by Prof. James Petras
Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research
Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
A protest outside the United States Consulate
in Sydney on January 23, 2019
to demand no U.S. intervention in Venezuela.
Photo: Peter Boyle
is 'our' Region"
Not since the U.S. pronounced the
Monroe Doctrine proclaiming its
imperial supremacy over Latin America, nearly 200 years ago, has a
White House regime so openly affirmed its mission to recolonize
The second decade of the 21st century has witnessed, in
word and deed, the most thorough and successful U.S. recolonization
of Latin America, and its active and overt role as colonial
sepoys of an imperial power.
In this paper we will examine the process of recolonization and the
strategy tactics and goals which are the driving forces of
We will conclude by
discussing the durability, stability and Washington's capacity to
retain ownership of the Hemisphere.
History of 20th Century Colonization and Decolonization
U.S. colonization of Latin America was based on direct U.S.
military, economic, cultural and political interventions with
special emphasis on,
Washington resorted to
military invasions, to impose favorite trade and investment
advantages and appointed and trained local military forces to uphold
colonial rule and to ensure submission to U.S. regional and global
The U.S. challenged rival European colonial powers - in particular
England and Germany - and eventually reduced them to marginal
status, through military and economic pressure and threats.
The recolonization process suffered severe setbacks in some regions
and nations with the onset of the Great Depression which
undermined the U.S. military and economic presence and facilitated
the rise of powerful nationalist regimes and movements in particular
The process of
'decolonization' led to, and included,
nationalization of U.S. oil fields, sugar and mining sectors
a shift in
foreign policy toward relatively greater independence
labor laws which
increased workers' rights and leftwing unionization
The U.S. victory in World
War II and its economic supremacy led Washington to re-assert its
colonial rule in the Western Hemisphere.
The Latin American
regimes 'lined up' with Washington in the Cold and Hot wars,
backing the U.S. wars against,
China, Korea, Vietnam
and the confrontation against the USSR and Eastern Europe...
For Washington, working
through its colonized dictatorial regimes, invaded every sector of
the economy, especially agro-minerals.
It proceeded to dominate
markets and sought to impose colonized trade unions run by the
By the early 1960's a wave of popular nationalist and socialist
social movements challenged the colonial order, led by the Cuban
revolution and accompanied by nationalist governments throughout the
manufacturing firms were forced to engage in joint ventures or were
nationalized, as were sectors of,
Nationalists proceeded to
substitute local products for imports, as a development strategy.
A process of
decolonization was underway!
The U.S. reacted by launching a war to recolonize Latin America by
Latin America once more
lined up with the U.S. in support of its economic boycott of Cuba,
and the repression of nationalist governments.
The U.S. reversed
nationalist policies and denationalized their economies under the
direction of U.S. controlled so-called international financial
organizations - like the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank
(WB) and Inter-American
The recolonization process advanced, throughout the 1970's and
1980's, under the auspices of newly imposed military regimes and the
new 'neo-liberal' free-market doctrine.
Once again recolonization led to highly polarized societies in which
the domestic colonized elites were a distinct minority.
Moreover, the colonial
economic doctrine allowed the U.S. banks and investors to plunder
the Latin countries, impose,
de-industrialization of the economies
decline in living standards
By the early years of the
21st century, deepening colonization led to an economic
crisis and the resurgence of mass movements and new waves of
nationalist-popular movements which sought to reverse - at least in
part - the colonial relationship and structures:
were renegotiated or written off
a few foreign
firms were nationalized
increased on agro-exporters
public welfare spending reduced poverty
increased salaries and wages
A process of
de-colonization advanced, aided by a boom in commodity pieces.
Twenty-first century decolonization was partial and affected only a
limited sector of the economy; it mainly increased popular
consumption rather than structural changes in property
and financial power.
Venezuela Relations: A Case Study of Imperialism and
De-colonization co-existed with colonial power elites.
The major significant
changes took place with regard to regional policies. Decolonizing
elites established regional alliance which excluded or minimized the
Regional power shifted to,
Brazil in Mercosur
Central America and the Caribbean
Bolivia in the Andean region
But as history has
demonstrated, imperial power can suffer reverses and lose
collaborators but while the U.S. retains its military and economic
levers of power it can and will use all the instruments of power to
recolonize the region, in a step by step approach, incorporating
regions in its quest for hemisphere supremacy.
Recolonization of Latin America - Brazil, Argentina, and the Lima
Pact Against Venezuela
As the first decade of the 21st century unfolded numerous
Latin American governments and movements began the process of
decolonization, displacing U.S. client regimes, taking the lead in
regional organizations, diversifying their markets and trading
Nevertheless, the leaders and parties were incapable and unwilling
to break with local elites tied to the U.S. colonization
Vulnerable to downward movements in commodity prices, composed of
heterogeneous political alliances and unable to create or deepen
anti-colonial culture, the U.S. moved to reconstruct its colonial
The U.S. struck first at the 'weakest link' of the decolonization
the U.S. backed
coups in Honduras and Paraguay
to converting the judiciary and congress as stepping stones
for launching a political attack on the strategic regimes in
Argentina and Brazil
regimes in Ecuador, Chile, Peru and El Salvador into the
As the recolonization
process advanced, the U.S. regained its dominance in regional and
The colonized regimes
privatized their economies and Washington secured regimes willing to
assume onerous debts, previously repudiated. The U.S. advances in
recolonization looked toward targeting the oil rich, dynamic and
formidable anti-colonial government in Venezuela.
Venezuela was targeted for several
under President Chavez opposed U.S. regional and global
provided financial resources to bolster and promote
anti-colonial regimes throughout Latin America especially in
the Caribbean and Central America.
Venezuela invested in, and implemented, a profound and
comprehensive state social agenda, building schools and
hospitals with free education and health care, subsidized
food and housing. Socialist democratic Venezuela contrasted
with the U.S. abysmal dismantling of the welfare state among
the reconstructed colonial states.
Venezuela's national control over natural resources,
especially oil, was a strategic target in Washington
While the U.S.
successfully reduced or eliminated Venezuela's allies in the rest of
Latin America, its repeated efforts to subdue Venezuela failed.
An abortive coup
was defeated; as was a referendum to impeach President
U.S. boycotts and
the bankrolling of elections failed to oust the Venezuelan
unable to pressure and secure the backing of the mass of the
population or the military.
successful in imposing colonial regimes elsewhere, failed.
The U.S. turned
to a multi-prong, continent-wide, covert and overt military,
political, economic and cultural war.
The White House
appointed Juan Guaido, a virtual unknown, as 'interim
President'. Guaido was elected to Congress with 25% of the
vote in his home district. Washington spent millions of
dollars in promoting Guaido and funding NGOs and self-styled
human rights organization to slander the Venezuelan
government and launch violent attacks on the security
The White House
rounded up its recolonized regimes in the region to
recognize Guaido as the 'legitimate President'.
recruited several leading European Union countries,
especially the UK, France and Germany to isolate Venezuela.
The U.S. sought
to penetrate and subvert the Venezuelan populace via
so-called humanitarian aid, refusing to work through the Red
Cross and other independent organizations.
The White House
fixed the weekend of Feb. 23 - 24 as the moment to oust
President Maduro. It was a total, unmitigated failure,
putting the lie to all of Washington's fabrications.
The U.S. claimed
the Armed Forces would defect and join with the U.S. funded
opposition - only a hundred or so , out of 260,000 did so.
The military remained loyal to the Venezuelan people, the
government and the constitution despite bribes and promises.
claimed 'the people' in Venezuela would launch an
insurrection and hundreds of thousands would cross the
border. Apart from a few dozen street thugs, tossing Molotov
cocktails there was no uprising and less than a few hundred
tried to cross the border.
Tons of U.S.
'aid' remained in the Colombian warehouses. The Brazilian
border patrol sent the U.S. funded 'protestors' packing for
blocking free passage across the frontier
provocateurs who incinerated two trucks carrying 'aid' were
exposed, the vehicles in flames remained on the Colombian
side of the border. U.S. sponsored boycotts of Venezuelan
oil exports partially succeed because Washington illegally
seized Venezuela export revenues.
Lima Group passed hostile
resolutions and re-anointed "Trump's President" Guaido,
but few voters in the region took their pronouncements
The recolonized states in
Latin America serve to,
markets to U.S. investors on easy terms, with low taxes and
social and labor costs, and political and economic stability
based on repression of popular class and national struggles.
are expected to support U.S. boycotts, coups and invasions
and to supply military troops as ordered.
take the U.S. side in international conflicts and
negotiations; in regional organizations they vote with the
U.S. and meet debt payments on time and in full.
nations ensure favorable results for Washington by
manipulating elections and judicial decisions and by
excluding anti-colonial candidates and officials and
arresting political activists.
regimes anticipate the needs and demands of Washington and
introduce resolutions on their behalf in regional
In the case of
Venezuela, they promote and organize regional bloc like the
Lima Group to promote U.S. led intervention.
proceeds to destabilize Venezuela the colonized allies
recycle U.S. mass media propaganda and offer sanctuaries for
opposition defectors and refugees.
In sum the recolonized
elites facilitate domestic plunder and overseas conquests.
Venezuela success in resisting and defeating the U.S. drive for
reconquest is the result of nationalist and socialist leaders who
re-allocate private wealth and re-distribute public expenditures to
the workers, peasants and the unemployed.
Under President Chavez, Venezuela recruited and promoted
military and security forces loyal to the constitutional order and
in line with a popular socio-economic and anti-colonial agenda.
Venezuela ensured that elections and judicial appointments were free
and in-line with the politics of the majority.
The Venezuelans ensured that military advisers were independent of
U.S. military missions and aid agencies which plot coups and are
disloyal to the nationalist state.
Venezuelan social democracy, its social advances and the massive
reduction of poverty and inequality, contributed to reinforcing
commitments to endogenous cultural values and national sovereignty.
Despite the U.S. accumulation of colonial vassals throughout Latin
America and Europe, Venezuela has consolidated mass support.
the global mass media it has not
influenced popular opinion on a world scale. Despite U.S. threats of
a 'military option' it lacks global support. In the face of
prolonged and large scale resistance, Washington hesitates.
In addition the Latin
Americans colonized states face domestic social and economic crises
and political resistance.
Europe confronts a regional break-up.
Washington is riven by
partisan divisions and a constitutional crisis.
The failure of the imperialist ultra's in Washington to defeat
Venezuela can set in motion a new wave of decolonization struggles
which can force the U.S. to look inward and downward - in order to
decolonize its own electorate.