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Camilo E. Mejia Headshot

The United States' Defense of Democracy in Venezuela: A Dangerous Mirage

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Lured by all the corporate and social media coverage of Venezuela, the American public has once again willingly joined the call for "freedom for Venezuela." But what does freedom really mean in this case? And what do outsiders have to do with freedom for Venezuela?

The international community should demand a cease and desist of all foreign intervention into Venezuelan affairs, and support a peaceful solution of the crisis by the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro. Any and all other calls to action should be completely off the table until all meddlers have retreated back into their own affairs and clear steps have been taken to uphold Venezuela's right to self-determination.

It is not that there is no inflation in Venezuela, or that the crime rate isn't alarming; Venezuelan students most likely have legitimate grievances, and the shortage of goods is no doubt real to the Venezuelan people. The problem is that while all those issues are real, they are by no means a justification for other countries, the United States in particular, to instigate violence and chaos to overthrow a democratically elected government.

It is not hard to discern right from wrong when we step into the shoes of Venezuelans. Take U.S. college students and graduates for starters; they are facing skyrocketing tuition costs, only to enter a comatose labor market, in which they compete for jobs against both their peers and an underemployed professional class that has seen its livelihood be outsourced to cheaper labor pools overseas. All the while they are drowning in student loan debt. A key difference between them and Venezuelan college students is that there is no powerful foreign government or institution providing training and funds in the millions of dollars to toss them into the streets as a part of political-opposition building efforts, presently in the form of violent uprisings to overthrow the government. Imagine the U.S. government response if that was happening here!

Take the claim that the government of Nicolas Maduro is undemocratic and unconstitutional. Does it matter that three months have not passed since the ruling party scored a massive defeat against the opposition in municipal elections? Does it matter that President Maduro's United Socialist Party has won 18 elections, and lost only one, in the past fifteen years? Does it matter that President Jimmy Carter, who has overseen elections in 92 different countries, has called the Venezuelan electoral system "the best in the world"?

The violent protests in Venezuela do not represent a defense of democracy, but an attack against it.

It rings shallow and cynical when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calls on President Maduro, by official statement, to release all political prisoners and engage them in dialogue. Has Secretary Kerry ever heard of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Chelsea Manning, or of any of the "War on Terror" prisoners held illegally at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere in the obscure network of the American Gulag? How does Secretary Kerry reconcile his call to President Maduro with his country's own 1.5 million people who are denied the right to vote on account of past mistakes, or with the American Prison Industrial Complex's estimated 2.5 million prisoners, mostly people of color? Does Secretary Kerry know the United State's compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is about to be reviewed by the United Nations? The review starts today.

The narrative of crude and unrestrained government repression is constantly exacerbated by Twitter pictures, Facebook stories, and YouTube videos, among other forms of social media coverage, and is then un-vettedly reported as the cruel and desperate reality of the Venezuelan people. The reporting of this reality meets its climax in the form of calls upon the international community to intervene.

The real issues facing Venezuela, the uprisings led by the US-supported opposition, the ensuing violence, the Venezuelan government's response, the corporate and social media mirage, the official U.S. statement, the "people's" cry for help, and the eventual "humanitarian intervention," are all pieces of a larger plan of U.S. conquest. The end result is the installment of a U.S.-friendly president, which is not democracy, but the end of it.

The best way to help Venezuela is by demanding that our own government stop interfering in that country's affairs. Such a stance is not one of support for the Venezuelan government, nor of indifference to the real issues Venezuelans are facing, it is a stance of understanding and respecting the right of other nations to self-determination. After all, we have a long way to go to achieve real democracy right here in the U.S., and if we think we have the right to get there without foreign intervention, then let's uphold the same right for the Venezuelan people.