Venezuela crisis: Is the Monroe Doctrine back?
The U.S. flag is displayed at Tesoro's Los Angeles oil refinery in Los Angeles, California - Photo: Lucy Nicholson/REUTERS

Venezuela crisis: Is the Monroe Doctrine back?

Gabriel Moyssen
Mexico City
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The United States attempts to subvert the political order in Venezuela and its open threats to invade the Latin American country are marking the return of interventionism to the hemisphere

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The United States attempts to subvert the political order in Venezuela and its open threats to invade the Latin American country are marking the return of interventionism to the hemisphere, after a brief period of rapprochement and dialogue during the Obama administration.

Beyond the undeniable mistakes and corruption problems that have characterized the government of President Nicolás Maduro—who committed a serious provocation with the landing in Maiquetía of two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers on December—Washington is promoting a regime change operation in the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, inspired on the Libyan and Ukrainian models.

While U.S. President Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of “special interests” around the White House to address the growing internal challenges that his country is facing, he has surrendered his foreign policy to right-wing and neoconservative hawks with an atrocious human rights record.

National Security Advisor John Bolton is at the forefront, warning that “all options are on the table,” calling the Venezuelan military to “accept the peaceful, democratic and constitutional transfer of power,” and showing in a press conference the sentence “5,000 troops to Colombia” in his notepad.

Concentrated in the efforts to stop the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria ordered by Trump in recent months, as an Under Secretary of State Bolton was an active participant in the mendacious campaign to justify the bloody occupation of Iraq in 2003 and has advocated for “pre-emptive strikes” against Iran and North Korea.


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The United States said on Wednesday it has begun withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria as U.S. officials said the United States was considering pulling out all its troops as it winds up its campaign to retake territory once held by Islamic State
United States begins to pull forces from SyriaUnited States begins to pull forces from Syria

This week, he declared in an interview that “we are in conversation with major American companies now. It would make a difference if we could have American companies produce the oil in Venezuela.”

According to the CIA World Factbook, as of January 2018, Venezuela had the largest proven oil reserve of any country, including Saudi Arabia, with 302.3 billion barrels.

It is no wonder that Bolton said in 2012 “I’m interested in Libya if we take the oil. If we don’t take the oil, no interest,” a month after the Atlantic Alliance offensive which left destroyed the more prosperous African nation.

As Senator Marco Rubio summarized, the biggest buyers of Venezuelan oil are U.S. companies Valero Energy and Chevron.

“Refining heavy crude from Venezuela supports great jobs in the U.S. Gulf Coast. For the sake of these workers, I hope they will begin working with the administration” of Juan Guaidó, the self-declaredinterim president” in opposition to Maduro.


Buoyed by protesters, opposition leader Juan Guaidó claims Venezuela presidency

Guaidó’s declaration takes Venezuela into uncharted territory, with the possibility of the opposition now running a parallel government recognized abroad as legitimate but without control over state functions
Buoyed by protesters, opposition leader Juan Guaidó claims Venezuela presidencyBuoyed by protesters, opposition leader Juan Guaidó claims Venezuela presidency

Sea of oil

Fifteen years earlier, Deputy Defense Secretary and future World Bank director, Paul Wolfowitz, remarked: “the difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Even more ominous, the designation of Elliott Abrams as U.S. Special Envoy to Venezuela is considered an unequivocal sign of the warmongering policy adopted by the White House.

As Bolton, the former Assistant Secretary of State for “Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs” is a true creature of the swamp, deeply involved in the Iran-Contras scandal in the 80s.

Abrams pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his secret support of the Nicaraguan Contras with lieutenant colonel Oliver North, now head of the infamous National Rifle Association (NRA), diverting the proceeds of the sale of arms to Iran—at that time subject of an embargo—for its war with Iraq.

The Contras were denounced by major human rights organizations for their “brutality against largely unarmed civilians, including rape, torture, kidnappings, mutilation, and other abuses” in their campaign to topple the Sandinista government.

However, Abrams and the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, John D. Negroponte, orchestrated in parallel the counterinsurgency death squads responsible for hundreds of thousands of victims in Guatemala and El Salvador, as the nearly 1,000 men, women, and children massacred in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador.

For his part, commanding general of the U.S. Southern Command, Craig S. Faller—implicated in the “Fat LeonardNavy corruption case—has been explicit regarding the options contemplated to “solve” the crisis, by means of an invasion as happened in Panama in 1989 or offering Maduro a safe exit from Venezuela.

In order to control the Bolivarian Armed Forces (FAB), he added, it is necessary to give guarantees to its command, which is “basically corrupt. Maduro is buying them; to end this false loyalty it is necessary to offer them some sort of amnesty”.

At the moment, the FAB and its 80,000 soldiers are closing ranks with Maduro.

This determined stance and the mass movement behind the chavismo makes the plans of foreign invasion, a U.S.-backed rebellion or a military coup instigated by thegovernmentof Guaidó more dangerous for regional stability, bearing in mind the size, geography, and population of the country.

There is no doubt that the sanctions imposed on the state oil company PDVSA will cripple the Venezuelan economy and will further polarize its people, forcing them to choose sides.

Nevertheless, it will also lay the ground for the interference of other powers.

China has invested around USD$70 billion in Venezuela, while Russia has invested and lent USD$17 billion, gaining significant ownership stakes in at least five major oil fields and positions in the future outputs of natural gas fields in the Caribbean.

Both countries will not give up their legitimate interests in Venezuela.

The vast and volatile border region between Colombia and Venezuela—visited on Wednesday by Faller—where the guerrillas of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN), paramilitary groups, smugglers and drug trafficking rings are already operating, could be the scenario of a proxy war reminiscent of the bipolar world with incalculable consequences in terms of human lives and economic costs.

It is urgent that the international community give its strong support to the negotiation initiatives like the one proposed by Mexico and Uruguay, calling for a conference the next February 7 on Montevideo.

Sadly, the darker hours of gunboat diplomacy and interventionism are returning to Latin America, after Secretary of State John Kerry said at the Organization of American States in 2013 that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

Editing by Sofía Danis
More by Gabriel Moyssen

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