[News] Gaza Rallies for Caracas: On the West’s Dangerous Game in Venezuela
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 5 10:25:52 EST 2019
Gaza Rallies for Caracas: On the West’s Dangerous Game in Venezuela
by Ramzy Baroud <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/ramzy-baroud/> -
February 5, 2019
Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of besieged Gaza to show
their support of the democratically-elected government of Venezuela and
it’s legitimate leader, President Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela is struggling to defeat a coup attempt that is supported by
the United States, Israel and many Western governments.
The relationship between Venezuela and Palestine has been particularly
strong under the presidencies of late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez and
current president Maduro. Neither leader has missed an opportunity to
show their solidarity towards the Palestinian people, a fact that has
always irked Tel Aviv and its western benefactors.
The Gaza rallies, however, were more than a display of gratitude towards
a country that had enough courage to break off ties with Israel
following the latter’s 2008-9 war on Gaza – a bloody campaign known as
“Operation Cast Lead”. Thousands of Palestinians were killed in that
one-sided war. No Arab government that has diplomatic ties with Israel
severed its relations with Tel Aviv. While Caracas – over 10 thousand
kilometers away – did. Then, former President Chavez, accused Israel of
But there is more to Palestinian solidarity with Venezuela than this
recent history. Palestinians have experienced decades-long collective
trauma from US-funded Israeli colonialism and military occupation. The
US has imposed itself as an ‘honest peace broker’ as a way to mask its
political interference and meddling in the Middle East, while fully and
blindly supporting Israeli aggressions.
While the Venezuelan people have every right to protest their
government, demanding greater accountability and economic solutions to
the crushing poverty facing the country, no one has the right to meddle
in the affairs of Venezuela or any other sovereign country anywhere.
We must remember that the US government has hardly ever been a source of
stability in South America, certainly not since the Monroe Doctrine of
1823. Since then, the US has done more than mere meddling, but outright
political and military interventions, supporting various coups that
toppled or attempted to overthrow democratically-elected governments.
What is underway in Caracas is a repeat of that sad and tragic history.
The unhealthy relationship between the US and its southern neighbors
took an even darker turn when, in 1904, then US President Theodore
Roosevelt declared the “right” of his country to hold “international
police power” in Latin America. Since then, the entire region has been
Always looking for opportunities to exploit, Washington now sees a
chance to undermine Venezuela and its elected government.
The Venezuelan people are dealing with overwhelming poverty and a very
unstable social situation. Hyperinflation and the crumbling of the
country’s oil industries led to a dramatic economic downturn, with about
10% of the population fleeing the country. Poor policy choices led to an
escalation of the already endemic corruption, to a significant weakening
of local production and increasing devaluation of the country’s currency.
However, consensus around president Maduro’s socialist government is
still broad, as witnessed by their victory in the 2018 presidential
Despite the presence of about 150 international observers from 30
countries and international organizations, which declared that the last
Venezuelan election was transparent, domestic opponents, supported by
the US and its western and regional allies denounced it as “fraud
foretold”, even before Maduro delivered his victory speech.
The US and its Western allies are frustrated by the fact that despite
its economic problems, most Venezuelans remained united around Chavez,
and now Maduro, who are perceived, especially by the poorer classes, as
independent national leaders fighting against constant US
destabilization and neocolonialism.
The world order is vastly changing, but US ruling elites refuse to
change. While speaking about Washington’s need to “protect democracy” in
Venezuela, US National Security Advisor, the infamous Israel supporter,
John Bolton admitted that the coup in Venezuela is an opportunity to
exploit the country’s oil and natural resources.
“It will make a big difference to the United States economically”,
Bolton told Fox News in an interview this week, “if we could have
American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in
Tragically, the US boycott against Venezuela forced the country to sell
its gold in return for valuable currency, as well as consumer goods,
food and medicinal products. The coup is meant to completely push
Caracas to its knees.
Western predators are all moving in, each party playing the role
entrusted of them, as if history is repeating itself. Bank of England
(BoE) has blocked Maduro’s officials from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth
of Venezuela’s gold. Worse, brazen interference from foreign countries
is becoming so pronounced that UK foreign office minister, Sir Alan
Duncan has suggested that the BoE grant access to the gold reserves to
the self-proclaimed opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Germany, and France and Spain gave Venezuela’s Maduro an ultimatum: the
President has eight days to call elections, otherwise they’ll recognize
Guaido as president. On January 31, the European Parliament recognized
Guaido as a de facto leader of Venezuela in complete disregard of the
democratic rights of the Venezuelan people.
Yet, as odd as this may seem to some, Maduro still enjoys greater
legitimacy in his country than Donald Trump or Emmanuel Macron do in the
US and France respectively. Yet, no entity is threatening to intervene
in France, for example on behalf of the ‘Yellow Vests’, who have
protested in their hundreds of thousands for weeks, demanding an end to
It is doubly important that Venezuela doesn’t collapse before this
US-led sinister campaign because of the rising far-right powers in South
and Latin America, namely the upsurge of reactionary forces in Brazil.
If Venezuela’s political order disintegrates, others, too will become
target: Bolivia, Cuba, and even Mexico.
Since the US partial withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, and the
Obama Administration’s ‘pivot to Asia’, to challenge the inevitable
dominance of China, US policy makers have been keen on staging a
comeback in South America as well. More recently, the just-departed US
ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley was instrumental in shaping the
aggressive US policy towards Venezuela.
Now that the country is struggling with extreme poverty – itself
resulting from the manipulation of oil prices – the US sees an
opportunity to make its move, and reclaim its destructive, domineering
role in that part of the world. The election in Brazil of far-right
leader, Jair Bolsonaro, who wants to “make Brazil great again’ is
tipping the balance in favor of reactionary forces in the whole region.
But the plot against Venezuela is also an opportunity for those who want
to challenge the old order, to tell the US government ‘enough is
enough’; that the age of coups and blood-soaked interventions should be
behind us, and that South America must not be subjugated again.
As Palestinians have fought Israeli tyranny for years, Venezuelans will
continue to fight foreign tyranny and unlawful political and military
interventions as well. And with true and tangible global solidarity,
both nations will prevail – sooner or later.
/*Ramzy Baroud* is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine
Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto
Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the
University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for
Global and International Studies, UCSB./
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