Proof once again that Obama’s presidency is really just a continuation of George W. Bush’s second term comes from Uncle Sam’s latest attempted putsch in Venezuela. Jon Schwarz makes an insightful observation about how the elites in this country think. Namely, that for them, the scariest thing in the world is an “uppity” dark-skinned person looking to better their lot in life:
In 1919, Woodrow Wilson was deeply concerned that bolshevism was inspiring “negro laundresses” to ask for a raise
Now there’s something even scarier: A duly elected government that aids those poor, downtrodden folk in a way that might cause inconvenience for the rich. That is why The Village had such a throbbing hard-on to get rid of Hugo Chavez, and now sports wood at the thought of overthrowing Nicolas Maduro, his successor. For all the concern-trolling about crime and mistreatment of reporters, what really cause the Villagers’ gorges to rise is the sharp drop in infant mortality, the new schools, the free doctors and so on -all of which will be taken away and replaced by U.S.-trained death squads if Maduro is overthrown.
That is why Daily Beast, a part of the foundering Newsweek prison hulk adrift in a sea of mendacity, offers up crap like this article by Michael Moynihan, which I took the liberty of responding to point by fatuous point:
At the southernmost point of Central Park, on a small strip of sidewalk abutting 59th Street, hundreds of Venezuelans swarmed a statue of Simon Bolivar, the Caracas-born liberator of South America and a figure now most commonly associated with the bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chavez and his rechristened Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. But it’s an association that when mentioned in this crowd produces furrowed brows and narrowed eyes, quickly followed by a rapid-fire recapitulation of Chavez’s many crimes.
Well that’s to be expected when “this crowd” is made up of groupies for the pre-Chavez oligarchy. And Chavez’s “many crimes” consist of what, exactly?
The necessary symbolism of the meeting point trumped practicality: the crowd quickly swelled, spreading like an inkblot from the small patch surrounding Bolivar into a lane of midtown Manhattan traffic. They banged pots. They shouted slogans about the Cubanization of their patria, from which many are exiled. They carried signs detailing spiraling crime rates (23,000 murders last year), many plastered with grim photos of those abused and murdered, and others with mordant slogans (“In Venezuela everything is scarce, except bullets”).
We are far from the bloody streets of Caracas; these protesters are ringed not by heavily armed and body-armoured National Guardsman, but are politely attended to by a handful of paunchy and bored New York City cops. There was no threat of violence here–with the single exception of a slobbering, toothless, and possibly blotto Spanish speaker who, while ambling past the crowd, shouted something that drew the ire–and very nearly the flying fists–of a man with a large Venezuelan flag tied around his neck–the anti-Chavez superhero.
So the NYPD doesn’t show much interest in a bunch of expatriate Venezuelan right-wingers. What a shocker! But that’s to be expected since the NYPD is paid to keep order in New York, not Venezuela. I’m sure that if this gaggle of troublemakers had supported the violent overthrow of the U.S. government like they did the lawfully elected government in their own country, the NYPD would’ve crushed them. Just ask the Occupy protestors what happens when the NYPD gets the idea that you’re a threat to the powers that be.
Oh, and nice Freudian slip about these dimwit fascists: Someone makes a catcall at a crowd (it’s New York, after all) and the response is barely suppressed hooligan violence. I don’t know what’s funnier: The sad loser with a Venezuelan flag around his neck wanting to punch somebody, or the sad loser who wrote this article calling him a “superhero”. The bit about the guy being slobbering and toothless is a nice touch. Nothing like looking down one’s nose at someone over their lack of dental care.
It was unclear what the slurring Chavista provocateur said, but surely, I told a woman next to me, it was a case of commitment to alcohol consumption and not commitment to revolution. But one had to admit, I continued, that many outside of Venezuela, including a small segment of the media, have fallen for the crude propaganda oozing out of Miraflores Palace. All over the internet, one finds a seemingly inexhaustible supply of useful idiots and Sandinista nostalgists willing to contextualize the disastrous Bolivarian Revolution.
No, they just aren’t buying the horseshit you’re shoveling. Just because people have the good sense to be skeptical of the agitprop coming from the crowd that supported one armed coup and is actively trying to incite another doesn’t mean they have any great love for the legitimately elected government.
One would think such fellow travelling had died with Chavez.
One would have thought the oligarchs and their camp followers’ dreams of overthrowing the government would have fizzled with their botched coup twelve years ago. Oh well.
Another failed evolution failed, another utopia unarmed. But one would be astoundingly wrong. I haven’t the time or the stomach to offer a full accounting of Western apologists for Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro, but a few recent examples should give a sense of the rot. A writer at Al Jazeera, Belen Fernandez, denounced the recent appearance of the “elite right-wing Caracas blogger Emiliana Duarte” on the Qatari network, blasting her for “launch[ing] into a sob story about having to visit 10 different supermarkets the previous year during a quest to bake a cake.” Duarte was merely cataloging the massive shortages of basic goods (rice, milk, toilet paper) that have crippled Venezuela in recent years, not engaging in a bourgeois, fascist bakeoff.
If Ms. Duarte is so concerned about the economic conditions, why didn’t she speak up about the two-month lockout and general strike that dropped the GDP by almost a third? Because it might embarrass her media flacks (like the hacks writing for The Daily Beast), or that she never cared whether goods are available to the poor, perhaps? There’s something truly smarmy about this kind of concern-trolling. If the Maduro government is ever overthrown, I’m sure the shelves will be fully stocked within 24 hours. Of course, the poor won’t be able to buy any of it because Caprilies, Lopez and their backers will make damn sure to cut off the meager government aid they get now. Right-wingers are always in favor of using guns, prisons and nooses to keep the lower orders in line, rather than medicine, education, jobs, etc.
The benignly named Washington think tank Council on Hemispheric Affairs, whose “experts” are frequently quoted in the mainstream media, blared on its homepage “Venezuelan Government Shows Restraint and Resolve in the Face of Anti-Chavista Mayhem.” Over at the Huffington Post, a self-identified “human rights lawyer” lamented that “without irony, the media fulminates about Venezuela’s alleged lack of democracy…to justify its open support of Venezuela’s elite opposition.” He then credulously quoties a Chavez loyalist’s assessment that the “Venezuelan economy is doing very well,” despite the empty shelves, capital flight, and runaway inflation.
A pro-Chavez academic writing in The Nation argued that the massive street demonstrations across the country “have far more to do with returning economic and political elites to power than with their downfall.” The Guardian headlined a news story: “Venezuela’s hardliner reappears as Nicolas Maduro expels US officials.” That hardliner wasn’t Maduro, whose government is arresting regime opponents and strangling the free press, but Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader currently languishing in jail. Flip over to the Guardian’s editorial for the bizarre excoriation of President Obama for his supposed “support for regime change in Venezuela.”
I notice how this writer tries to change the subject. Whether the shelves are empty or full doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. government is once again neck deep in attempting to overthrow a lawfully elected government. Nice job of conceding the point.
It’s a thought experiment I often present to the Western Chavista, one that usually ends up demonstrating that sympathizers of the regime, both in this country and in Europe, have something of a colonialist attitude towards Venezuela. Because one wonders the reaction of these faux progressives if Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel–pick your the imperialist lackey!–arrested an opposition leader who had organized peaceful street protests? Or if the CIA shut off the internet in politically restive cities like Berkeley and Brooklyn; blocked Twitter traffic it found politically suspect; and took over PBS, forcing it to broadcast only pro-administration agitprop, never allowing the opposition party to traduce the government across public airwaves? Or if the president forced the removal of BBC America from all cable providers for being too anti-American?
- Just because someone doesn’t back a coup against a legitimately elected government like Venezuela’s doesn’t make them a “Chavista”, any more than not backing a coup against the Canadian government makes a person a “Harperist”.
- Leopoldo Lopez isn’t a “dissident”, he was a backer of the 2002 coup and one of the instigators of the latest attempted putsch. If you want a closer analogy, look what happened to Anwar Al-Awlaki -a man who repeatedly advocated for violent action against against the U.S. government. Not only was he burned alive by a Hellfire missile, but his teenage son was also targeted and incinerated. Lopez faces ten years in the slammer for inciting mob violence that has killed dozens. Boo hoo.
- Don’t think for a moment that if the powers that be in the U.S. or anywhere else felt threatened, they wouldn’t do exponentially worse than anything Maduro could come up with. Maduro’s government isn’t even as ruthless as Carlos Andrés Pérez’s, which gunned down over 3000 protestors/rioters in 1989. Of course if Chavez or Maduro had hired more police, sent in the army to impose order and so on, the Michael Moynihans would’ve squealed like Ned Beatty in Deliverance that Venezuela languishes under a mailed fist.
- Nothing Chavez or Maduro have done to the media compares to the sheer thuggery of the U.S. Government, which has imprisoned, tortured, shot and blown journalists to bits.
Perhaps reactions would be muted if motorcycle gangs loyal to President George W. Bush circled anti-Iraq War protests physically attacking–and occasionally murdering–demonstrators. How about if a judge ruled against President Obama’s domestic spying apparatus and, in return, the White House ordered that judge thrown in prison? How long would an American president be allowed to run up massive inflation, despite massive oil revenues coming into government coffers? How long would it be considered reasonable–and not the president’s responsibility–to preside over 23,000 murders in a country of just under 30 million people, a rate that would horrify the average resident of Baghdad? How long could supermarket shelves remain bare of basic staples like bread and milk before The Nation or The Guardian would gleefully decide that America was a failed, kleptocratic state? Or if Bush or Obama’s economic policies meant that toilet paper could no longer be found on the open market?
What an intellectually dishonest pile of horseshit! Lefties of all kinds are willing to criticize any state for oppressive and incompetent acts. What most of them aren’t willing to do is make the absurd leap in logic that since inflation is high that full-scale insurrection is called for. That’s Tea Bagger/Ku Kluxer/Gun Nut territory.
So I ask a rather straight-forward question to those who pretend to care about the Venezuelan people (much like those who miraculously lost interest in the Vietnamese people after 1975 or the Nicaraguan people after 1990), those who care so deeply for the poor and destitute in Latin America: Why the double standard?
There’s no double standard at all. Unlike George W. Bush, Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro were duly elected, not installed by a corrupt Supreme Court. They did not create an international kidnapping and torture ring, they did not invade other countries and commit countless ghoulish atrocities, did not try to overthrow lawfully elected heads of state, etc, etc…
The point is that vile as the Bush regime was, I can’t imagine anyone on the Left calling for the government to be toppled and replaced by a foreign-backed junta.
Michael Moynihan’s concern-trolling needs more work. If anyone has a colonialist attitude towards Venezuela, it’s those in the U.S. who think they are better suited to choosing the leaders of that country than the voters who actually live there.