Where is the Outrage?

by Maria Paez Victor, published on Counterpunch, September 22, 2023

“How about we’re buying oil from Venezuela? When I left, Venezuela was ready to collapse. We would’ve taken it over; we would have gotten all that oil; it would’ve been right next door. But now we’re buying oil from Venezuela, we’re making a dictator very rich. Can you believe this? Nobody can believe it.”

–Donald Trump, at a campaign rally, June 10, 2023, North Carolina

The former USA president, putative candidate for the next presidential election, admitted that he wanted to “collapse” a duly elected democratic government in this Hemisphere; to take it over, to appropriate all its oil. This is an admission of the violation of fundamental international laws and an intent to commit crimes against Humanity.[1]

Why is there little or no reaction to Trump’s stark admission from those politicians, media and commentators that actively joined USA’s imperial adventure of “regime change”? Where are the spokespersons of those 50 governments that, following Trump’s lead, denied the Venezuelan government’s legitimacy insisting that a bogus unelected individual was the real Venezuelan president, and obeyed illegal sanctions against Venezuela?[2] Do they feel they were misled by Trump, if so, where is their outrage? Nowhere. One can only surmise that they too, knew this all along. Currently, these countries have silently accepted the reality that Nicolas Maduro is the real and only president of Venezuela, the USA being the only one denying it, even though it has started some conversations at high level with it.3

Trump clearly and emphatically removed the mask from this blatant USA neo-colonialism. Trump’s relentless violent and economic attacks and demonization of the Venezuelan government were all about robbing a nation of its own natural wealth, not protecting democracy, but about full-scale theft.

Maybe some in the USA and in other governments were hoodwinked by the sanctimonious language of conquest, about “restoring democracy in Venezuela”, “rescuing it from a dictator”, “safeguarding human rights” and other hypocritical language to that effect. But to any thinking person, and certainly to the great majority of Venezuelans, this was no new revelation. They knew from the start of Washington’s escalation of aggression against them, that it was all about the oil – the USA simply wanted complete control of Venezuelan oil. It was not enough that Venezuela has always been eager to sell its petroleum and has been selling it to the USA since the 1920’s; no, it was about controlling it absolutely. No private/public arrangements would suit. Complete appropriation was Trump’s objective, and what is more, the Democratic president, Joe Biden continues Trump’s line of policy, not relenting on the 926 illegal sanctions against that country. Except for pure self- interest, recently Washington allowed CHEVRON to extract oil in Venezuela, but it must be exported only to the USA, no profit allowed to go to Venezuela itself but to creditors in the USA.[3]

What did the Trump regime do to try to “collapse” the Venezuelan government? The USA openly and enthusiastically, supported and financed the most extreme elements of the Venezuelan opposition involved in successive coups d’etat, and imposed illegal sanctions and backed mercenary military invasions.[4]

The USA illegal sanctions block Venezuela out of international markets for oil, medicines, and food. They impede the country from producing and selling its oil. For 14 months it could not sell a drop of oil; the national revenues decreased by an astonishing 99%.[5] UN rapporteurs estimate these coercive measures caused least 100,000 Venezuelan deaths.[6] During Trump’s term of office, the USA directly and indirectly supported multiple attacks on the Venezuelan government and people. This included months of street violence that left 150 dead; several invasions by mercenaries; an attempted assassination of President Maduro with armed drones; a crippling cyberattack on the national electricity grid that left the country without electricity for 5 days; a false “humanitarian” invasion; an alternative government with an unelected puppet – J. Guaido; $10 billion robbed through the theft of CITGO (the Venezuelan oil company in the USA) and $7 billion Venezuelan funds in US banks; handing these assets to Guaido and his criminal band; multiple successful attacks on the currency and economy causing hyper-inflation; and giving asylum to many who have fled Venezuelan justice due to escape justice for corruption, treason and other crimes.[7]

It is appalling that Trump’s declarations have not been covered widely by the mainstream media. Where is the indignation of Democrats and of US citizens who actually believe in international law? Where are the apologies of those who spread vile, unfounded criticism of Venezuela, attributing its economic woes to the “socialist policies” of the government and not to the illegal sanctions imposed by the USA and its allies aimed specifically at ruining the Venezuelan economy?[8]

There has been little or no media coverage, or apologies from politicians or commentators, or even recognition of the cat that Trump let out of the bag, because the awful truth is that in the political sphere of Washington, many Republicans and Democrats still believe in the Monroe Doctrine, which regards Latin America as the backyard of the USA. In their muddled political labyrinth, they believe they and their corporations have some sort of indisputable right to Venezuelan oil, and on their terms.

Trump had no closer ally in this campaign to derail the Venezuelan government than Canada, a nation that has absolutely no claim or cause to act as if Venezuela was its enemy. Its two main reasons for enthusiastically following Trump’s lead were, firstly to show the USA that Canada is its unconditional bosom pal in all things imperial; and secondly, to make sure that when the Venezuelan piñata was finally broken up, the gold fields of that country would be placed at the feet of Canadian mining companies.[9]

Hence Canada became the leader of right-wing governments with very flawed democratic credentials: the Group of Lima, whose self-declared mission was to discredit and overthrow the elected Venezuelan government.[10] The Group is now defunct – another fact ignored by the mainstream media – as the voters in Latin America have now elected governments of a different stripe, concerned with facing together the many challenges that their people need to overcome for a better life, rather than the right-wing governments’ ideological obsessions that have led only to their ruin.[11]

So today, in the region, Venezuela is not alone in facing Washington’s delusional, coercive measures. Amongst others, the four key nations of México, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina are no longer against Venezuela. Furthermore, the prospects for a greater integrated Latin America, including Cuba and Nicaragua, is now very strong through the revitalization of CELAC, UNASUR, and MERCOSUR. Beyond the region, Venezuela can count on the financial, diplomatic, and commercial backing of China, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, with Venezuela now a candidate to join the BRICS and the newly emerging international financial system not based on the mighty dollar.[12]

There is a saying in Spanish that there is no one who is more blind than the person who does not want to see. Washington seems to refuse to recognize that it is no longer the ringleader of the block, that the world is becoming multi-polar, and that the end of the reign of the dollar is now in sight. A main cause of these developments has been, and continues to be, Washington’s own delusions of conquest, its heavy hand in waging war – both military and financial – against many governments, and most profoundly, because of its trashing of international laws and rules of international commerce to suit its own imperial ambitions. The USA itself has created and dispersed throughout the world a palpable distrust towards itself by seeking vassals, not friends, and have turned competitors into enemies. Subjugated nations which treasure their sovereignty, are rebelling against neo-colonialism. It is well past time for the USA to face reality.

The wonder of it all is that Venezuela did push back and has prevailed despite the arsenal of weapons that Obama, Trump, and Biden, launched against it.[13] Venezuela has not collapsed and, despite the aggression against it, has begun to thrive as its record on housing, education, and agriculture as well as its recent economic growth, clearly illustrate. For example, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, Venezuela’s real GDP is forecast to expand by 5.6% in 2023 and by 5% in 2024.[14]

This could not have occurred if the government of President Nicolás Maduro had been a superficial, populist, PR endeavor. On the contrary, the Venezuelan government is a stable, popular government, backed by its people who are organized through its political parties, state institutions, unions, communal councils, communes, and a plethora of grassroots organizations that in such grave times of crisis have rallied to the cause of a sovereign Venezuela.[15]

There may be those who see these events as concerning only a small country in Latin America, of no great consequence for the USA, Europe, or the world. (Vietnam was also a small country often so described.) But there is a political tectonic fault that underlies the USA’s sanctions and hybrid war against Venezuela that surely has world-wide implications. It is the USA’s trashing of international law, and doing it with spurious claims, and most abominably, by ignoring it. I refer to the international laws that proclaim the rights of nations to their self-determination and the prohibition of threats or force against them.

Washington’s sanctions – economic and military aggressions against the integrity of the state institutions and the duly elected government of Venezuela – have violated each and every one of these fundamental international laws. Furthermore, as to the sanctions themselves, no less than three UN Human Rights rapporteurs, Alfred De Zaya, Alena Douhan and Volker Turk, have reported that these are crimes against humanity because their direct purpose is to inflict harm upon a civilian population.[16]

So, where is the outrage when the ex-president of the United States, Donald Trump, publicly boasts of the harm that his policies have caused the Venezuelan people? Where is the outrage when the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, continues these illegal and immoral measures? Where is the outrage when the nation with the most powerful military force in the world wages a hybrid, yet deadly war against a much smaller nation that cannot possibly pose any military or security risk to the USA?

Without this outrage, we are left with undefended, unprotected nations, a world where international law means nothing, real democracy is violated, and only the greed and self-interest of a super- power prevails to despoil and destroy.

NOTES

1. The key international laws that protect nations’ right to self-determination and the prohibition of threats or force against them are: The United Nations Charter, article 2; Vienna Declaration of Action, article 32 of the UN Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States; The International Criminal Court, article 7 of the Rome Statute; and The Organization of American States, Chapter 4, article 1

2. More than 50 countries support Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó, Share America, Nov 15, 2019 https://share.america.gov/support-for-venezuelas-juan-guaido-grows-infographic/

3. Haik Gugarats, US pushes back on Venezuela sanctions relief, 21 April 2023, ARGUS, https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2442049-us-pushes-back-on-venezuela-sanctions-relief ; Karen DeYoung, US Grants Chevron License to pump oil in Venezuela, Washington Post, 26 Nov 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/11/26/us-grants-chevron-license-pump-oil-venezuela/

4. Joe Emersberger, Justin Podur, “Extraordinary Threat, The US Empire, the Media, and Twenty Years of Coup Attempts in Venezuela”, Monthly Review Press, NY, 2021

5. Presidente Nicolás Maduro: “Venezuela estuvo 14 meses sin vender una gota de petróleo”, https://www.semana.com/mundo/articulo/venezuela-estuvo-14-meses-sin-vender-una-gota-de-petroleo-afirma-nicolas-maduro/202142/, 16/06/2021

6. Alfred de Zayas, Economic Sanctions Kill, COUNTERPUNCH, 18 March 2015, https://www.counterpunch.org; Weisbrot, M., & Sachs, J. (2019). Punishing Civilians: U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela. Challenge, 62(5), 299–321. https://doi.org/10.1080/05775132.2019.1638094

7. The Ultimate Guide on Sanctions Against Venezuela, YouTube, https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8wZlLPASxwI; Pascualina Curcio, The Impact Of The Economic War On Venezuela, 6 July 2020, www.ultimasnoticias.com; https://ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/opinion/impacto-economico-de-la-guerra-en-venezuela/; Nathali Gómez, “Las cifras rojas del bloqueo: ocho años desde que EEUU declareo a Venezuelea como una “amenaz”, 9 March 2023, https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/460327-ocho-anos-eeuu-venezuela-amenaza-inusual?utm_source=Email-Message&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Email_daily

8. Peter Bolton, Even The New York Times Now Admi https://rebelion.org/los-activos-venezolanos-en-el-fuego-cruzado-corporativo-caso-crystallex/ts That It’s US Sanctions, Not Socialism, That’s Destroying Venezuela, June 8, 2021 – CounterPunch.org – https://www.counterpunch.org –

9. Andre Domise, When it comes to Venezuela, Canada’s on the wrong side of the coup, https://macleans.ca/opinion/when-it-comes-to-venezuela-canadas-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-coup/; Urooba Jamal, Why Canada wants Regime Chanage in Venezuela, June 3, 2019, https://macleans.ca/opinion/when-it-comes-to-venezuela-canadas-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-coup/;Pierre Leblanc, La obsession del gobierno canadiense por el cambio de regimen, 07/04/2021,
https://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/211714;Mision Verdad; Los activos venezolanos en el fuego cruzado corporativo: Caso Crystallex, 27,09/2021,  https://rebelion.org/los-activos-venezolanos-en-el-fuego-cruzado-corporativo-caso-crystallex/

10. Steve Lalla, Canada’s Lima Group: Let’s Break it Down,
https://orinocotribune.com/canadas-lima-group-lets-break-it-down/, Oct. 29, 2020; Christopher Black, “The Lima Group: International Outlaws and regime Change Conspirators”, Global Research, 6 Feb. 2019, https://globalresearch.ca/lima-group-international-outlaws/566765

11. Yves Engler, When Will Canada Admit its Venezuelan Coup Failed? 20 Jan. 2022- CounterPunch.org – https://www.counterpunch.org -, https://springmag.ca/when-will-canada-admit-its-venezuela-coup-failed?; María Páez Victor, Canada Trpped by its Own Folly, Feb. 20, 2020, ounterPunch.org – https://www.counterpunch.org –

12.Brazil’s Lula favors bid by Venezuela to join BRICS, Reuters Staff, https://www.reuters.com/article/brazil-summit-brics-idAFS0N37802A

13. It was the Democratic Party president Obama that opened the gates for illegal sanctions when he declared in March 2015 that “ Venezuela posed an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States”which allowed the president special war powers against that nation. Trump ran with this power and Biden continues the farse that Venezuela somehow threatens the USA, thus this decree is the “lawfare” base for the sanctions. Reality shows that it is the USA that threatened the national security and wellbeing of Venezuela.

14. Economic recovery in Venezuela to sustain in 2023 and 2024, says GlobalData, 30 March 2023 https://www.globaldata.com/media/business-fundamentals/economic-recovery-in-venezuela-to-sustain-in-2023-and-2024-says-globaldata/

15. Jesus Rodríguez Espinoza, Economic Growth Returns to Venezuela, 25 Jan. 2022,
https://kawsachunnews.com/economic-growth-returns-to-venezuela-interview; Jesús Faría, Venezuela: From resistance to Recovery in Production and Social Welfare, Jan. 1, 2022,

16. Independent UN rights expert calls for unilateral sanctions to be dropped against Venezuela, Alena Douhan, https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1084642; Volker Turk: UN human rights chief: End Venezuela sanctions which ‘exacerbated economic crisis and hindered human rights’, 02/02/2023https://geopoliticaleconomy.com/2023/02/02/un-human-rights-chief-sanctions-venezuela/; Alfred de Zayas, UN Feb. 28, 2018, UN independent expert: Venezuela sanctions must be terminated and economic war must end.

*Featured Image: A Venezuelan protester holds a poster that reads in Spanish “Against Imperialist aggression, respect Venezuela” during a protest outside the National Assembly in Caracas Venezuela. (AP/Howard Yanes)


María Páez Victor, Ph.D. is a Venezuelan born sociologist living in Canada. 

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