US increases the pressure on Venezuela

By Bridget Anderson

Under Donald Trump’s presidency US efforts to overthrow the Venezuela’s socialist revolution have been stepped up. US economic sanctions on Venezuela have been tightened, the right wing opposition continues to be funded with tens of millions of dollars and the US is pressing other Latin America countries to reduce their ties with and isolate Venezuela.

Last year Trump even proposed his foreign policy advisers consider a US invasion of Venezuela, but the US military does not favour such a direct confrontation at present.

Earlier this year the US backed another military coup attempt – that failed. Ahead of the Presidential election (in May 2018), dozens of captains, colonels and generals from Venezuela’s armed forces prepared to kidnap the democratically elected President Nicholas Maduro, with the aim of putting him on ‘trial’ and stopping him from running in the election. The plot was financed by the US and Colombia, but was foiled before it was carried out.

On June tour of Latin America, US Vice President Pence urged “all of our allies across the region to take steps to further isolate the Maduro regime.” He described Venezuela as “a failed state”, asserted that the US would “not stand idly by” and would work with other nations in the region “to see democracy restored.”

The victory of Ivan Duque, the more right wing pro-US candidate in June’s Presidential election, in Colombia is helping the US increase pressure on Venezuela. The President-Elect has announced that “we can’t have links with a government which we consider to be illegitimate”, and has vowed to not send an ambassador to Caracus when he takes office. Plus Colombia has recently announced it is joining NATO. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry responded to this latter announcement saying: “Venezuela denounces once more before the international community the intention of the Columbian authorities to lend themselves to introduce, in Latin America and the Caribbean, a foreign military alliance with nuclear capacity, which in every way constitutes a serious threat for peace and regional stability.”

The economic sanctions promoted by the US are causing major shortages of foodstuffs and medicine. These are imposed to ferment political instability.

An additional difficult facing Venezuela is a crisis in oil production. In 2016 Venezuela was producing 2.8 million of barrels of oil per day but this has now halved to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day. In May the US oil company ConocoPhillips seized oil refineries and storage facilities on Caribbean islands owned by the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, which is adversely impacting oil production. Venezuela continues to supply some oil to Cuba, which it is purchasing from outside of its own production.

Maduro’s government is resisting the US’s interventions. In elections it has continued to defeat the US sponsored right wing opposition and on the streets is able to contain their violent actions. Defending Venezuela’s revolution is important for humanity. In Britain people should support the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.