[News] The Troika of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project in Latin America & Its Epigones
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Tue Nov 6 11:48:48 EST 2018
The Troika of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project in Latin America & Its
By Roger Harris - November 5, 2018
Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are today threatened by US imperialism.
The first salvo of the modern Age of Imperialism started back in 1898
when the US seized Cuba along with Puerto Rico and the Philippines in
the Spanish-American War.
The Age of Imperialism, as Lenin observed, is characterized by the
competition of the various imperial powers for dominance. That
inter-imperialist rivalry led to World War I. Lenin called those
putative socialists who supported their own national imperialist
projects “social imperialists.” Social imperialism is a tendency that is
socialist in name and imperialist in deed. Imperialism and its social
imperialist minions are still with us today.
*US Emerges as the World’s Hegemon*
The United States emerged after World War II as the leading imperialist
power. With the implosion of the Socialist Bloc around 1991, US hegemony
became even more consolidated. Today the US is the undisputed world’s
Hegemony means to rule but even more so to dominate. As the world’s
hegemon, the US will not tolerate neutral parties, let alone hostile
ones. As articulated in the Bush Doctrine, the US will try to asphyxiate
any nascent counter-hegemonic project, no matter how insignificant.
In the Caribbean, for instance, the US snuffed out the leftist
government of Grenada in 1983 in what was code named Operation Urgent
Fury. Grenada has a population smaller than Vacaville, California.
The only powers that the world’s hegemon will tolerate are junior
partners such as Colombia in Latin America. The junior partner must
accept a neoliberal economic regime designed to serve the interests of
capital. Structural adjustment of the economy is demanded such that the
neoliberal “reforms” become irreversible; so that you can’t put the
toothpaste back in the tube.
Colombia recently joined NATO, putting that junior partner’s military
under direct interaction with the Pentagon bypassing its civilian
government. The US has seven military bases in Colombia in order to
project – in the words of the US government – “full spectrum” military
dominance in the Latin American theatre.
Needless-to-say, no Colombian military bases are in the US. Nor does any
other country have military bases on US soil. The world’s hegemon has
some 1000 foreign military bases. Even the most sycophantic of the US’s
junior partners, Great Britain, is militarily occupied by 10,000 US troops.
The US is clear on its enemies list. On November 1, US National Security
Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Miami, labelled Venezuela, Nicaragua,
and Cuba the “troika of tyranny.” He described a “triangle of terror
stretching from Havana to Caracas to Managua.”
Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are targeted by US imperialism because
they pose what might be called the “threat of a good example;” that is,
an alternative to the neoliberal world order. These countries are
suffering attacks from the imperialists because of the things they have
done right, not for their flaws. They are attempting to make a more
inclusive society for women people of color, and the poor; to have a
state that, instead of serving the rich and powerful, has a special
option for working people, because these are the people most in need of
*Sanctions: The Economic War against Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba*
The US imperialist rhetoric is backed with action. In 2015, US President
Obama declared Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US security” and
imposed sanctions. These sanctions have been extended and deepened by
the Trump administration. The US has likewise subjected Cuba to
sanctions in a seamless bipartisan policy of both Republicans and
Democrats for over half a century. Now the US is the process of imposing
sanctions on Nicaragua.
Unilateral sanctions, such as those imposed by the US, are illegal under
the charters of both the UN and the Organization of American States,
because they are a form of collective punishment targeting the people.
The US sanctions are designed to make life so miserable for the masses
of people that they will reject their democratically elected government.
Yet in Venezuela, those most adversely affected by the sanctions are the
most militantly in support of their President Nicolás Maduro.
Consequently, the Trump administration is also floating the option of
military intervention against Venezuela. The recently elected rightwing
leaders Bolsonaro in Brazil and Duque in Colombia, representing the two
powerful states on the western and southern borders of Venezuela, are
colluding with the hegemon of the north.
The inside-the-beltway human rights organizations, such as Human Rights
Watch, fail to condemn these illegal and immoral sanctions. They lament
the human suffering caused by the sanctions, all the while supporting
the imposition of the sanctions. Nor do they raise their voices against
military intervention, perhaps the gravest of all crimes against humanity.
Liberal establishments such as the advocacy group Washington Office on
Latin America (WOLA) try to distinguish themselves from hard-line
imperialists by opposing a military invasion in Venezuela while calling
for yet more effective and punishing sanctions. In effect, they play the
role of the good cop, providing a liberal cover for interference in the
internal affairs of Latin American nations.
These billionaire-funded NGOs have a revolving-door staffing arrangement
with the US government. So it is not surprising that they will reflect
Washington’s foreign policies initiatives. But why do some organizations
claiming to be leftist so unerringly echo the imperialists, taking such
umbrage over Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua while ignoring far greater
problems in, say, Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras, which are US client
*Most Progressive Country in Central America Targeted*
Let’s take Nicaragua. A year ago, the polling organization
Latinobarómetro, found the approval rating of Nicaraguans for their
democracy to be the highest in Central America and second highest in
Daniel Ortega had won the Nicaraguan presidency in 2006 with a 38%
plurality, in 2011 with 63%, and 72.5% in 2016. The Organization of
American States officially observed and certified the vote. Polls
indicated Ortega was perhaps the most popular head of state in the
entire western hemisphere. As longtime Nicaraguan solidarity activist
Chuck Kaufman noted, “Dictators don’t win fair elections by growing
Nicaragua is a member of the anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance for
the Peoples of Our America with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and some
Caribbean states. Speaking at the UN, the Nicaraguan foreign minister
had the temerity to catalogue the many transgressions of what Martin
Luther King called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” and
express Nicaragua’s opposition.
These are reasons enough for a progressive alternative such as Nicaragua
to curry the enmity of the US. The enigma is why those claiming to be
leftists would target a country that had:
– Second highest economic growth rates and the most stable economy in
– Only country in the region producing 90% of the food it consumes.
– Poverty and extreme poverty halved; country with the greatest
reduction of extreme poverty.
– Reached the UN Millennium Development Goal of cutting malnutrition by
– Nicaraguans enjoyed free basic healthcare and education.
– Illiteracy had been virtually eliminated, down from 36% in 2006 when
Ortega took office.
– Average economic growth of 5.2% for the past 5 years (IMF and the
– Safest country in Central America (UN Development Program) with one of
the lowest crime rates in Latin America.
– Highest level of gender equality in the Americas (World Economic Forum
Global Gender Gap Report 2017).
– Did not contribute to the migrant exodus to the US, unlike neighboring
Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
– Unlike its neighbors, kept out the drug cartels and pioneered
In April of this year, all of this was threatened. The US had poured
millions of dollars into “democracy promotion” programs, a euphemism for
regime change operations. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a cabal of the
reactionary Catholic Church hierarchy, conservative business
associations, remnants of the US-sponsored Contras, and students from
private universities attempted a coup.
Former members of Ortega’s Sandinista Party, who had long ago splintered
off into political oblivion and drifted to the right, became effective
propagandists for the opposition. Through inciting violence and the
skillful use of disinformation in a concerted social media barrage, they
attempted to achieve by extra-legal means what they could not achieve
democratically. Imperialism with a Happy Face.
We who live in the “belly of the beast” are constantly bombarded by the
corporate media, framing the issues (e.g., “humanitarian bombing). Some
leftish groups and individuals pick up these signals, amplify, and
rebroadcast them. While they may genuinely believe what they are
promulgating, there are also rewards such as funding, media coverage,
hobnobbing with prominent US politicians, and winning awards for
abhorring the excesses of imperialism while accepting its premises.
Today’s organizations that are socialist in name and imperialist in deed
echo the imperial demand that the state leaders of the progressive
movements in Latin America “must go” and legitimize the rationale that
such leaders must be “dictators.”
They try to differentiate their position from the imperialists by
proffering a mythic movement, which will create a triumphant socialist
alternative that fits their particular sect’s line: Chavismo without
Maduro in Venezuela, Sandinismo without Ortega in Nicaragua, and the
Cuban Revolution without the Cuban Communist Party in Cuba.
The political reality in Latin America is that a right-wing offensive is
attacking standing left- leaning governments. President George W. Bush
was right: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
There is no Utopian third way. Each of us has to determine who are the
real terrorists, as the juggernaut of US imperialism rolls out a
neoliberal world order.
*Chaos: The New Imperialist Game Plan*
For now, the coup in Nicaragua has been averted. Had it succeeded, chaos
would have reigned. As even the most ardent apologists for the
opposition admit, the only organized force in the opposition was the
US-sponsored rightwing which would have instigated a reign of terror
against the Sandinista base.
The US would prefer to install stable rightwing client states or even
military dictatorships. But if neither can be achieved, chaos is the
preferred alternative. Libya, where rival warlords contest for power and
slaves are openly bartered on the street, is the model coming to Latin
Chaos is the new imperialist game plan, especially for Bolton’s
so-called troika of tyranny. The imperialists understand that the
progressive social movements in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are too
popular and entrenched to be eradicated by a mere change of personnel in
the presidential palace. Much more drastic means are envisioned; means
that would make the bloody aftermath of the US-backed Pinochet coup in
1973 in Chile pale by comparison.
In Venezuela, for example, the opposition might well have won the May
2018 presidential election given the dire economic situation caused in
large part by the US sanctions. The opposition split between a moderate
wing that was willing to engage in electoral struggle and a hard-right
wing that advocated a violent takeover and jailing the Chavistas.
When Venezuelan President Maduro rejected the US demand to call off the
elections and resign, he was labelled a dictator by Washington. And when
moderate Henri Falcon ran in the Venezuelan presidential race on a
platform of a complete neoliberal transition, Washington, instead of
rejoicing, threatened sanctions against him for running. The US
belligerently floated a military option for Venezuela, stiffened the
suffocating sanctions, and tipped the balance within the Venezuelan
opposition to the radical right.
The US is not about to allow Venezuela a soft landing. Their intent is
to exterminate the contagion of progressive social programs and
international policy that has been the legacy of nearly two decades
Chavismo. Likewise, for Cuba and Nicaragua. We should also add Bolivia
in the crosshairs of the empire.
We’ve seen what Pax Americana has meant for the Middle East. The same
imperial playbook is being implemented in Latin America. Solidarity with
the progressive social movements and their governments in Latin America
is needed, especially when their defeat would mean chaos.
/Roger Harris is on the board of the Task Force on the Americas, a
33-year-old anti-imperialist //human rights organization, and is active
with the Campaign to End US-Canadian Sanctions //Against Venezuela./
/The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily reflect those of the Venezuelanalysis editorial staff./
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