by Prof. James Petras
Over the past half-decade, a small army of U.S. analysts,
politicians, academics and media pundits have been predicting the
imminent fall, overthrow, defeat and replacement of the Venezuelan
They have been wrong on
all counts, in each and every attempt to foist a U.S. client regime.
In fact, most of
the U.S. induced 'regime changes'
has strengthened the support for the Chavez-Maduro
When the U.S. promoted a military-business coup in 2002, a million
poor people surrounded the presidential palace, allied with the
military loyalists and defeated the coup.
The U.S. lost their
assets among their business and military clients, strengthened
President Chavez, and radicalized his social program.
Likewise, in 2002-03 when
state oil company executives launched a lock-out. They were
defeated, and hundreds of hardcore U.S. supporters were fired and
Washington lost a strategic ally.
A more recent example is the overbearing role of President
Trump's bellicose proclamation
that the U.S. is prepared to invade Venezuela. His threat aroused
massive popular resistance in defense of national independence, even
among discontented sectors of the population.
Venezuela is in the vortex of a global struggle which pits the
imperial aspirations of Washington against an embattled Venezuela
intent on defending its own, and like countries, in support of
national and social justice.
We will proceed by discussing the multi-sided means and methods
adopted by Washington to overthrow Venezuela's government and
replace it by a client regime.
We will then analyze and describe the reasons why Washington has
failed, focusing on the positive strengths of the Venezuelan
We will conclude by discussing the lessons and weaknesses of the
Venezuelan experience for other aspiring nationalist, popular and
Opposition: What Venezuela Faces
U.S. assault on Venezuela's state
and society includes:
A military coup
A lockout by the
executives of the Venezuelan oil company
The exercise of
global U.S. power-organized political pressure via clients
and allies in Europe, South and North America
economic sanctions between 2013-2019
Sabotage of the
entire electrical system between 2017-2019
Hoarding of goods
via corporations and distributors from 2014-2019
military and civilian institutions 2002-2019
alliances to expel Venezuelan membership from regional
sanctions accompanied by the seizure of over $10 billion
dollars of assets
Sanctions on the
The U.S. direct
intervention includes the selection and appointment of opposition
leaders and 'dummy' representatives overseas.
In brief the U.S. has engaged in a sustained, two decades struggle
designed to bring down the Venezuelan government. It combines
economic, military, social and media warfare.
The U.S. strategy has
reduced living standards, undermined economic activity, increased
poverty, forced immigration and increaser criminality.
Despite the exercise of
U.S. global power, it has failed to dislodge the government and
impose a client regime.
Despite the two decades of pressure by the world's biggest imperial
power, which bears responsibility for the world's highest rate of
inflation, and despite the illegal seizure of billions of dollars of
Venezuelan assets, the people remain loyal, in defense of their
The reasons are clear and
The Venezuelan majority has a history of poverty, marginalization
and repression, including the bloody massacre of thousands of
protestors in 1989. Millions lived in shanty towns, excluded from
higher education and health facilities.
The U.S. provided arms
and advisers to buttress the politicians who now form the greater
part of the U.S. opposition to President Maduro.
alliance extracted billions of dollars from contracts from the oil
Remembrance of this reactionary legacy is one powerful reason why
the vast majority of Venezuelans oppose U.S. intervention in support
of the puppet opposition.
The second reason for the defeat of the U.S. is the long-term
large-scale military support of the Chavez-Maduro governments
.Former President Chavez instilled a powerful sense of nationalist
loyalty among the military which resists and opposes U.S. efforts to
subvert the soldiers.
The popular roots of Presidents Chavez and Maduro
resonate with the masses who hate the opposition elites which
despise the so-called 'deplorables'.
Chavez and Maduro
installed dignity and respect among the poor.
The Venezuelans government defeated the U.S.-backed coups and
lockouts, these victories encouraged the belief that the popular
government could resist and defeat the U.S.-oligarch opposition.
Victories strengthened confidence in the will of the people.
over two million
modern houses were built for the shanty town dwellers
over two dozen
universities and educational centers were built for the
poor, all free of charge
and clinics were built in poor neighborhoods
supermarkets were built which supplied low-cost food and
other necessities which sustain living standards despite
Chavez led the formation
of the Socialist Party which mobilized and gave voice to the mass of
the poor and facilitated representation.
organized to confront corruption, bureaucracy and criminality.
Together with popular militias, the community councils ensured
security against CIA fomented terror and destruction.
Land reform and the nationalization of some mines and factories
secured peasant and workers support - even if they were divided by
The cumulative socio-economic benefits consolidate support for the
Venezuelan leadership despite the hardships the U.S. induces in
The mass of the people
have gained a new life and have a lot to lose if the U.S.- oligarchy
returns to power. A successful U.S. coup will likely massacre tens
of thousands of popular supporters of the government.
The bourgeoisie will take
its revenge on those many who have ruled and benefited at the
expense of the rich.
There are important lessons to be learned from the long-term
large-scale successful resistance of the Venezuelan government's
experience but also its limitations.
Venezuela, early on, secured the loyalty of the army. That's why the
Chavista government has endured over 30 years while
the Chilean government of Salvador Allende was overthrown
in three years.
The Venezuelan government retained mass electoral support because of
the deep socio-economic changes that entrenched mass support in
contrast to the center-left regimes in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador
which won three elections but were defeated by their right-wing
opponents, including electoral partners, with a downturn in the
economy, and the flight of middle-class voters and parties.
Venezuela's linkages with allies in
China and Cuba provided 'life
jackets' of economic and military support in the face of U.S.
interventions, something the center-left governments failed to
Venezuela built regional alliances with nearly half of South
America, weakening U.S. attempts to form a regional or U.S. invasion
Despite their strategic successes the Venezuelan government has
committed several costly mistakes which increased vulnerability:
diversify their exports, markets and banking system. The
U.S. sanctions exploited these weaknesses.
Failure to carry
out monetary reforms to reverse or contain hyperinflation.
maintain the hydro-electrical system and secure it from
Failure to invest
in and recruit new technical professional to upgrade the
operation of the financial system and prosecute financial
corruption in the banking system. Venezuela worked with high
officials who engaged in financial and real estate
transactions of a dubious nature.
recruit and train working class and professional political
cadres capable of oversight over management.
Venezuela has taken steps
to rectify these errors. but the question is whether they have time
and place to realize radical reforms...