A classic case of CIA subversion
Why is Juan Guaidó still at liberty? Paul Demarty diagnoses the lack of revolutionary backbone
Let us do a little thought experiment. Imagine that, tomorrow morning, Jeremy Corbyn calls a press conference. At that conference, he declares himself - in the light of the total inability of the May administration to govern - prime minister. When Her Majesty declines to offer him the job formally, he demands that the government of (why not?) Russia militarily intervene to place him in the top job.
What would happen to Islington’s best-known allotment keeper? We probably have an idea - he would be hurled in jail. This is a rather better outcome than would have awaited him as late as the 19th century, where those convicted of high treason were hung, drawn and quartered; or even of William ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ Joyce, the last person to be so convicted, who was hanged after the war. But, suffice it to say, our would-be PM would find himself separated from his crop of runner beans for a goodly long time.
Why in the name of god, then, is Juan Guaidó at liberty? Having declared himself president, he set himself openly on the path of overthrowing the Venezuelan constitution, taking a country already under severe economic pressure further into crisis. Though the gambit has yet to succeed fully, he has at least accomplished a great feat in bringing hostile foreign powers back into actively pursuing the overthrow of the ‘Bolivarian’ regime. Donald Trump and his flunkies are busy tying a noose for Nicolás Maduro; Guaidó cheers them on, enthusiastically and obsequiously. By rights, he should be in the filthiest oubliette in Caracas.
What has been set in motion, then, is so much a textbook CIA/state department operation that it is almost enough to make one nostalgic. The target regime is first destabilised; economic chaos leads to riots; opposition parties become more hostile; the story ends, very often, with the army stepping in to form a government of ‘national salvation’.
We continue to work our way through the gears, then. A new flashpoint was reached with the supposed aid convoys that piled up on Venezuela’s borders with neighbouring hostile regimes, especially Colombia - whose government is the ‘peaceful’ offspring of the brutal rightwing paramilitary forces who fought the FARC leftwing guerrillas in that country’s civil war - and Brazil, whose new president, Jair Bolsonaro, should need no introduction. The aid, needless to say, was pure provocation; it is very hard to take mewling about food and medical shortages seriously when it comes from the same quarters that have engineered the problem through sanctions. Certainly that was the attitude of the Venezuelan government, which blockaded the convoys.
An extra note of absurdity was added to the proceedings by the bearded British parasite, Richard Branson, who decided he would have a charity pop concert on the Colombian side of the border; this was not quite so well attended as advertised, but did provide a convenient meeting spot for the representatives of various concerned regional powers - and Guaidó, of course - to conspire at the underlying aim. The pretend-president met Mike Pence, Trump’s deputy, on February 25: the inevitable result was fresh sanctions, but no military intervention … for now. Nevertheless, Pence continued to insist - even as regional and international allies grew uneasy about military intervention - that “no options are off the table”.
Fresh sanctions, of course, mean fresh suffering. Just about the only authentic thing about those aid convoys is that the need is genuine. Hundreds of thousands of people are abandoning the country; that few get farther afield than Colombia tells us that we are not merely talking about the middle classes here, who have always contained a violently anti-Chávez and anti-Maduro element, but people driven to destitution, as the economic situation deteriorates. Guaidó’s bromides about liberty, democracy and patriotism are thus especially disgusting - this self-appointed national saviour connives at starving his own people out, until they see the wisdom of choosing him to govern them.
Which brings us back to the question of Guaidó’s freedom, and Maduro’s prima facie insane refusal to order his arrest. For an answer, we may look to Guaidó’s speeches as the aid-convoy provocation played out on Saturday: “How many of you national guardsmen have a sick mother? How many have kids in school without food?” he said, standing in front of the piles of medicine and food kindly provided by the Unites States in the service of his political ambitions. And there’s the rub - the critical failure of the coup attempt is the absence of that most important of factors in a successful coup - a section of the military.
So far, the Venezuelan army has not challenged the Chávista project and - by extension - Maduro. But Maduro has not pushed his luck here. Though there were skirmishes between the security forces and rightist protestors on February 23 - skirmishes leaving a few people dead - there has not been a concerted effort to bring the situation under control by force. With the opposition boycotting elections and resorting to open sabotage, we are already in a situation where matters can only be settled by force or the threat of it. Either Maduro must be scared into resigning, or Guaidó must be scared into returning to ‘loyal’ opposition, or one or the other must be thrown in jail (or worse).
The fact that Maduro is shy of using force suggests fear on his part, and the one thing he has to fear is the possibility that the military’s loyalty will crack at some point. The Guaidó camp has exhibited great triumphalism at military defectors - way out of proportion to their trivial numbers and importance; but, for each one of them, there must be many more considering their positions, with sick mothers perhaps, or hungry children. Thus Guaidó needles at the edges of their discipline. Presumably the same worry prevents him from ordering the aid to be let in and confiscated immediately, with a detachment of guards walking the Yankees back to the border. Possession of large caches of aid will be useful to anyone who wants to play at politics, including national guard officers, junior and senior.
We know what lies at the end of this road, should it be taken - the old story, of Mossadegh and the shah in Iran, Allende and Pinochet in Chile, and countless other examples. The last stage of our textbook CIA operation is the least pleasant, and military coups shall inevitably be followed by beatings, torture and butchery. We are, in this country, currently watching Blairite creeps detach themselves from the Labour Party to avoid the humiliation of deselection - hopefully to wind up in some morally bankrupt regroupment of the ‘centre’. One of the chosen grounds for such traitors to walk - along with bogus anti-Semitism accusations and inveterate ‘remainism’ - is that Jeremy Corbyn has not joined Team Guaidó. These ‘moderates’ are, at best, dangerously cavalier about the possibility of a Venezuelan Pinochet regime, which ought to factor into any evaluation of their supposed moral courage.
Beyond the total reliance of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ on the goodwill of its military forces - albeit a military remade in Chávez’s image - the other lesson of this whole disaster is that the United States is in no immediate danger of losing its global hegemony. Western media mutter darkly about Maduro being propped up by the Russians and Chinese; but if that is the case they are obviously doing a terrible job. This is hardly surprising: in spite of the quite real competition between the US and these states, both are reliant on access to the global financial and commodities markets. America has the global reserve currency; and it has control, via its decreasingly hinged servants in Riyadh, of the oil taps. In the face of this, ‘Bolivarian’ Venezuela’s international sponsors are reduced to watching the beating from afar.
Donald Trump need pay them no mind, as he decides whether to deploy troops.