Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.
There was a time not long ago when ‘Venezuela’ referred to the epicentre of a new revolutionary dynamic. Election after election – all validated by international authorities – showed that the people of the country wanted to take control of their resources and build a country for themselves and not for big corporations. Hugo Chávez, with his immense charisma, understood that it was not enough to build socialism inside one country; the region had to be drawn into the new dynamic.
Building from the legacy of Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), Chávez inspired millions of people across Latin America – what is called Patria Grande (‘The Great Homeland’) or Nuestra América (‘Our America’)– to join in the Bolivarian Revolution. There could be no solution to the immense problems of Latin America if each country in the region remained beholden to and dependent on the United States of America, Europe, and Canada. If each country remained isolated, every country would remain weak. Unity was the central phrase, which is why hemispheric regionalism was essential. Caracas was the capital of this Nuestra América, a phrase made famous by the Cuban poet and radical José Martí (1853-1895).
The Bolivarian Revolution, with its promise of regional solidarity and social development, threatened the owners of multinational corporations, those who saw themselves as the rightful inheritors of the earth. Canadian billionaire Peter Munk, who owned Barrick Gold, wrote of Chávez that he was a ‘dangerous dictator’; Munk compared Chávez to Hitler and called for Chávez to be overthrown. This was in 2007. That was twelve years ago. The plot to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution does not emerge from any particular crisis inside Venezuela nor from any problem created by current President Nicolás Maduro. The real problem with Venezuela was—and is— the threat posed by a leadership that stands firmly against the suffocation of the country by multinational corporations; it is the problem posed by a country that attempts to produce a new path for a population that has long been mired in poverty despite its resource wealth. The meaning of ‘Venezuela’ had to change. It could no longer mean the promise of revolution. It could only mean dangerous chaos.
George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump – the three US presidents in the White House during the time of the Bolivarian Revolution – have in their own way attempted to overthrow Chávez and then Maduro. None of them have succeeded. The urgency for their action mimics that of the years before the 1973 coup in Santiago (Chile), when US Ambassador Edward Korry wrote scathingly about Chile’s right-wing ‘that blindly and greedily pursued its interests, wandering in a myopia of arrogant stupidity’. This defines the current Venezuelan Right. Then, Korry wrote, because the Right is so ‘stupid’, ‘lamentably the US will have to move faster’ – the US will have to do what the Right was not be able to do on behalf of the United States.