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November 2018, Week 3

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 		 [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.] [https://portside.org/] 

 THE TROIKA OF TYRANNY: THE IMPERIALIST PROJECT IN LATIN AMERICA & ITS
EPIGONES  
[https://portside.org/2018-11-19/troika-tyranny-imperialist-project-latin-america-its-epigones]


 

 Roger Harris 
 November 5, 2018
Venezuela Analysis [https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14134] 

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 _ 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. _ 

 , 

 

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 hegemon.

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 states?

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 margins.”

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 half.
– 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 America.

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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