US Labor Against the War & Democracy Now! – 2019-01-31 22:26:42
“Hands Off Venezuela”
Statement on US Intervention in Venezuela
US Labor Against the War
(January 27, 2019) — US Labor Against the War opposes the Trump Administration intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
The US has no legitimate claim to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, to take sides in internal political disputes, or to undermine governments elected by the people.
We have seen the disastrous consequences of recent US interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and, through its alliance with Saudi Arabia, in Yemen.
US intervention in Venezuela can only bring further hardship and suffering, as followed US support for the 2009 coup in Honduras that overthrew the elected government there and contributed to the stream of asylum-seekers now on our southern border seeking relief from that disaster.
It reveals the deep cynicism of US policy makers that they denounce what they call a dictatorial regime in Venezuela while providing unlimited support to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its murderous absolute dictatorship of the royal family.
The US also supports a host of other autocrats, authoritarians, absolute monarchs and dictators in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, to name a few. There is no case in which US intervention in the internal affairs of other countries has led to greater democracy and better conditions of life for the people.
In the case of Venezuela, the economic distress has been precipitated largely by the decline in world oil prices. Oil is the most important revenue source for the Venezuelan government. But Venezuela’s economic difficulties have been greatly compounded by economic sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the United States, beginning in March 2015 under Barack Obama.
These have been explicitly designed to choke off Venezuela’s access to international markets and resources for the purpose of destabilizing the Maduro government and, before that, the government of Hugo Chavez. T
he economic chaos the US now points to in Venezuela as a justification for intervention is in large part a consequence of US policy, which is designed to provoke popular unrest, sow divisions and precipitate an uprising against the government.
We strongly condemn the tacit support given to President Trump’s intervention by leaders of the Democratic Party. Whether articulated by Republicans or Democrats, US intervention to destabilize other countries violates the U.N. Charter and international law.
This interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs serves the interests of wealthy elites and multinational corporations, not the interests of the Venezuelan or American people. It is always the people who end up paying for these interventions in suffering, blood and treasure.
Real international solidarity calls upon us to demand of our government:
“Hands off Venezuela!”
Regime Change Is Not the Answer:
Rep. Ro Khanna Speaks Out Against US-Backed Coup in Venezuela
Amy Goodman / Democracy Now!
(January 29, 2019) — More information has come to light about the direct US role in an attempted coup in Venezuela. The Wall Street Journal reports Vice President Mike Pence called opposition leader Juan Guaido on the night before he declared himself to be president, pledging US support for his actions. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of attempting to wage a coup.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Elliott Abrams to be his special envoy to Venezuela. Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efrain Rios Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass-murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Rios Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chavez.
We speak to Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California.
AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show looking at Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of attempting to wage a coup. Last week, the US and several other nations recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, to be Venezuela’s president. Israel and Australia have become the latest countries to recognize Guaido.
Meanwhile, Britain, Germany, France and Spain have announced they, too, will recognize Guaido, if Maduro does not call for new elections within eight days. President Maduro has rejected the request but says he’s open to dialogue with the opposition.
Meanwhile, more information has come to light about the direct US role in the attempted coup. The Wall Street Journal reports Vice President Mike Pence called Juan Guaido on the night before he declared himself to be president, pledging US support for his actions.
On Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Elliott Abrams would become his special envoy to Venezuela.
SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO: Elliott’s passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples makes him a perfect fit and a valuable and timely addition. . . . Elliott will be a true asset to our mission to help the Venezuelan people fully restore democracy and prosperity to their country.
AMY GOODMAN: Elliott Abrams is a right-wing hawk who was convicted in 1991 for lying to congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, but he was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efrain Rios Montt as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala in the 1980s. Rios Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also linked to the 2002 coup in Venezuela that attempted to topple Hugo Chavez.
The Democratic leadership in Congress has largely supported the Trump administration’s actions, but there have been some voices of dissent.
We’re joined now by Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California.
Welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you respond on what has taken place in Venezuela and the US role in that, from Vice President Pence to Secretary of State Pompeo to national security adviser John Bolton?
REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it’s as if we never learned our lesson. We should have learned by now that the effort for regime change doesn’t work and that we never plan for whether it’s going to be successful and what comes next. This was the mistake we made in Syria.
The entire Washington consensus was that if we supported the rebels, somehow they would topple Assad. Now, Assad was a brutal war criminal, but that was ineffective. And what it led to was Assad actually escalating the bombing and more civilians dying.
The same situation applies here. Look, I’m not going to defend Maduro’s policies. There have been, in my view, unfair elections and hyperinflation. But there is absolutely no plan that would suggest that any effort at regime change would be successful, and there is no plan for what would happen after a civil war, which would just lead to more mayhem and violence.
That is why the responsible solution is what the Vatican and Uruguay and Mexico are doing: a negotiated settlement. And everyone knows that that’s the only way that you could have possible peace there.
Instead, we have the neocons, people like Elliott Abrams, who you just described, who was involved with the Iran-Contra scandal, who was involved in the cover-up in El Salvador, who was involved in the cover-up with Guatemala, dictating our foreign policy and getting us, yet again, into another misguided intervention.
AMY GOODMAN: And this information that came to light in The Wall Street Journal, reporting Vice President Mike Pence called Juan Guaido the night before he declared himself president of Venezuela, pledging US support for his actions, Congressman Khanna?
REP. RO KHANNA: Well, the Democrats should be appalled by that and criticizing that. I mean, for all of our legitimate concerns about Russian interference in our elections, where we get concerned if a journalist appears on Russian television and a member of Congress talks to them, imagine if someone were calling the opposition in our country. We would be furious, justifiably furious. And so, it makes no sense that our vice president would be calling and interfering in politics in Venezuela.
What we ought to be doing is working through international institutions and laws, calling for human rights, but not getting involved in a potential civil war. And again, this is no defense of Maduro. Everyone recognizes that there have been extrajudicial killings there, that his economic policies have led to hyperinflation.
But the reality is that when we have intervened, in places like Syria, in places like Libya, what has — the consequence has been that things have gotten worse. And for some reason, the people who have led all these interventions are still able to dictate American foreign policy. It’s almost as if failure is the qualification to be part of dictating what we should be doing in Venezuela.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what are you calling for in Congress? Among those who have criticized what the US administration is doing — well, you have Dick Durbin, senator, Nancy Pelosi actually supporting Guaido. But then you have people like yourself, Ilhan Omar and others, Bernie Sanders, also critical of the Venezuelan government but critical of what the US is doing. What are you demanding in Congress right now?
REP. RO KHANNA: Well, first, that the Democrats should speak up against this administration’s effort to get us into another civil war. We have always, unfortunately, been too silent when these interventions start.
We were too silent when Iraq was taking place. We were too silent in the intervention in Syria. We were too silent in the intervention in Libya. The neocons aren’t silent. And that’s why they often end up winning these arguments, because there’s not progressive, strong opposition to us intervening.
Second, we do have a pathway for a solution. Everyone knows that the only way that we are going to see greater progress in Venezuela is to have a negotiated settlement with the parties, to have an honest broker. Uruguay, Mexico, the Vatican are trying that. The United States can lend credence to that effort and be involved in that effort of trying to come to a negotiated settlement.
And finally, these sanctions are not working. Even people completely opposed to Maduro’s policies have said that the sanctions are only making matters worse. They’re hurting the poorest of the poor in Venezuela. And we need to really look at ending those sanctions.
AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Khanna, before we go, the government shutdown, the longest in US history. President Trump did not get funding for his border wall, but the effects of the shutdown and the possibility that in three weeks he’ll shut the government down again?
REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it was a total wasted effort that hurt ordinary Americans. I mean, if he was going to ultimately cave, there was no reason for hundreds of thousands of workers to have gone without a paycheck. Millions of contractors aren’t going to get back pay. And I’m concerned that on February 15th he’s going to try to declare a national emergency.
Now, I heard yesterday Senator Rubio and Senator Blunt saying that a national emergency would be a bad idea. But the question is: Is that just going to be rhetoric, or are they actually going to stand up for the Constitution? Because Congress and the Senate can pass a joint resolution — it requires a veto-proof majority — if the president does declare an emergency, to overrule that emergency.
And I would like the Republicans who are legitimately telling the president not to go down that road to say that they would actually vote against him to overturn that emergency, or we’re going to have another crisis in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Ro Khanna, we want to thank you for being with us, Democratic congressmember from Silicon Valley, from California, leading critic of US military interventions abroad.
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