The Tragicomic Embarrassment of American Intervention in Venezuela

I don’t know how much longer I can remain an American.

[You’ll always be an American, even if you collect your things and move to another country, never to return: you’ve been embedded in the American culture for too many years. You can’t pretend it hasn’t come to define you, even if only from a point of contrast: you’ll be working through these “American problems” for as long as you retain your mental faculties.]

And if I continue to remain in this country, those mental faculties might enter obsolescence sooner, rather than later.

[What’s the rush to hop on an international flight, anyway? Have you committed a felony? If so, I wouldn’t worry: you can always make bail and find your way into Mexico. Once you’re there, it’d really be a breeze—]

No, I’m not worried about that. I haven’t committed any felonies recently, anyway. However, it’s becoming awfully tempting to do something rash, what with the news coming out of Venezuela.

[“The news”? What news have you read or seen on Venezuela? CNN is too busy covering Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Russian Twitter account, a measles outbreak, and a sex symbol’s misspelled tattoo. There is literally nothing on the main page of CNN pertaining to Venezuela; although, to be fair, the BBC did offer such an article this morning, wherein readers were invited to soak up the wisdom and sagacity of a man named Juan Guaidó.]

Should we go easy on the American media, seeing as it was several days ago that the United States announced it was supporting Guaidó?

[Only if you think the American people have submitted to enough mental exercise since Friday to have earned the right to read ten more articles about the Super Bowl.]

Good point. However, I meant what I said: this story is too sickening for me to calmly cover. I am completely serious about finding a way out of this country.

[And into which? You think you’re gonna find a country that is untouched by the lethal reach of the American Empire?]

Probably not, but I can’t continue to walk among people as crudely shameless as these, my fellow Americans. Do you know how repulsive it was to hear people in town talking about how exciting it is that America may be readying itself to enter Venezuela? Suddenly, a population that regularly betrays its political illiteracy—pertaining only to domestic policies—assumes an expertise on the goings-on of Venezuela? How many Americans actually know that Hugo Chávez was Venezuelan and not, say, Puerto Rican?

[Probably fewer than those who know that Puerto Rico is an American territory. So, these people you heard talking about Venezuela . . . what did they say, exactly?]

Obviously, they said that Maduro rigged the election and that his regime is illegitimate. There’s a lot to get into with that proposition alone, so let’s pace ourselves, lest we choke on the plethora of material. In the first place, why are we referring to the Maduro administration as a regime, and not as, oh, I don’t know . . . an administration? Are we really so mentally lazy that we can’t see what a writer is attempting to do when he refers to an administration as a regime? If a journalist referred to the Trump administration as a regime, then everyone would know that that writer has a strongly unfavorable impression of Trump, but when the same language is used to refer to Maduro, no one even notices.

[You were right to say that the American people are politically illiterate: it’s easy to imagine a less educated population, but it’s almost impossible to imagine a country of such opulent technological information engendering a populace of such incredible ignorance. I’ve never known the grotesque naivete of the American people to be so striking, to be so downright incandescent, as it has been in the midst of this scandalous development in Venezuela.]

Just imagine how appalling it’s going to be when our military invades.

[So, you think we’ll send the Vikings? You think we’ll find it necessary to ship out mercenaries to torture the children and rape the women of Venezuela?]

As long as Maduro holds fast, it’s all too likely that the American Empire will send its goons to do the bidding of the military-industrial complex. Alas, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Before we started pondering the future, we were talking about the American public’s immediate adherence to the official narrative, which states: the Maduro “regime” rigged the election of 2018.

[This is why Guaidó boycotted the election: he believed it was going to be rigged.]

Yes, but believing it is going to be rigged and declaring that it was rigged are very different things. In the former instance, we are told that some funny business will be conducted in the future; in the latter, we are told that the results are fake.

[I don’t understand.]

Pompeo and his henchmen, who are proving to be quite adept at keeping Trump on a leash, are in the business of muddying the narrative on Venezuela. They are conflating the concepts of rigging and voter suppression: it is unclear whether the United States believes that Maduro actually lost the election, in which case he would be dismissing the “true” electoral results as fake news.

[Oh, I see what you mean: Guaidó boycotted the election because he felt he couldn’t win, so many of his supporters decided not to vote; but today, he is saying that he won, that he won despite the boycott, and that the poll results that were released last year are fake news.]

Exactly. It’s one thing to boycott the election because you believe your opponent is playing with a loaded hand, but it’s quite another to say that you won anyway. Personally, I find it astonishing, the notion that Guaidó won the election: if you’re boycotting an election, then it’s pretty likely that the ballots won’t fall your way. Isn’t that the whole point of your boycott? Aren’t you throwing the race in an attempt to draw attention to the bigger issue?

[You would think so, but evidently Guaidó wants to have his cake and eat it, too. Well, maybe we shouldn’t say that. I don’t pretend to know how transparent the Venezuelan political process really is.]

This doesn’t have anything to do with transparency: this is about the inanity of Guaidó’s claim that he won the election. Are you aware that more than eighty percent of the Venezuelan people were unaware that a man named Juan Guaidó even existed—until he arbitrarily declared himself to be the nation’s president, that is?

 

https://www.thenation.com/article/venezuela-coup-guaido-maduro/

 

[Are you serious? If that’s true, then Guaidó obviously lost the election. However, I do think we need to talk about the problems in Venezuela, problems that prepare the landscape for revolution in the first place. Obviously, there’s something going on that is inspiring unrest, and I don’t think we can conscientiously ignore it.]

No, and we won’t: there are some serious economic problems in Venezuela, including incredible inflation. However, I’m not sure how the people of Venezuela will benefit from the recent decision by the United States to place sanctions on Venezuelan oil, nor can I fathom what gives the Bank of England the right to seize more than $1 billion in Venezuelan gold, or, even more frighteningly, what good could possibly come of the Bank awarding this fortune to Guaidó with no questions asked.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/28/juan-guaido-bank-england-urged-give-venezuela-gold-reserve-interim-leader-rather-than-nicolas-maduro

 

[The explanation, or the justification, offered is that, if Guaidó is the legitimate president—]

And what, exactly, is the evidence that Guaidó won the election? Have you heard anything from the American intelligence agencies on this quintessential point? This is the only thing they have to do to shut me up: they have to provide strong evidence that Guaidó won the election. Even then, I would refuse to support American military intervention, as no rational historical analysis suggests that any good ever comes of that, but at least we could have a conversation about the jaw-dropping decision made, and the other possible decisions entertained, by the Bank of England.

[So, to be clear, the Bank of England has seized this sum of Venezuelan gold, but it is not currently in the hands of Guaidó?]

Correct. I’m not sure how such a transfer, if it were to be made, would endear Guaidó to the people of Venezuela, especially since it’s becoming more obvious by the day that Guaidó did not win the election. In fact, Trump’s support for Guaidó will almost certainly make him a demon in the eyes of most Venezuelans.

[You mean they won’t greet us as liberators?]

I’ll give you that. That’s a good one. Ah, but seriously: the people of Venezuela, as disgruntled as they are with the economic hardship facing them today, will not welcome the presence of the U.S. military as a deliverance. On the contrary, it will be seen as the mortal injury to the nation, to a nation whose economic issues are certainly exacerbated, and possibly even caused, by the heavy sanctioning and pressuring of the United States. It will be seen as the final chapter in a sad saga of American imperialism in Latin America.

[And we should bear in mind that the propaganda about American liberation is targeted towards the people in this country, mostly: there will be much less incentive to brainwash Venezuelans, as they will have no choice but to accept the onslaught of bloodthirsty American soldiers. They will be held at the point of a gun and forced to deal with their new lot in life; meanwhile, the people of this country will watch Netflix and think about planning a vacation to a foreign paradise, or at least to any country other than Venezuela.]

Did you hear that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the woman who led the Democratic Party’s stealth campaign to deny Bernie Sanders the presidential nomination in 2016, is claiming to stand with the people of Venezuela and to support their right to self-determination? Of course, her definition of such is to support Guaidó. The tasteless irony of American politics is inexhaustible, is it not?

 

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/87834323-132.html

 

[Well, let’s not be entirely pessimistic. Tulsi Gabbard, who, I believe, was the first to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination in 2020, has condemned the Trump administration for supporting the coup—which is, after all, exactly what is taking place in Venezuela. Bernie Sanders was a bit softer in his criticism, but he, too, expressed unease with what our government is doing. Both seemed to note the hypocrisy of the American people, who bellyache daily about the cruelty of the Russian government, interfering in our election, but who simultaneously approve of all that we are doing to write our preferred ending to the Venezuelan election.]

 

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article225071465.html

 

Hopefully, you understand that I am not a cheerleader for Maduro. I have no doubt that Maduro is corrupt, that his amicable relationships with Putin and Erdogan are founded on something slightly less ethereal than a compulsion to global benevolence. Someone’s paying the bills, and Maduro is getting his own, one way or the other. The point is not to hold a candle for Maduro, but to call for the American people to understand that their government is supporting an attempted coup—not because our government believes that Guaidó will do right by the Venezuelan people, but because he will allow the governments of the west to do as they please. He will sell Venezuela’s resources, including their oil, to western conglomerates, and he will allow his people to suffer in the process.

[If you’re right, and I suspect you are, then it is very likely that this sadistic undertaking by the United States, England, and various other countries will eventually give rise to new terrorist cells, to organizations dedicated to avenging the miseries that the West inflicted upon them. We should expect some form of grisly rebuttal, up to and including another attack reminiscent of 9/11.]

Only this time, no one will make a plausible claim of ignorance.

[Hence your interest in getting out of this country?]

I’m not afraid of terrorists. The real terrorists, after all, are in the highest branches of our own government. But I am afraid of the corrosion of my soul, and I think it’s time to find a more hospitable environment, one that requires less moral prostitution on the part of its inhabitants. You just can’t preserve your basic principles in the United States.

[What about in Venezuela?]

Hey, look at that: it’s time to go.

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