[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 
social assistance.

*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 
Latin America.

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 
Central America.
– 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 
World Bank).
– 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 
community policing.

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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