Venezuela has seen anti-government protests recently, aimed at challenging the Chavista government headed by Nicolas Maduro. These protests have even come with its own viral video that has the potential to create a mad bandwagon effect akin to that of the Kony 2012 buzz. The hype around the Venezuela protests however is covering the selfish motives of the middle and upper classes of Venezuela and the insatiable desire the US government has for oil.
The video entitled “What’s going on in Venezuela in a nutshell” claims that millions of people are protesting against the illegitimate government of Venezuela. That “illegitimate” government has won numerous elections since 1998, the latest being in February 2013 when Nicolas Maduro was elected to power after the death of Hugo Chavez. The video also claims that the decisions of the Venezuelan government aren’t representing its people. This Venezuelan government is representing the people of Venezuela, and not just its middle and upper classes. The people of the barrios have seen poverty massively reduced by the Chavista government of Venezuela as the country’s oil revenue is used to improve their lives rather than further fatten the old political elite of Venezuela and their American masters.
This viral video has also come complete with its own hashtag, #PrayForVenezuela. This ‘pray for’ hashtag has seen the shameless use of images from other protests around the world, including Egypt, Bulgaria, Greece, Argentina, Brazil and, most disturbingly, images of victims of the conflict in Syria, in an attempt to manufacture outrage towards the Venezuelan government. CNN even used a tweeted photo that was in fact taken in Singapore when reporting on events in Venezuela. Maduro has recently threatened to expel CNN from the country over their reporting of the current protests and he has every right to. The privately owned Venezuelan media and the pro-US foreign media are the weapons used by the Chavista government’s enemies in their attempts to remove them from power and return Venezuela’s wealth into the hands of the upper and middle classes.
What these protests and skewered coverage of the events are reminiscent of is the attempted coup in 2002 that saw Hugo Chavez temporarily removed from power. April 11th 2002 saw an anti-Chavez march take an unplanned diversion towards a pro-Chavez march. The anti-Chavez march was fired upon by snipers and soon after the event images from the privately owned anti-Chavez media showed Chavez supporters firing hand guns from a bridge. The anti-Chavez media went to condemn these Chavez supporters for what they called an act of savagery, but another camera angle revealed that there were no anti-Chavez supporters on the street below the bridge and the pro-Chavez supports themselves were taking cover from snipers above them and anti-Chavez police below them. Despite this military chiefs quickly moved to blame Chavez and released a pre-recorded statement blaming Chavez for deaths in Caracas.
It was clearly a coup as these military chiefs announced that Chavez had resigned when he was in fact kidnapped. The next morning the unelected businessman named Pedro Carmona was sworn into office. The Bush Administration said it was happy about the regime change and US media used the same selectively edited images that blamed pro-Chavez supporters for the violence to justify the coup. Carmona’s reign did not last long however, as the news reached the people in the barrios that Chavez was forced to resign there was a huge pro-Chavez march on the palace and they demanded the return of Chavez. The army turned in the face of such people power and the presidential guard retook the palace for Chavez’s government. 48 hours after the attempted coup, Chavez was back in power.
The middle classes in Venezuela still have their wealth but what they have lost is their political power over the country’s huge oil economy. As the middle and upper classes of Venezuela lost the power over the oil economy, the US also lost its control over the oil distribution, and as we know, that’s something that US doesn’t like. It is the oil revenue that the 2002 coup was attempting to bring back into the hands of the US as CIA documents have shown the US knew all about the conspiracy to remove Chavez.
The US would obviously want to get this oil economy back under their influence and as a result has continually attempted to destabilise and remove the socialist Venezuelan government. It’s a fairly open secret that the US will continually try to remove Maduro, and there’s even $5 million in the 2014 US Federal Budget for funding opposition movements in Venezuela. Some of that money will be funding these opposition protests that are now attempting to destabilise Maduro’s government and get the oil economy back into the hands of pro-US classes.
These protests look to be the latest in a long list of actions of the American empire pursuing its own interests in Latin America. Once again making use of the media to distort events, this time with the use of social media, the old Venezuelan elite and the US are looking to manufacture outrage towards a democratically elected government that stands in the way of its oil. Time and time again the US has sought to crush elements of resistance against its drive for dominance in the Americas. As Hugo Chavez said himself in relation to clashing with the US, “To have a revolution without crashing against the empire – it’s impossible”.