but only if Washington instigates it. Maybe he knows something we don’t.
He claims opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski closely challenges Chavez. It's not even close, so why is he saying it? He and similar media propaganda may be prelude to planned trouble.
"(T)ensions are likely to rise….if (people suspect) Chavez has used extra-constitutional means to preclude or invalidate an opposition victory" to sustain his grip on power.
Venezuela's elections are closely monitored. Independent observers agree. The process is open, free and fair. It may be the best anywhere. It shames US electoral politics. Last month, Jimmy Carter said "the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world."
Duddy knows but suggested otherwise. His paper was propaganda, not analysis. He stressed protests are likely. They "could turn violent," he said. "Martial law" could be imposed. Democratic rights would be "further" curtailed. A "major political crisis" would erupt.
"Longstanding U.S. efforts to promote good governance in Latin America as well as cooperation on a range of political, economic, and security challenges in the region would be threatened as a consequence."
Washington abhors democratic values and "good governance" everywhere, notably at home. It wants regimes installed it controls.
It's been trying to oust Chavez for years. It can't bear the thought of him in power another six years. Anything may be planned to prevent it.
Chavez knows. Hopefully he's prepared. Post-election, Duddy suggested Washington may cry foul and demand legitimate restoration of good government. Economic and political ties may be suspended.
Every time an election or referendum was held, Chavez said their results would be respected. He didn't just say it. He meant and observed it. Duddy claimed Chavistas may cause trouble if Capriles wins. Chances, of course, are virtually nil.
Nonetheless, Duddy suggested "plausible" violence provoking scenarios:
It could erupt pre-election if Capriles looks likely to win or final results show it.
Chavez "plausibly" claims victory, then dies or leaves office for health reasons.
Capriles wins and is inaugurated. PDVSA oil workers walk out. Chavistas throughout the country resist pro-business initiatives and/or jettisoning "moribund Chavista projects."
Final results are too close to call or "unacceptable to the government."
A state of emergency could be imposed. It could last 90 days and be renewed. "The great unanswered question is how the government will react if it appears Chavez has lost. Unrest and violence" might follow.
Civil liberties could be suspended. Electoral results might be invalidated. "A preemptive move by the military" can't be ruled out.
Provocations are possible. Violence surges. "Basic food items disappear." Corporate media are closed "and/or prominent journalists are detained." Duddy called them "independent" ones "critical of the government."
Perhaps internal "Chavismo" divisions will erupt. Maybe a "senior political" official or Capriles figure is assassinated.
What if gasoline supplies are interrupted? Riots might follow.
Expect none of the above unless instigated by outside agitators and/or internal ones enlisted to serve Washington and oligarch interests.
Duddy claims political instability and violence "would damage US efforts to promote democracy, increase regional cooperation, combat narcotics, and protect its economic interests in the region."
Washington wants unchallenged control. It spurns democracy. It doesn't cooperate. It demands acquiescence. It facilitates drugs trafficking. The CIA has been involved for decades. Major US banks launder billions of dollars regularly.
Chavez's governing style is "authoritarian," claims Duddy. He's "undermining important political institutions, giving more powers to the presidency, and weakening both civil society and the independent media."
Venezuela is a model social democracy. Washington wants it destroyed. It wants neoliberal harshness replacing it. It wants Venezuelans deprived like most Americans.
Duddy also cites Cuban and Iranian influence. He doesn't know when to quit. He claims members of Chavez's government and military officials cooperate with terrorists. They also "facilitat(e) drug shipments…."
Venezuelan instability harms US companies doing business there, he said. America relies on regular oil shipments. Duddy discussed diplomatic, financial and military options.
Suggesting the latter especially shows hostile intent. At the same time, he said going that route "appears inappropriate." Don't rule it out. It's generally the last option when other methods fail. Sometimes it's top choice.
Duddy falsely claimed Washington "never unilaterally intervened militarily in a South American internal conflict…" Including Central America, it meddled repeatedly in the internal affairs of many countries since the 19th century.
Post-WW II alone, it ousted Guatemala's democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz. In the 1980s, Contra wars raged in Nicaragua. It aided dictatorships in Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras.
It helped oust Chile's popular leader Salvador Allende. Over 15 brutal August Pinochet years followed. It deposed Jean-Bertrand Aristide twice.
It worked with an array of Mexican despots, Fujimori and others like him in Peru, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, and other death squad rulers in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Honduras, El Salvador and elsewhere in the region.
Perhaps Duddy needs instruction in regional history. His mandate is dominance, not democracy and regional cooperation. He wants Chavez replaced by anyone prioritizing business interests over popular ones. All options are acceptable. Violent destabilization may be planned.
When Chavez wins impressively, expect fraud charges to follow. Pre-planned street demonstrations may turn violent. On October 1, Venezuela Analysis
headlined "Opposition Discusses 'Plans' With Foreign Diplomats," saying:
Investigative journalist Jose Vicente Rangel "warned of back room opposition attempts to prevent another (Chavez) win…" He cited private meetings attended by opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) members.
He warned about inflated scoundrel media expectations for Capriles winning on Sunday. MUD strategists plan violence. Their "Rapid Reaction Plan" explains it. Chavez campaign coordinator Jorge Rodriguez revealed it.
On September 23, Rangel warned on national television about "suspicious opposition positioning in the final weeks of the" campaign.
He mentioned a September 12 meeting. Opposition members attended. They tried convincing foreign diplomats that "Capriles is set to win…."
During discussions, "total lack of confidence in the National Elections Council (CNE)" was expressed. Preparations are set "to take to the streets, using both motorcyclists and civilian groups to combat the Chavistas."
Opposition dailies El Universal and Noticias 24 reported the meeting. They suppressed its real intent.
Sumate represents reactionary right-wing interests. Washington generously funds it. In May 2005, its co-founder, Maria Corina Machado, met George Bush in the White House Oval Office. It's believed its former director Alejandro Plaz prepared the "Rapid Reaction Plan."
It involves seizing strategic sites. They include "national and regional freeways, major avenues, emblematic plazas, Governors’ and Mayors’ offices, (key) non-civilian points - meaning military installations - news media offices, ports, and airports."
It has all the elements of a planned coup. Desperation appears to be driving policy. Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges' email was made public. He said "the majority of people are with (Chavez), and this is something that can't be denied."
Borges is National Coordinator for Capriles' Primero Justicia (PJ) party. He admitted defeat. It's baked in the cake and certain.
Opposition elements plan confronting popular sentiment. Expect it turning out no more successfully now than earlier. People power supports Chavez for good reason. Pre or post-electoral violence won't change things. Venezuelans have final say. They're not shy about expressing it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.