U.S. Poses as “Humanitarian” While It Weaponizes Starvation in Venezuela

usaid crop 1

Right now, in the name of “humanitarian aid,” the U.S. rulers are deliberately starving and driving people to their deaths in Venezuela.

They are doing this in order to push their imperialist interests in that country and deepen their grip on Latin America. Venezuela, whose economy relies on oil exports for 95% of its hard currency—needed to buy food, medicine and other necessities—was thrown into deep crisis in 2014 when the world price of oil plunged by half. Seizing on this crisis, the U.S. implemented an escalating wave of sanctions, first restricting Venezuela’s access to credit, then blocking imports of Venezuela’s oil and and seizing Venezuelan assets. The aim was and is to incite the population—and the military—against the Maduro government by driving millions more people into hunger, starvation, misery or death caused by the lack of life-saving medication. This is a crime against humanity.

A Venezuelan economist working for a brokerage firm said, “I’m afraid if these sanctions are implemented in their current form, we’re looking at starvation.” News accounts describe people going through dumpsters looking for food scraps in the capital city of Caracas. The New York Times describes how “pharmacy shelves are often bereft of essential medicines, causing a fall in life expectancy and the re-emergence of previously eradicated diseases, including diphtheria.” (New York Times, February 2, 2019)

The U.S. has been combining the intensifying sanctions (and mass suffering) with an attempt to funnel millions of dollars in so-called “humanitarian” aid to Venezuela—through the opposition forces of Juan Guaidó. The Trump/Pence regime has declared Guaidó the “legitimate” president of Venezuela and threatened military intervention to oust Maduro. On February 7, the U.S. media was full of coverage of “emergency relief” like baby formula and medicine—organized by the U.S. and opposition forces—piled up in warehouses at the Colombia-Venezuela border. The Maduro government had blocked the supplies from crossing the border.

This move by the U.S. is not about humanitarian concerns for the people’s suffering—it is aimed at pressuring the Venezuelan military to abandon Maduro and go over to the side of the U.S.-backed opposition. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who is playing a big role in the U.S. attacks on Maduro, tweeted: “The Post-Maduro future of military leaders in #Venezuela will depend in large part on whether or not they allow that aid to reach the people.” A Venezuelan political scientist, Dimitris Pantoulas, told the New York Times, “This is 99 percent about the military and one percent about humanitarian aspects. The opposition is testing the military’s loyalty, raising their cost of supporting Maduro. Are they with Maduro, or no? Will they reject the aid? If the answer is no, then Maduro’s days are numbered.” The International Committee of the Red Cross and its local affiliates in Colombia have refused to participate in this supposed aid, citing their “fundamental principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.” And in fact, the aid itself is a mere pittance—enough to feed no more than 5,000 people for 10 days.

So the intensifying sanctions combined with offers of “aid” are an extremely cynical and ruthless strategy by the U.S. imperialists to weaponize starvation—to pressure the Venezuelan military into a coup while painting the Maduro government as responsible for the starvation and deaths to justify further intervention.

What the U.S. is doing in Venezuela now is part of a whole history of such crimes in Latin America, under both Democrats and Republicans—from the 1973 CIA coup in Chile to the backing of death squads and massacres of indigenous people in El Salvador and the coup in Honduras engineered by Obama and Clinton, to literally hundreds and hundreds of other invasions, embargoes, coups, manipulations, and other acts of aggression.

Since our last article on Venezuela (“USA Backs Coup in Venezuela, Makes the Godfather Look Like Mary Poppins”), the situation has become even more dangerous. The new U.S. sanctions put into effect last week, further clamping down on Venezuelan oil exports, will horribly intensify the starvation and deaths among the people. At the same time, given that Maduro has dug in (and seems to have the military’s backing, for now) and the opposition coup-makers have lost some momentum, the stakes are raised for the Trump/Pence regime to step up aggressive moves, including possible invasion. Such direct military intervention will, at minimum, mean even more terrible suffering for the people of Venezuela—and very possibly lead to even worse clashes in that country and beyond.

The humanitarian bullshit of the U.S. must be exposed and its aggression opposed. At the same time, the road promoted by Maduro as “socialist” is socialist in name only. As the “Godfather” article concluded:

“Venezuela, with the largest oil reserves in the world, has long been dominated as a gas station for U.S. imperialism. This has created a lopsided and distorted society with a highly technical oil sector and an overall backwards economy with huge numbers of people unemployed and living in slums. Chávez [president of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013] and Maduro are not “socialist.” They attempted to angle for a “better deal” with like-minded countries to improve their bargaining position and get a bigger share of the oil profits, and then used some of that wealth to fund social welfare programs among the poor.

But Venezuela didn’t really break with the relations of imperialism and left many of the backward social relations within Venezuela intact: Almost nine million people remained locked into slums. Women remained subordinated and degraded—abortion is banned in Venezuela. As for the environment, Venezuela is the largest CO2 emitter in Latin America.

“This leads to a very important point: the road promoted by Chávez is part of the problem and NOT part of the solution. It is a dead end trap that leaves imperialism itself untouched.

But despite still being locked within this oppressive system, this “art of the deal” was too much for the U.S. to tolerate in what they so arrogantly regard as their “backyard.” The U.S. imperialist ruling class—and this includes both the Trump/Pence regime and the Democrats, almost all of whom are on board with this coup attempt—is determined to put Venezuela, and all of Latin America, back in what the U.S. regards as “its place.” That’s what’s really behind all the honeyed words these politicians spew to justify regime change and all the misery and suffering they are consciously subjecting tens of millions of people to.

“We need a whole new world—beyond the division of the world into a handful of imperialist powers who exploit, dominate, and bludgeon the whole rest of humanity… a world moving to eliminate all forms of oppression and exploitation, and all the relations between people and the ideas that are founded on and reinforce that exploitation and oppression. And as part of fighting for that revolution, we need to oppose the current vicious—and highly risky—threats and actions being carried out by U.S. imperialism against Venezuela.”

Originally published at revcom.us

Revolution newspaper/revcom.us, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, provides the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the whole process of carrying out our strategy for revolution. Through publishing works of Bob Avakian, and through many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, Revolution enables people to really understand, and act to radically change, the world.


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