A letter from the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, an island nation located in the Southern Caribbean, provides a stellar example of the wide gulf between the way the U.S. government and allied media present many issues of international importance, and the way they are seen in most of the world.
In the letter, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves appeals to fellow heads of state of the 14 CARICOM nations not to let the Organization of American States (OAS) be hijacked by Washington and used for purposes of “regime change” that violate the OAS charter.
Gonsalves describes the current situation in the OAS:
There are insidious developments at the Organisation of American States (OAS) that should trouble each of us. Among these developments is the introduction of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ‘green room-type’ process by which a small group of powerful states in the Organisation are seeking to impose their will on the decisions of member states.
He notes further:
There is clearly a calculated strategy in place by a group of nations to achieve regime change in Venezuela by using the OAS as a weapon of destruction. Their language is cast in adherence to the principles of democracy, constitutionality and humanitarianism but behind the facade lies the sinister intent of toppling a dulyelected government that challenges their unbridled hegemony in this hemisphere.
This is the clearest, most honest and straightforward description of what any inside observer would see is going on at the OAS. But try to find anything like this expressed, even as an opinion, in the major US media.
In this hemisphere, the OAS has a long history of being manipulated for the purposes of getting rid of governments that Washington doesn’t like. In just the 21st century, this includes Haiti (2000–2004, and 2011); Honduras (2009); Venezuela (2002 and 2015–2017); and Paraguay (2012).
Washington would have gotten away with a lot more in the 21st century, but until recently there was a solid block including Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other left governments that managed to constrain some if its attempts to intervene in the region. But now the US has allies in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru that share its foreign policy agenda in the hemisphere. They are willing to jettison the principles of national sovereignty and self-determination that have long been held dear in Latin America, and in most of the world for that matter.
The CARICOM countries have 14 votes of 34 in the OAS. By themselves, they can block major initiatives that require a two-thirds majority. So no journalist reporting on the OAS story can defend their complete whiteout of Gonsalves’ eloquent appeal to his fellow CARICOM heads of state to make the OAS respect its own charter.
Gonsalves’ efforts are also newsworthy for their courage, and the strength of these convictions in small island states who are vulnerable to retaliation from Washington. This is especially true after US politicians such as Marco Rubio openly threatened the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Haiti with cuts to US aid if they did not vote against Venezuela in the OAS.
Imagine that President Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey, and all of the media simply accepted his rationale for doing so without question, and moved on.
On hemispheric issues involving US foreign policy goals, this type of reporting is not only accepted, but encouraged.
Of course, this has been true for other serious international issues and conflicts, and it is one reason why the US government gets involved in so many horrible, unnecessary wars, and creates chaos and destruction with “regime change” operations. The nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the “democratic revolutions” that we were told were taking place in Syria and Libya; the 2009 military coup in Honduras ― the list is long and extends back many decades.
As Prime Minister Gonsalves notes:
Each of us in CARICOM may have specific concerns about the political, economic and social conditions in Venezuela but we are all sufficiently seasoned political leaders to know that toppling a government will not end those conditions, particularly when there is no viable, electable single alternative to replace it. Only disorder and disarray will result. In all this, there may be a constructive role for CARICOM to play in promoting a dialogue and helping to resolve the conflict in Venezuela. This is a matter that should engage our attention at the earliest opportunity.
That is the crux of the problem with the US attempt to use the OAS for purposes of regime change in Venezuela. The fact is that Venezuela remains a polarized country, where millions of people ― despite 400 percent inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and a shrinking economy ― do not want to see the current government toppled in a coup, as happened temporarily in 2002. There will be presidential elections next year, but there will also have to be dialogue and negotiations to resolve the ongoing political crisis. Washington’s strategy of regime change, and the major media’s treatment of such a foreign policy as “promoting democracy,” makes dialogue and negotiation much more difficult. It encourages those who want to use violence to overthrow the government of Venezuela.
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the book “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy” (2015, Oxford University Press). You can subscribe to his columns here.