by Jacob Bilsky
Despite large sections of the U.S. economy coming to a standstill due to the ongoing pandemic, the national government is still unwilling to cease its attacks against countries worldwide, from South America to the Middle East. Most recently, a group of mercenaries led by private military contractors and former Green Berets attempted to carry out a coup in Venezuela.
The terrorists apparently aimed to infiltrate Venezuela by sea, capture democratically elected President Nicholas Maduro and bring him under U.S. custody—a plot strikingly reminiscent of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba and the 2002 coup against late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Their plans were thwarted by Venezuelan fishermen who helped intercept the threat.
In connection to the attempted coup, the Venezuelan government captured more than 40 conspirators, with eight attackers dying in the initial assault. About 60 men participated in the botched invasion, utilizing combat boats owned by the Colombian government to support their invasion.
Meanwhile, documents released by the Washington Post reveal that the U.S.-supported “opposition” forces in Venezuela paid security firm Silvercorp $213 million to carry out the invasion. The participation of so many groups connected to the U.S. government in the effort strongly suggests that the invasion involved the direct support of the U.S. government.
A New Chapter in the History of U.S. Intervention in the Region
The U.S. has supported numerous invasions and military coups targeting its southern neighbors over the course of its history. Such practices began in the mid-1800s, when slave owners and Democratic Party politicians would fund private militias known as “filibusters” to overthrow governments around the Caribbean, with the goal of turning their countries into new slave states. The State of Texas was originally considered Mexican territory, until some settlers and militias from the east overthrew the Mexican government in the region and declared “independence.” Shortly afterward, they joined the United States as a slave state in 1845. In the years that followed, the U.S. acquired most of its South-Western border after illegally sending troops into Mexican territory and instigating a war in the region.
By the 1850s, filibustering became a common practice. Democratic Party presidential hopeful Stephen A. Douglas campaigned on a platform of annexing Cuba, while filibuster William Walker led multiple expeditions to Nicaragua with the goal of colonizing the country to serve the interests of U.S. capitalists. U.S. Imperialism in the 19th Century culminated with invasions of Puerto Rico and Cuba, with the former remaining a U.S. territory ever since. Cuba’s history as part of the U.S. empire is a little more complicated, with the federal government inserting a number of amendments to the country’s constitution to ensure U.S. business interests were upheld and to secure the existence of a military base at Guantanamo Bay.
In the 20th Century, a number of left-wing revolutions and reform movements swept across Latin America. The U.S. responded by collaborating with corporate militias and right-wing military officers to murder workers, peasants, and politicians involved in these movements. U.S. forces directly intervened in the Mexican revolution to defeat the revolutionary armies of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa from 1914-1917. In 1954, when President and reformer Jacobo Árbenz attempted to redistribute unused land owned by American fruit companies to peasants in Guatemala, the Eisenhower administration backed a conservative coup to overthrow him.
This coup to ensure U.S. interests in the “Banana Republics” foreshadowed what would become standard procedure for the C.I.A. whenever a left-wing leader came to power in Latin America. Perhaps the most infamous example is when the U.S. supported a brutal coup against socialist president Salvador Allende in Chile, propping up the bloody neoliberal dictator Augusto Pinochet in his place. More recently, the Bolivian military overthrew indigenous president Evo Morales in 2019 and replaced him with right-wing leaders friendly to the U.S. based on faulty claims of election fraud from the Organization of American States.
When military intervention doesn’t work, the U.S. turns to economic warfare to assert its dominance. Throughout the Caribbean, the U.S. collaborates with the International Monetary Fund to coerce countries like Haiti and Jamaica to accept predatory loans and implement economic austerity measures. Meanwhile, Cuba and Venezuela have survived many attempted coups, but U.S. sanctions have hurt the economies of both nations, with the working class usually bearing the brunt of the consequences.
Socialism and Internationalism are the Way Forward
The Independent Socialist Group is critical of Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who have implemented cuts to key social programs and failed to remove the capitalist class from power, but the neoliberal policies of coup leader Juan Guaido and his associates are not solutions to the problems faced by Venezuela. Only by nationalizing a majority of key industries under democratic workers control can the Venezuelan people take control of their economy for the benefit of the public. Even then, it will take an international socialist revolution to end economic backstabbing and imperialist invasions for good.
Sanctions and military action from the U.S. and its allies only hurt the Venezuelan working-class. By cutting off trade and freezing the assets of countries like Venezuela and Iran, economic sanctions have caused suffering as the U.S. denies ordinary people access to necessary food and medical supplies. The continuation of U.S. sanctions and attacks during the pandemic has caused suffering around the world, with recent bombings in the Middle East—allegedly targeting Iranian paramilitaries—killing and injuring Iraqi soldiers and civilians. Coupled with the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani early in 2020, the ongoing violence perpetrated by the U.S. government threatens to plunge the world into a new era of imperialist war. The recent attack on Venezuela heightened military tensions in the Americas, as Maduro seeks Russian military aid to defend against the U.S. and its allies. As internationalists we denounce the threat that the U.S. government poses to our working-class brothers and sisters around the world.
Overthrowing Latin American governments and bombing civilians in the Middle East are bipartisan efforts. Republican President Donald Trump bragged that if he had led the invasion in Venezuela it would have been much bigger, while Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden declared his support for coup plots and sanctions against both Venezuela and Cuba. We need an independent workers’ party to fight sanctions and military interventions, and dismantle the imperialist institutions used by U.S. capitalists to dominate other nations.
The Independent Socialist Group denounces the recent coup and demands the following:
- Unions, community organizations, and activists should raise opposition to the U.S. supporting and directly participating in the overthrow of foreign governments. When it is safe to hold mass protests, we must organize demonstrations against war and imperialism.
- End all economic sanctions against other countries; workers internationally should not be punished for their governments’ actions.
- Outlaw the use and operation of private military contractors in the U.S. and by the U.S.
- Close U.S. military bases in foreign countries, including Guantanamo Bay.
- Support the rights of workers and indigenous peoples internationally to self-determination and elections without U.S. interference.
- End U.S. military aid to right-wing and authoritarian governments including those currently in Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.
- Cut the bloated military budget and reinvest the money in social programs. A Just Transition for rank and file military personnel with guaranteed full pay, benefits, free re-training, and new living-wage jobs.
- Build an independent workers’ party to advocate these policies and support socialist cooperation internationally.