News Release

U.S and Venezuela: Who’s the Security Threat?


Reuters reports: “The United States on Monday declared Venezuela a national security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials from the oil-rich country in the worst bilateral diplomatic dispute since socialist President Nicolas Maduro took office in 2013.”

Tinker Salas is author of Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know, which will be released next month. He is professor of history and Latin American studies at Pomona College; his previous books include The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela.

He recently wrote the piece “Mexico and Venezuela: A Study in U.S. Bias,” which states: “The government of President Nicolás Maduro is depicted as losing popular support and purportedly relying on repression to stay in power. Meanwhile, in Mexico — where, according to a recent study, thirteen Mexicans disappear every day, and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has violently repressed public protests — Washington and the U.S. media have remained largely silent.”

Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Beeton is the group’s international communications director. Weisbrot just wrote the article “Obama Absurdly Declares Venezuela a Security Threat,” which states: “Yesterday the White House took a new step toward the theater of the absurd by ‘declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela,’ as President Barack Obama put it in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.

“It remains to be seen whether anyone in the White House press corps will have the courage to ask what in the world the nation’s chief executive could mean by that. Is Venezuela financing a coming terrorist attack on U.S. territory? Planning an invasion? Building a nuclear weapon?

“Who do they think they are kidding? Some may say that the language is just there because it is necessary under U.S. law in order to impose the latest round of sanctions on Venezuela. That is not much of a defense, telling the whole world the rule of law in the United States is something to be skirted around whenever the president decides it’s inconvenient.

“That was the approach of President Ronald Reagan in 1985 when he made a similar declaration in order to impose sanctions — including an economic embargo — on Nicaragua. Like the White House today, he was trying to topple an elected government that Washington didn’t like. He was able to use paramilitary and terrorist violence as well as an embargo in a successful effort to destroy the Nicaraguan economy and ultimately overturn its government. …

“The world has moved forward, even though Washington has not. Venezuela today has very strong backing from its neighbors against what almost every government in the region sees as an attempt to destabilize the country.

“’The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) reiterates its strong repudiation of the application of unilateral coercive measures that are contrary to international law,’ read a statement from every country in the hemisphere except for the U.S. and Canada on Feb. 11. They were responding to the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela that Obama signed into law in December.

“Didn’t read any of this in the English-language media? Well, you probably also didn’t see the immediate reaction to yesterday’s White House blunder from the head of the Union of South American Nations, which read, ‘UNASUR rejects any external or internal attempt at interference that seeks to disrupt the democratic process in Venezuela.’

“Washington was involved in the short-lived 2002 military coup in Venezuela; it ‘provided training, institution building and other support to individuals and organizations understood to be actively involved in the brief ouster’ of President Hugo Chávez and his government, according to the U.S. State Department. The U.S. has not changed its policy toward Venezuela since then and has continued funding opposition groups in the country. …

“The Venezuelan government has produced some credible evidence of a coup in the making: the recording of a former deputy minister of the interior reading what is obviously a communique to be issued after the military deposes the elected government, the confessions of some accused military officers and a recorded phone conversation between opposition leaders acknowledging that a coup is in the works.”