Protest, dissent and the destructive terror of war are obviously very distinct forms of expressing opposition and bringing about change. The Obama-Kerry regime support the opposition in Venezuela as a ‘protest movement’ composed of ‘peaceful democratic opponents’ expressing their discontent with economic conditions, while they denounce the democratically-elected Maduro Administration as an ‘authoritarian regime’ violently repressing legitimate dissent. Washington disingenuously claims to have played no part in the actions of the Venezuelan opposition and that its pronouncements are merely directed at promoting democratic freedoms.
The overwhelming evidence show that the Venezuelan opposition has engaged in prolonged and extensive violence, including terrorist acts, assassinations, arson, and destruction of public property. Most recently this includes the murder of military officers and civilian supporters of the government. Widely circulated photographs, even in Washington-controlled media outlets, show opposition activists throwing Molotov cocktails at police and counter-demonstrators and building barricades for bloody street confrontations.<class="bmore">
The Obama-Kerry Administration denies any involvement in the ongoing violence while unconditionally defending the opposition gangs of thugs. At the same time it demonizes every legitimate government action to defend its citizens, uphold the Constitution and enforce internationally recognized norms of law and order. The Obama-Kerry regime’s political intervention and its escalating rhetoric is designed to incite the opposition to further violent activity in order to destabilize the country for ‘regime change’.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s vitriolic rhetoric is timed to counter the recent ebb of opposition activity, assuring the opposition that Washington supports its campaign of ‘warfare in the streets’. President Obama’s propaganda, the regime’s economic sanctions and the channeling of financial and military resources to the violent opposition groups is designed to reinvigorate the campaign of terror and sabotage against the Venezuelan government. The Kerry- Obama sanctions and their war of words provide external support for violent terrorists operating inside Venezuela.
Kerry-Obama Rely on the Big Lie
Secretary of State Kerry’s accusation that the Venezuelan government is conducting a ‘campaign of terror’ against the peaceful opposition is a naked lie: The Bolivarian government, which had been the target of two months of street violence sabotage, is itself accused of the crimes committed by the US-backed proxy opposition. This is a favorite ploy of the empire in preparing the ground for ‘regime change’. Washington is intent on the violent overthrow of a democratic government and the establishment of another satellite regime in Latin America.
Washington’s proxy terrorist power grab is evident everywhere. The opposition is openly authoritarian in its demands. It raises economic and social issues as pretexts to undermine of the democratic, constitutional government by force and violence. They seek to weaken the government and have no interest in negotiations or signing any agreement on specific sets of issues. Government offers to meet and establish dialog have been rejected outright. Each government concession has been exploited as a sign of weakness. When the government released dozens of thugs arrested for throwing Molotov fire-bombs, they returned to the streets to burn more property and attack the police.
The opposition has been given every chance to win over Venezuela’s voters in dozens of Presidential, state and local elections. Refusing to accept the will of the majority in lawful elections, they have launched their violent assaults to undermine the people’s rule. Opposition mayors have worked with street thugs who block normal commerce while assaulting individual supporters of the national government.
The opposition has accumulated vast stores of arms and munitions in preparation for an armed uprising. It has trained snipers to assassinate military and police officers upholding the rule of law and have attacked municipal workers and citizen volunteers engaged in clearing streets of debris.
In terms of means, goals and ideology the opposition fits the description of an imperial-financed terrorist minority organized to seize power, destroy majority rule and impose an autocratic dictatorship which would serve as a proxy for US imperial power.
Democratic Politics or Terrorist Putsch ?
In the 8 weeks up to March 15, 2014, the terrorist opposition committed 500 violent actions throughout the country. At least 68 members of the Venezuelan National Guard have been injured, shot, or killed by Secretary Kerry’s “democratic protestors”. On May 13, government officials were attacked with high powered rifle fire and seven snipers were arrested with arms and explosives. Paramilitary terrorists have been openly trained and housed at two or more elite universities (Carabobo University and UCV in Caracas). Phony claims of “autonomy” have been used to shield the fact that these privileged campuses are used to stockpile weapons, set up training bases and shelter for paramilitary gangs and snipers.
The economic impact is immense: Business revenues, salaries and wage losses run in the tens of millions. Sniper fire has prevented civil servants, pro-government workers and ordinary citizens from shopping, going to work and participating in pro-government counter demonstrations. The terrorists have sown fear and insecurity, primarily in middle class neighborhoods where they mostly operate – not daring to enter the militant poor and working class barrios.
The government is seen by the masses as extraordinarily tolerant (or excessively conciliatory) in their dealings with these violent opposition gangs, considering the scope and depth of mayhem: As of March 15, only 105 street thugs out the 1,529 violent demonstrators arrested remain in jail facing charges.
Many concerned Venezuelan and international democrats and experts on terrorism believe the Maduro government’s restraint has given the terrorists plenty of time and opportunity to arm, recruit and distribute US funds channeled through phony NGO’s, in preparation for even bigger and more destructive acts of terror, such as bombing bridges, power stations and clinics, as well as assassinating top civilian and military officials. Their assessment of the Maduro government’s security policy is that it is too narrowly focused on the ‘lowest level’ of activists – those caught with Molotov cocktails or engaged in other acts of violence – rather than the political and financial networks which extend deep into the major opposition political parties and business elite who provide funding, political cover and ideological justifications for the growing war of terror against ordinary Venezuelan citizens. Moreover, the ‘revolving door’ judicial system simply emboldens the thugs and saboteurs -- since a day in jail is a very small price for having blown up a community health center or engulfed a National Guardsman in flames.
The government, in its efforts to secure agreements with a section of the opposition, appears to have tied the hands of its security forces: small groups of National Guardsmen have become especially vulnerable to acts of terror from thugs protected by highly-placed opposition political leaders.
In the past two months over a thousand public buildings have been destroyed or damaged, mostly fire-bombed by what US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “democratic and peaceful opposition”. Most of the arson is directed at buildings closely associated with the government’s popular and effective social welfare programs. These include neighborhood centers for adult education and training; free public medical and dental clinics; public banks providing low interest loans for micro-economic projects; primary and secondary public schools in poor neighborhoods; publicly-owned food-stores providing subsidized food and groceries as well as the trucks carrying subsidized food and essential goods to working-class neighborhoods; public transportation, municipal sanitary workers, community radio stations, pro-government media centers and local Socialist Party headquarters.
Recently large scale caches of arms, including automatic rifles and mortars were discovered in the underground parking lot owned by an opposition-controlled municipality. Another cache of 2,000 mortars and other weapons were found in the opposition stronghold, Táchira State, which borders Colombia, across which arms, drugs and mercenaries enter freely. Many of the National Guardsmen injured were shot by opposition snipers. On March 16, a National Guard captain was assassinated by a sniper shooting from a high rise apartment. The assassin was captured and turned out to be a Chinese mercenary hired by the opposition and part of a para-military hit team
Kerry-Obama’s claim that the protestors are mostly peaceful students is refuted by the fact that nearly two-thirds (971) of the total arrestees (1,529) are not students; many are self-styled street fighters receiving outside material support and funds.
Kerry’s claim that the US is ‘not involved’ and the State Department’s ludicrous effort to portray Venezuela’s charges of US intervention as “paranoia” have been refuted by official US documents showing a continuous annual flow of tens of millions of dollars to opposition organizations linked to the terror networks, including $15 million disbursed during the first two months of this year. The even greater extent of ‘covert’ material aid, including weapons, is unknown.
Top security experts knowledgeable about the subject of external funding for destabilization and terrorism, have reviewed the scope and depth of the ongoing damage and casualties in Venezuela. They have urged the Maduro government to allow the loyal Venezuelan armed forces to participate in quelling the violence. Their recommendations include a declaration of martial law and military sweeps into opposition strongholds to round-up and disarm the violent street thugs and terrorists; unlimited detention, pending trials, for suspected snipers and arsonists and military trials for those suspected of murdering soldiers, police and guardsmen. Opposition mayors, governors and university officials who have provided sanctuaries, training bases, funds and arms to the mercenaries should no longer be immune from prosecution. In recognition of the recent huge demonstrations by ordinary citizens and soldiers supporting a greater role for the Venezuelan Armed Forces and demanding firmer measures to end terror, President Maduro issued an ultimatum to the opposition to end their violence or face the full force of the state.
In addressing the Kerry-Obama regime, President Maduro, once again, demanded it stop aiding the violent opposition and denounced Washington’s threats to further undermine the Venezuelan economy with trade sanctions. He has called on Washington to join a tri-partite commission, including top representatives from the US, Venezuela and the Union of South American states (UNASUR), to discuss peace and sovereignty. While UNASUR is willing to support Maduro’s proposal for dialogue and his peace initiative, US Secretary of State Kerry is moving ahead with economic sanctions against Caracas in support of the US terror war by proxy.
The time for political conciliation is running out: the Venezuelan Armed Forces may finally be given their chance to end this imperial war by proxy.
Hopefully, the arm-chair revolutionaries and chattering classes in North America and Europe, who have been so quick to criticize the Venezuelan government, will set aside their ‘reservations’ and organize a solidarity movement to protest the Kerry- Obama imperial war by proxy against Venezuelan democracy. To date they have spent too much time in internet chatter and not enough time in the streets.
James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, Temps Moderne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet. His most recent books are: The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack (Clarity Press 2012) 2nd edition, The Power of Israel in the United States and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants, (acquired for Japanese, German, Italian, Indonesian, Czech and Arabic editions), Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power, Global Depression and Regional Wars: The United States, Latin America and the Middle East, and War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America. He has a long history of commitment to social justice, working in particular with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement for 11 years. In 1973-76 he was a member of the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Repression in Latin America. He writes a monthly column for the Mexican newspaper, Le Jornada, and previously, for the Spanish daily, El Mundo. He received his B.A. from Boston University and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.