Venezuela Unrest: Is the US Involved?

by backing right-wing groups to oust an elected government?

Democracy Now

Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

HAVANA TIMES – In Venezuela, at least six people have died in recent days during a series of anti-government protests. The latest casualty was a local beauty queen died of a gunshot wound. The protests come less than a year after the death of Hugo Chávez and present the biggest challenge to Venezuela’s new president Nicolás Maduro.

Earlier this week, right-wing opposition leader Leopoldo López turned himself in to the National Guard after authorities issued a warrant for his arrest last week, accusing him of inciting deadly clashes.

On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials while claiming the United States has sided with the opposition.

Our guest, George Ciccariello-Maher, looks at the recent history of the U.S. role in Venezuela opposing both the Chávez and Maduro governments. He is author of “We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution” and teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.


32 thoughts on “Venezuela Unrest: Is the US Involved?

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:29 am
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    Why does it have to be one or the other. The US helps finance the relatively mainstream opposition and in the past at least has tried to destabilise the country through setting up smaller opposition groups that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. We were discussing the latter if you had bothered to read the thread before commenting. There were other facets to the program including “Penetrate Base/Divide Chavismo” and “Isolate Chavez Internationally”.

  • February 25, 2014 at 5:36 am
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    The death toll is now rising, including victims on both sides. It’s not clear who killed some of the victims, but it appears some opposition protesters are now fighting back. Opposition leaders are emphatically calling for non-violence.

    However, the killings began when armed members of the pro-government Colectivos showed up at a protest and while the National Guard stood by and watched the Colectivos thugs began shooting at the protesters.

    There are also credible reports of beatings, torture and rapes.of protesters carried out by the pro-government goons.

    By the way, I get my information from Venezuelan blogs such as Caracas Chronicals. I don’t watch US TV news.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:59 pm
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    Venezuela analysis is a Venezuelan government tool. It doesn’t even provide accurate reporting. You consciously blind your self to the truth. Go to other sources outside the U as if you will. Even China and Russia news sources are providing better coverage than your sources who so obviously look to bend the news to fit their world view and story line.

    Hey JG, no AI predictions today?

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    So 50% of the Venezuelan population is fanatical?

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:50 pm
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    And of course you can point to successful socialist systems in the past to back up your claims. …no? I didn’t think so.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:39 pm
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    Can’t have it both ways. Either the US is in support of Henri Capriles and Leopoldo Lopez, both ‘mainstream’ or we are sending CIA operatives to Venezuela to enroll as college students who will later lead street protests. Pick one.

  • February 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm
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    Yes, we are, because the US has revealed itself as a tyrant. Destabilising countries for pure economic gain.

  • February 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm
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    I didn’t label all the opposition ‘fanatical’. I wouldn’t have thought that “we helped create” refers to the mainstream opposition. If it does then it doesn’t say much for them. It is more likely to be referring to small groups who can disrupt and destabilise but have no hope of being elected. This is a tried and tested method that has been used in many countries before.

  • February 24, 2014 at 10:26 am
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    The evidence is growing that Cuban security forces are directly involved in Venezuela.
    Why are members of Cuba’s elite rangers, the Avispa Negra, working in Venezuela as members of the DGCIM?

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:57 am
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    Careful labeling any opposition ‘fanatical’. Depends on who’s judging. Barring the “fanatical” extremes, however, the factions that US invention efforts have been accused of supporting are seldom “fanatical” or “tiny minorities”. In the case of Venezuela, this faction represents at least half of the population and quite mainstream.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:01 am
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    Oh, I see.Like Arturo Martinez, brother of PSUV parlimentary deputy, Fransico Martinez, shot dead in Barquisimeto while trying to clear away the burning remains of an opposition road barricade. Are you reporting from Caracas Griffin, or just regurgitating CNN and FOX ?

  • February 24, 2014 at 2:58 am
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    “we helped create” is the part of the quote you are ignoring. It’s not hard to find a fanatical opposition to anything in any country even if they are a tiny minority.

  • February 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm
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    You’re so right. Venezuela has been doing so well under socialism: with a soaring crime rate, massive corruption, inflation rate over 50%, growing shortages in the shops, censored media, and so on. If it weren’t for all those wreckers, hoarders, speculators, saboteurs and counterrevolutionaries, it would be a perfect society by now.

  • February 22, 2014 at 10:56 am
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    You might well as say that given the incompetence of Raul , why not leave him to muck it up in Cuba as well .
    Smarter people than you at the White House have long decided that any move towards socialism in the hemisphere is a danger because they know it will work and are afraid of the good example that a successful socialist society would represent to capitalism.
    It’s right at the heart of a 100-year old U.S. foreign policy .
    The U.S. HAS to intervene in Venezuela as it is now doing somewhat secretly to make the economy and/or the society unmanageable .
    Just as it is doing to Cuba.
    This is something you should have learned long ago.

  • February 22, 2014 at 10:50 am
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    You cannot possibly get the truth about what is going on in Venezuela from either the government spokespeople for the U.S. or the corporate media (Fox, NBC, PBS, NPR etc) since the U.S. government is actively supporting the right wing opposition in the country as U.S. foreign policy has always dictated.
    The wisest course of action is to get what you will from the corporate media sources of your preference on things Venezuelan and then go to venezuelanalysis and/or ZNet for the quite different perspective on Venezuela .
    Today (2/22) there are three lead stories on Venezuela at ZNet .
    As someone who has been a student of both U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. corporate media for well over 40 years, I can say that doing this exercise will open your eyes as to where the truth lies and will provide you with a ready source for info on other matters that are “controversial”.

  • February 22, 2014 at 7:58 am
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    The Venezuelan regime has brought this upon itself with economic policies that have led to massive inflatlon and shortages in spite of having billions in oil revenue. Many supporters abandoned Maduro and nearly threw the election to Capriles because of the disastrous economic policies. They didnt learn that state capitalism and control doesnt work and if free enterprise is stifled the economy will suffer. China learned this but not Venezuela.

  • February 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm
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    Dan, the photographs and videos are there for anybody to see. The people with the guns, the people photographed while shooting into crowds of protesters are the national guard and the vigilante colectivos gangsters. They are on the side of power, they act for the Maduro government.

    The dead are student protesters.

  • February 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm
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    That’s the beauty of being on the side of power. You can repeat the baseless claims of FOX and CNN about the government being the instigator of violence as if it were fact. Actually, the evidence, and the motive for violent destabilization all points to the extreme right wing of the opposition. I remember your scorn for OWS protesters b/c they were trespassing on private property. Like all good fanatics however, you turn a blind eye to the guarimbas of the privileged classes in Venezuela, burning scores of buses, destroying government offices, and yes, killing people.

  • February 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm
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    Are you really choosing the side that fires on unarmed student protesters? Even as this conflagration worsens, at its root is one half of the Venezuelan people who are rejecting Castroism.

  • February 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm
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    No surprise there. “The first casualty of war is the truth”.

  • February 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm
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    The seeds of discontent and instability were planted by Chavez himself. Indirect US support of opposition groups would be meaningless if these groups were not predisposed to resist Chavez in the first place.

  • February 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm
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    No, we are referring to the thousands of Cuban DGI agents, intelligence analysts and soldiers who are stationed in Venezuela and providing security or the Maduro regime.

  • February 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm
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    So, only 5 protesters have died, shot by the leftist colectivo gangs, and that’s all fine with you?

  • February 21, 2014 at 11:53 am
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    You should read twitter pics posted by Venezuelan right wing operatives showing pictures of Syria, Egypt and elsewhere, if you add the pics 100 Venezuelans have died. Even the fascist Lopez wife said the government protected him from a assassination plot.

  • February 21, 2014 at 11:51 am
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    I guess you mean the doctors who go to places where Venezuelan
    doctors would not serve?

  • February 21, 2014 at 11:10 am
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    Obama has said that his administration is not involved in any destabilizing, however the US has many agencies that follow their own agenda regardless (remember Irangate). Past administrations have undoubtedly been involved – see in wikileaks the five point plan to topple Chavez. http://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06CARACAS3356_a.html. A telling line is “Without our continued assistance, it is possible that the organizations we helped create…could be forced to close…Our funding will provide those organizations a much-needed lifeline”.

  • February 21, 2014 at 8:56 am
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    Wow. The ironically titled “Democracy Now” show does an interview about the what’s happening in Venezuela where civilian protesters are being shot by paramilitary soldiers and armed vigilante gangsters. The discussion focuses on the political background of Leopoldo Lopez, and the alleged nefarious influence of the US. But not once did the show mention the activities of the Cuban intelligence services in training the vigilante “colectivos”. The guests pro-Marxist political biases were obvious and profound.

    To balance that very selective perspective, this report at the blog Caracas Chronical lists some of the violent events carried out by the pro-regime forces last night:

    “Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting. People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmenshooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street. And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitants has been taken off the internet amid mounting repression, and this blog itself has been the object of a Facebook “block” campaign.

    What we saw were not “street clashes”, what we saw is a state-hatched offensive to suppress and terrorize its opponents.”

    http://caracaschronicles.com/2014/02/20/venezuela-the-game-changed-last-night/

    But according to George Ciccariello-Maher, one should feel no sympathy for these protesters because Maduro is working to bring “true democracy” to Venezuela. Because armed pro-government vigilantes shooting at college students is how “true democracy” works?

  • February 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm
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    As said recently by a European head of state, With regards to spying, everyone does it, the Yanks are simply better at it.

  • February 20, 2014 at 5:08 pm
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    But is the U as involved here? Seeing the incompetence of Maduro I don’t see why. Just leave him to muck it up! And we do know the Maduro seems to see a conspiracy behind everything

  • February 20, 2014 at 3:19 pm
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    thousands of cubans in venezuela and maduro is concerned about three lowly us officials.

  • February 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm
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    “Is the US involved ?” What a question. We”re talking about a country which spies even on its closest allies, even regarding their positions on climate change. A country which believes it has the right to correct the injudiciousness of people who elect the wrong leaders. The US has always aggressively subverted every single government that was not sufficiently subservient to it, and unfortunately, it probably always will.

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