THE BLOG
02/26/2014 03:12 pm ET | Updated Apr 28, 2014

The Urgency of Venezuela

"Creo que la mano, la mano invisible de los Estados Unidos, está involucrado en la crisis venezolana. El presidente Obama debe indicar en palabras claras de que Estados Unidos se opone a cualquier intento de un golpe de Estado y los Estados Unidos no va a apoyar directa oindirectamente. Las fuerzas anti-Maduro están actuando para desestabilizar y finalmente derrocar al gobierno de Maduro, que nunca ha sido vencer en las urnas. Los Estados Unidos no debe fomentar este proceso por medio de palabras o acciones, a la intemperie o en secreto." - Tom Hayden, on Telesur, February 25, 2014.

It's difficult to grasp the facts behind the murky fog of Venezuelan crisis. Based more or less on intuitions, but also credible documents, some blame most of the crisis on the CIA. Some national security types, abhorring populism, claim that the Venezuela state is consolidating dictatorial power precisely by winning so many elections. Others, while friendly to Venezuela, blame the Caracas government for failing to address the problems of violent crime and economic malaise.

President Barack Obama may or may not know what various US operatives are doing. We have seen evidence of a "state within the state" before, going back as far as the CIA's operations against Cuba. In Obama's time, the president correctly named the 2009 coup in Honduras a "coup," and then seemed powerless to prevent it. At his first Summit of the Americas, a friendly Obama shook the hand of Hugo Chavez before Obama's top adviser tried to sabotage the warming of relations.

Call me naive, but I do not believe President Obama wants to see President Maduro overthrown. Chaos would follow. The US would be blamed. Relations with Latin America would freeze below zero. The president probably thinks Maduro should thrash in his own domestic contradictions.

But there's another US "government," a secret network that works tirelessly to undermine any Latin American threat to the dominance of American capital and military power. They understand that the president must be provided with "plausible deniability," and so they keep Obama out of the loop. Sometimes they operate through the CIA, sometimes under Republican-Democratic "democracy promotion" programs, sometimes through third parties. Democratic Party political consultants and pollsters have worked for Venezuela's opposition. It's difficult even for a president to keep a grip on it all. That being the case, transparency disappears for the US Congress and public.

Obama's public statements this week certainly gave moral support to the street demonstrations. While also including a vague call for "dialogue," Obama is playing with fire. Obama immediately needs to rein in the entire entourage of US-supported agents of destabilization and issue them a clear cease and desist order, or he and the US government will be blamed for what may happen in the weeks ahead. He needs to request and support whatever consensus emerges this week from the region's elected governments and the United Nations.

The American Congress and public are becoming used to street protests overthrowing elected governments regardless of the issue of national sovereignty. "Humanitarian intervention" in the affairs of other nations means willfully ignoring sovereignty where egregious human rights abuses are at stake and no negotiations are possible. The argument is somewhat attractive up to the point where it revives the Law of the Jungle. In the case of Venezuela, not only sovereignty but representative democracy are at stake, in a region which only recently began to shed the US-supported rule of oligarchs and generals.

The forgotten facts amidst the mounting frenzy is that President Maduro won the April 2013 Venezuelan election by slightly less than 2 percent, and his alliance were victors by ten percent in last December's nationwide municipal elections.

The losers of those Venezuelan elections have turned into "Leninists of the Right," seeking to create a counter-revolutionary situation in which the government apparatus crumbles and they seize power. The leaders want martyrs in the streets. In their apocalyptic view, a coup in Venezuela would spiral swiftly into the collapse of the oil-dependent Bolivian, Ecuadoran and Nicaraguan governments, and be a deathblow to Cuba.

If this frightening vision fails, the anti-Maduro forces will regroup and resume their strategy of destabilization on a permanent basis, a virtual civil war in the guise of a political conflict, in hopes that a segment of Maduro's present voting bloc -- estimated at 50 to 56 percent -- switches sides in a future election out of simple desire for "normalcy."

The peace and justice movement in the US, along with congressional allies, have a potentially important role in pressuring Obama, and Secretaries Kerry and Hegel, to rein in the agents of America's dirty wars. A congressional coalition led by the Miami Cuba Lobby is already agitating for Maduro's demise. Where are the congressional progressives?

Correction: In my recent analysis of Venezuela, I incorrectly referred to an entity known as FTI Consulting as part of a network seeking to destabilize Venezuela. I relied on a 2013 "secret memo" for undermining Venezuela with the FTI logo at the top, published on Venezuela-based blogs, without verifying the existence and authenticity of the original document. I have edited out the reference which appeared in The Bulletin and in The Huffington Post. There is no doubt, however, that the US government supports "democracy programs" in Venezuela supporting the activities of opposition groups. See the US government 2006 memo released by Wikileaks as one example: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/11/06CARACAS3356.html