Comment: USA and Venezuelan Right aiming for ‘regime change’

The right has launched a new campaign to oust Maduro, while Obama has renewed an executive order condemning Venezuela as an 'extraordinary threat'


Last week, Venezuela’s right wing opposition launched a new campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power, including by calling for his immediate resignation. The last campaign to oust the elected, constitutional President led to a wave of violence in 2014.

‘We call on the entire Venezuelan people in order to force Maduro to resign as the President of the country,’ the Executive Secretary of the Democratic Unity coalition Jesus Torrealba told reporters as the right-wing opposition confirmed their perspective.

Torrealba also called on Venezuelans to take to the streets to demand Maduro’s resignation.

Responding to the right wing, the Socialist Party’s Diosdado Cabello (former National Assembly head) said: ‘They want to organise street rallies to generate violence and bring about a coup, supported by the U.S.’

His latter point was given more credence – when just days before the Venezuelan right wing confirmed their ousting campaign – President Barack Obama renewed an executive order issued last March that declared Venezuela ‘an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.’

The order allows the U.S. government to impose sanctions on Venezuela. Its renewal was announced by the President in a letter to congressional leaders, which claimed that alleged conditions that first prompted the order had ‘not improved.’

When the executive order was first issued by Obama in March 2015, leaders from throughout the region condemned the decree and massive mobilisations took place in Venezuela against the U.S intervention.

Obama eventually responded to this by seemingly admitting that Venezuela ‘does not pose a threat’ to the United States in an interview with the EFE press agency, but his actions this week would suggest that the US is still strongly backing ‘regime change’ in Venezuela.

Already, this time around, the nations of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and UNASUR (United Nations of South America) have again strongly criticised Obama’s move to renew the Executive Order.

It is true that Venezuela faces many problems, not least in terms of its economic difficulties – which are being exacerbated both by a conscious economic war – with echoes of the situation in Chile prior to the 1973 coup that brought General Pinochet to power, and the plunge in world oil prices.

But the right’s programme of vicious neoliberalism (illustrated by their proposals for the mass sell-off of housing) will only make these worse, whist reversing the gains represented by reduced poverty and inequality, plus increased labour rights, in recent years.

Throughout the labour and trade union movement, there is a collective memory of the awful developments that followed the overthrow of both Allende in Chile in the 1970s and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

We need to remain vigilant and echo the views of Latin America in opposing external intervention in Venezuela and the regime change it aims for.

Tony Burke is Unite Assistant General Secretary and Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Vice-Chair

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7 Responses to “Comment: USA and Venezuelan Right aiming for ‘regime change’”

  1. Chester Draws

    I trust that Left Food Forward takes the same view to the external backing of the overthrow of right wing regimes. That you, for example, thought that charging Pinochet in England was a gross violation of Chile’s self-determination in political matters.

    Venezuela is an economic mess, caused by a regime that is self-serving and incompetent. That they are left-wing doesn’t make that OK. If you don’t want the right wing taking charge, then support a decent left-wing opposition from inside Venezuala. There isn’t much of one, of course, because the Venezuelan government isn’t interested in any real opposition, so have crushed it by extra-legal means. But it’s no more reasonable for us to support Maduro, because he’s nominally on “our” side than it was for Thatcher to support Pinochet.

    The unsupportable should not be supported.

  2. Mike

    Well said Chester…Exactly…please don’t let ideology get in the way of reality.

  3. Fred White

    Firstly Torrealba who is the current leader of the opposition is an ex member of the Communist Party and politically is more Left Wing than the majority of the PSUV.
    Secondly the Marea Socialista who were to the Left of the PSUV have split from the G government and have asked that Maduro should stand down . Lastly I find it strange that a Union leader should support a Government that has used the National Guard to break up official strikes.

  4. Fred white

    Firstly the current leader of the opposition Torrealba was a a former member of the Communist party and politically is probably further left than most of the PSUV. Secondly the Marea Socialista party who were on the Left of the PSUV have recently joined in calls for Maduro to step down. Lastly I find it astounding that a Unionist can support a government that uses the National Guard to break up Official strikes.

  5. Imran Khan

    Its necessary to understand that for the UK left there are certain things that are self evident truths whatever the evidence against them. One is that anything the US does is wrong.

  6. Joe Sammut

    Great article, given the overwhelmingly badly informed and hostile coverage of Venezuela in much of the press it is great to see Left Foot Forward publish a piece that challenges that narrative. I know you’re not meant to ‘feed the trolls’ but I’ll bite:
    (1) there is a colossal difference between a President elected in elections regarded as free and fair by all neutral observers (including the Carter Center) to a General that took power in a bloody coup.
    (2) Torrealba may be an ex-communist in his youth, so are many people on the right (look at ex-SWP Peter Hitchens). He has long since been on the right, and is even named in the embassy cables as an informant to the US embassy. While sections of the Venezuelan right have adopted some social democratic discourse, they are many of the same people who advocated neoliberalism in the 1990s and their record in the states they control is poor – running down services and weakening the social programmes.
    (3) Marea Socialista are a relatively small trotskyist grouping that recently left the PSUV, they have long held a policy to critically support the government. While they have been more critical of late, it is practically inconceivable to see them support the opposition over the government when it counts (i.e. in the next general election or in a recall election).
    (4) To my knowledge, the only time the national guard was called to put down a strike it was done under the orders of the governor, was condemned by Venezuelan central government, who also soon after fulfilled the demand of the strikers by nationalizing the industry. While it may have happened at other times it is important to not make the mistake of thinking that the Venezuelan state is a monolith (actually in many ways it is very weak – see the difficulties they have enforcing their economic rules). Just as not everything that goes wrong in the UK is the fault of the PM, nor is every problem in Venezuela the fault of President Maduro.

  7. Fred white

    Agree that not everything that bad that happens can always be blamed on the PM/President however when he makes a speech saying that he has authorised the National Guard to use whatever force is necessary and the next day they go in with tear gas and shotguns one must point the finger in his direction. As for Torrealba he may no longer be a member of the Communist party but in his views he is still far closer to Tony Benn than Tony Blair. You are correct in saying that the Marea Socialista party is a small Trotskyist party, but it shows that it is not just the Right Wing who is trying to get rid of Maduro, a broad spectrum of political beliefs are aligned against him.

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