Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Article excerpt

With the failure of its three previous attempts since 2002 to topple the Bolivarian Revolution of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Washington has recently announced a new "containment" strategy for crippling the democratically elected and socialist-oriented government of Latin America's leading oil power.

In April 2002 the Venezuelan people rose up and reversed a U.S. supported military coup against Chavez, who had been elected president in 1998 and then again under a new more democratic constitution in 2000. In winter 2002-03 Chavez's government overcame with popular backing an oil industry shutdown and general lockout to which Washington had given its blessing. And in August 2004 the Venezuelan poor mobilized to deliver Chavez a resounding victory in a recall referendum in which Washington had done everything it could to bolster the opposition.

Unable to instigate another coup because of the military's allegiance to the Chavez government, and prevented from introducing a full economic blockade by the fact that Venezuela supplies 15 percent of U.S oil imports, the Bush administration's current options for destabilizing the Venezuelan revolution are limited. It has therefore turned to declaring Venezuela a military threat to the hemisphere and hence to the security of the United States. By calling its new policy one of "containing" Venezuela, it seeks to justify a more nakedly imperialist policy of regime change, building the case for U.S. military intervention if necessary in order to secure U.S. hemispheric dominance.

The lead role in articulating this new more aggressive posture has been taken by Roger Pardo-Mauer, deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs in the defense department, and a former state department representative to the Nicaraguan Contra terrorists, who with U.S. backing helped bring down the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua by 1990. In an interview with the Financial Times (March 13, 2004) Pardo-Mauer hypocritically stated that Chavez has adopted a "hyena strategy" in Latin America and is guilty of "downright subversion." Venezuela is accused of supporting insurgents in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. Venezuela is also being criticized by the Bush administration and the corporate media for threatening to cut off the supply of Venezuelan oil to the United States if force is used in any way against it, and for working at building a global alliance against what Chavez calls "the imperialist power of the United States."

But the strongest U.S. criticisms are aimed at recent defense purchases by Venezuela, which has acquired 100,000 Kalshnikov rifles from Russia and military aircraft from Brazil. …

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