Today Pepe ESCOBAR posted a piece from Vijay PRASHAD about ways to regime change. PRASHAD shows the connection between imperial meddling in states of the Global South and economic structures belonging to Colonial boundaries like producing singular commodities (oil, sugar etc.).
Pepe Escobar – THE ULTIMATE 12-STEP METHOD FOR REGIME CHANGE by Vijay PRASHAD – Dokument 1
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, journalist, commentator and a Marxist intellectual. He is the Executive Director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
Moon of Alabama discusses the possibility of a military intervention by the USA in Venezuela – Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project – Document 2
- THE ULTIMATE 12-STEP METHOD FOR REGIME CHANGE
by my friend, the invaluable Vijay Prashad
Reprinted here IN FULL – please share it widely
Step One: Colonialism’s Traps. Most of the Global South remains trapped by the structures put in place by colonialism. Colonial boundaries encircled states that had the misfortune of being single commodity producers – either sugar for Cuba or oil for Venezuela. The inability to diversify their economies meant that these countries earned the bulk of their export revenues from their singular commodities (98% of Venezuela’s export revenues come from oil). As long as the prices of the commodities remained high, the export revenues were secure. When the prices fell, revenue suffered. This was a legacy of colonialism. Oil prices dropped from $160.72 per barrel (June 2008) to $51.99 per barrel (January 2019). Venezuela’s export revenues collapsed in this decade.
Step Two: The Defeat of the New International Economic Order. In 1974, the countries of the Global South attempted to redo the architecture of the world economy. They called for the creation of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) that would allow them to pivot away from the colonial reliance upon one commodity and diversify their economies. Cartels of raw materials – such as oil and bauxite – were to be built so that the one-commodity country could have some control over prices of the products that they relied upon. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), founded in 1960, was a pioneer of these commodity cartels. Others were not permitted to be formed. With the defeat of OPEC over the past three decades, its members – such as Venezuela (which has the world’s largest proven oil reserves) – have not been able to control oil prices. They are at the mercy of the powerful countries of the world.
Step Three: The Death of Southern Agriculture. In November 2001, there were about three billion small farmers and landless peasants in the world. That month, the World Trade Organisation met in Doha (Qatar) to unleash the productivity of Northern agri-business against the billions of small farmers and landless peasants of the Global South. Mechanisation and large, industrial-scale farms in North America and Europe had raised productivity to about 1 to 2 million kilogrammes of cereals per farmer. The small farmers and landless peasants in the rest of the world struggled to grow 1,000 kilogrammes of cereals per farmer. They were nowhere near as productive. The Doha decision, as Samir Amin wrote, presages the annihilation of the small farmer and landless peasant. What are these men and women to do? The production per hectare is higher in the West, but the corporate take-over of agriculture (as Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research Senior Fellow P. Sainath shows) leads to increased hunger as it pushes peasants off their land and leaves them to starve.
Step Four: Culture of Plunder. Emboldened by Western domination, monopoly firms act with disregard for the law. As Kambale Musavuli and I write of the Democratic Republic of Congo, its annual budget of $6 billion is routinely robbed of at least $500 by monopoly mining firms, mostly from Canada – the country now leading the charge against Venezuela. Mispricing and tax avoidance schemes allow these large firms (Canada’s Agrium, Barrick and Suncor) to routinely steal billions of dollars from impoverished states.
Step Five: Debt as a Way of Life. Unable to raise money from commodity sales, hemmed in by a broken world agricultural system and victim of a culture of plunder, countries of the Global South have been forced to go hat in hand to commercial lenders for finance. Over the past decade, debt held by the Global South states has increased, while debt payments have ballooned by 60%. When commodity prices rose between 2000 and 2010, debt in the Global South decreased. As commodity prices began to fall from 2010, debts have risen. The IMF points out that of the 67 impoverished countries that they follow, 30 are in debt distress, a number that has doubled since 2013. More than 55.4% of Angola’s export revenue is paid to service its debt. And Angola, like Venezuela, is an oil exporter. Other oil exporters such as Ghana, Chad, Gabon and Venezuela suffer high debt to GDP ratios. Two out of five low-income countries are in deep financial distress.
Step Six: Public Finances Go to Hell. With little incoming revenue and low tax collection rates, public finances in the Global South has gone into crisis. As the UN Conference on Trade and Development points out, ‘public finances have continued to be suffocated’. States simply cannot put together the funds needed to maintain basic state functions. Balanced budget rules make borrowing difficult, which is compounded by the fact that banks charge high rates for money, citing the risks of lending to indebted countries.
Step Seven: Deep Cuts in Social Spending. Impossible to raise funds, trapped by the fickleness of international finance, governments are forced to make deep cuts in social spending. Education and health, food sovereignty and economic diversification – all this goes by the wayside. International agencies such as the IMF force countries to conduct ‘reforms’, a word that means extermination of independence. Those countries that hold out face immense international pressure to submit under pain of extinction, as the Communist Manifesto (1848) put it.
Step Eight: Social Distress Leads to Migration. The total number of migrants in the world is now at least 68.5 million. That makes the country called Migration the 21st largest country in the world after Thailand and ahead of the United Kingdom. Migration has become a global reaction to the collapse of countries from one end of the planet to the other. The migration out of Venezuela is not unique to that country but is now merely the normal reaction to the global crisis. Migrants from Honduras who go northward to the United States or migrants from West Africa who go towards Europe through Libya are part of this global exodus.
Step Nine: Who Controls the Narrative? The monopoly corporate media takes its orders from the elite. There is no sympathy for the structural crisis faced by governments from Afghanistan to Venezuela. Those leaders who cave to Western pressure are given a free pass by the media. As long as they conduct ‘reforms’, they are safe. Those countries that argue against the ‘reforms’ are vulnerable to being attacked. Their leaders become ‘dictators’, their people hostages. A contested election in Bangladesh or in the Democratic Republic of Congo or in the United States is not cause for regime change. That special treatment is left for Venezuela.
Step Ten: Who’s the Real President? Regime change operations begin when the imperialists question the legitimacy of the government in power: by putting the weight of the United States behind an unelected person, calling him the new president and creating a situation where the elected leader’s authority is undermined. The coup takes place when a powerful country decides – without an election – to anoint its own proxy. That person – in Venezuela’s case Juan Guaidó – rapidly has to make it clear that he will bend to the authority of the United States. His kitchen cabinet – made up of former government officials with intimate ties to the US (such as Harvard University’s Ricardo Hausmann and Carnegie’s Moisés Naím) – will make it clear that they want to privatise everything and sell out the Venezuelan people in the name of the Venezuelan people.
Step Eleven: Make the Economy Scream. Venezuela has faced harsh US sanctions since 2014, when the US Congress started down this road. The next year, US President Barack Obama declared Venezuela a ‘threat to national security’. The economy started to scream. In recent days, the United States and the United Kingdom brazenly stole billions of dollars of Venezuelan money, placed the shackles of sanctions on its only revenue generating sector (oil) and watched the pain flood through the country. This is what the US did to Iran and this is what they did to Cuba. The UN says that the US sanctions on Cuba have cost the small island $130 billion. Venezuela lost $6 billion for the first year of Trump’s sanctions, since they began in August 2017. More is to be lost as the days unfold. No wonder that the United Nations Special Rapporteur Idriss Jazairy says that ‘sanctions which can lead to starvation and medical shortages are not the answer to the crisis in Venezuela’. He said that sanctions are ‘not a foundation for the peaceful settlement of disputes’. Further, Jazairy said, ‘I am especially concerned to hear reports that these sanctions are aimed at changing the government of Venezuela’. He called for ‘compassion’ for the people of Venezuela.
Step Twelve: Go to War. US National Security Advisor John Bolton held a yellow pad with the words 5,000 troops in Colombia written on it. These are US troops, already deployed in Venezuela’s neighbour. The US Southern Command is ready. They are egging on Colombia and Brazil to do their bit. As the coup climate is created, a nudge will be necessary. They will go to war.
2. MoA – Venezuela – Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project
88-112 Minuten moonofalabama.org
January 31, 2019
Venezuela – Coup Attempt Part Of A Larger Project – Military Intervention Likely To Fail
The Trump administration has launched a large political project to remake several states in Latin America. The Wall Street Journal headlines:
U.S. Push to Oust Venezuela’s Maduro Marks First Shot in Plan to Reshape Latin America
The Trump administration’s broader aim is to gain leverage over Cuba and curb recent inroads in the region by Russia, Iran and China
The plan includes regime change in Venezuela, Nicaragua and eventually Cuba. The removal of any Russian or Chinese interest is another point. It is a multiyear project that has bipartisan support. It will likely require military force.
The targets: Raúl Castro of Cuba, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.
The project seems to echo the „New Middle East“ plan then Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice launched in 2006. It largely failed due to U.S. incompetence but left behind severely damaged states.
That the U.S. is going for such a wide ranging plan in the western hemisphere might explain why Trump is pressing to end the other military projects in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
The starting shot for the new plan, the U.S. led coup attempt in Venezuela, is already in trouble. The U.S. selected puppet Juan Guaidó had called for demonstrations in support of his coup that were supposed to take place yesterday. But even the NYT, which propagandizes for each and every regime change operation the U.S. undertakes in Latin America, could find only little evidence of support:
Mr. Guaidó also took part in protests on Wednesday at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, where he was swarmed by international reporters. Wearing a white lab coat, he linked arms with medical students and marched with them up a roadway, before speeding off on the back of a motorbike.
The demonstration was one of a handful in the city on Wednesday, though on a smaller scale than some recent demonstrations. Some workers walked out of their jobs for hours in protest against Mr. Maduro and his government, gathering on corners through the capital.
Videos from Venezuela showed a crowd of some hundred people in the better off quarters of Caracas. Meanwhile pictures of several pro-Maduro demonstrations in various cities showed much larger crowds. New demonstrations will be held on Saturday and are likely to show similar results.
The Washington Post claims that anti-government protests took place in two of the more destitute areas of Caracas. But the report contradicts itself. It starts:
As the opposition campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro dramatically escalated, the warren-like streets of the Puerta Caracas slum filled with pot-banging, anti-government demonstrators. A culture center run by Maduro loyalists was burned down. Hungry, beaten-down residents felt a rush of hope.
Then night fell, along with the boot steps of government forces.
Maduro called the arsonists “fascist criminals,” and residents in the western Caracas enclave paid the price. Mask-wearing special forces, locals said, swarmed the neighborhood last week, kicking in doors, rounding up young people and imposing an effective curfew.
Twenty propaganda filled paragraphs later we learn that the described arson of a culture center took place before the coup attempt happened and likely has nothing to do with it:
The uprisings began the night of Jan. 22, with residents of Puerta Caracas banging pots and lighting dumpsters on fire. Around midnight, neighbors say, a group of hooded boys threw molotov cocktails at the culture center.
Early Wednesday, family members said, Abel Pernia, 19, was heading to a doctor’s appointment when armed intelligence police officers grabbed him, shoved him against a wall and handcuffed him.
… [more] protests erupted in Petare last Wednesday and continued until dawn. A group set fire to barricades, threw stones and attacked an outpost of the National Guard. Security forces repelled them with tear gas as residents chanted “we don’t want food boxes! What we want is for Nicolas to leave!”
Neighbors said that criminal gangs were among the crowd and created havoc by violently confronting the police. The response was immediate.
The coup attempt was launched on January 23. The arson incident took place on January 22. The following day the police came and arrested people involved in it. More gang riots followed.
The whole story has nothing to with the coup attempt or with general protests against Maduro. It is about gang crime in some slum quarters. Gang fighting has long been a problem in Caracas. A special police force, the FAES, was set up in 2017 to get it under control.
That the Washington Post has to use an unrelated incident to proclaim that the poor people support the coup attempt shows how little real evidence it has to support that propaganda claim.
The public in Venezuela is evidently not supporting the foreign induced coup attempt. A recent poll shows that more than 80% of the people are against sanctions and other international interventions to remove President Maduro. 80% also support talks between the government and the opposition which Maduro repeatedly offered but which the coup plotters reject.
It is very unlikely that civil disobedience or demonstrations will be able to remove the government of Venezuela. The opposition simply does not have enough people on its side to create more than inconveniences.
It is also not the plan.
It is obvious that the U.S. wants a violent conflict. Either the Venezuelan military will have to launch a coup or the violence will have to be brought in from the outside.
The military has for now declared that it is not willing to do anything against the government. Other measures will have to be taken. That the Trump administration selected Elliott Abrams, Ronald Reagan’s „Assistant Secretary of Dirty Wars“, as special envoy to its puppets is telling:
The choice of Abrams sends a clear message to Venezuela and the world: The Trump administration intends to brutalize Venezuela, while producing a stream of unctuous rhetoric about America’s love for democracy and human rights. Combining these two factors — the brutality and the unctuousness — is Abrams’s core competency.
An oped by the U.S. selected dude, who was created by the U.S. regime change machine, was published in today’s New York Times:
Juan Guaidó: Venezuelans, Strength Is in Unity
To end the Maduro regime with the minimum of bloodshed, we need the support of pro-democratic governments, institutions and individuals the world over.
Notice the „minimum of bloodshed“? One wonders how many thousands of dead will do.
Guaido explains the murky legal foundation for his claims to presidency:
I would like to be clear about the situation in Venezuela: Mr. Maduro’s re-election on May 20, 2018, was illegitimate, as has since been acknowledged by a large part of the international community. His original six-year term was set to end on Jan. 10. By continuing to stay in office, Nicolás Maduro is usurping the presidency.
My ascension as interim president is based on Article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, according to which, if at the outset of a new term there is no elected head of state, power is vested in the president of the National Assembly until free and transparent elections take place. This is why the oath I took on Jan. 23 cannot be considered a “self-proclamation.” It was not of my own accord that I assumed the function of president that day, but in adherence to the Constitution.
The early election in May 2018 was held on demand of the opposition parties some of which, urged by the U.S., did not take part in it. There is no evidence of fraud that lets one doubt the results. Maduro won among several candidates with more than 60% of the votes. One might argue that has more legitimacy than some other elected people.
Not liking the outcome is not a reason to declare an election illegitimate.
If Maduro’s first term ended on January 10 why did it take it Guaido, as head of the National Assembly, thirteen days to find that Maduro’s second term was ‚illegitimate‘? Moreover, if article 233 is used as justification to temporarily usurp the presidency then Guaido has the duty to hold new elections within 30 days. So far he has not even called for them. His reasoning is not convincing at all.
Guaido goes on to say that he needs support of the military. But this does not sound like he has it:
The transition will require support from key military contingents. We have had clandestine meetings with members of the armed forces and the security forces. We have offered amnesty to all those who are found not guilty of crimes against humanity. The military’s withdrawal of support from Mr. Maduro is crucial to enabling a change in government, and the majority of those in service agree that the country’s recent travails are untenable.
He further claims, like the Washington Post above, that the gang violence before the coup attempt shows that Maduro has lost all support:
Mr. Maduro no longer has the support of the people. Last week in Caracas, citizens from the poorest neighborhoods that had been Chavista strongholds in the past took to the streets in unprecedented protests. They went out again on Jan. 23 with the full knowledge that they might be brutally repressed, and they continue to attend town hall meetings.
Guaido ends by calling for external support for his endeavor.
What he needs are billions of dollars to build up some mercenary army that will help him to overthrow the government.
The U.S. seized Venezuelan assets but will have trouble handing them to Guaido. The main asset is CITGO, which owns refineries and gas stations in the United States. But CITGO is deep in debt. Its refineries depend on the heavy oil from Venezuela. If might well go into bankruptcy in which case the debt holders will take it over. At least 49.5 % will go to the Russian company Rosneft. The legal process will take years.
So how much U.S. money is Trump willing to invest in his plan?
Venezuela will have trouble defending itself against a foreign military attack. The Maduro government is not the most competent, the military is quite corrupt, and money is scarce. China and Russia may support it with some additional loans, but are otherwise unlikely to come to its help. Cuba and Nicaragua may be willing to send troops but have little else to offer.
But the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela has millions of supporters. Most are poor people who would lose out under a new rightwing government. While the Venezuelan military may be corrupt and not very willing to fight, many people will surely take up arms to defend the gains they made under Maduro and Chavez.
It might be relatively easy to invade Venezuela and to defeat its regular military. But the following occupation would be a very difficult endeavor. The Pentagon has seen how this worked out in Iraq. It will likely warn against the use of any U.S. troops in Venezuela. Other countries will likewise be careful not to get into such a mess.
The CIA and the coup plotters can hire thousands of throat cutting thugs to do some extreme damage to Venezuela. But they have little chance to win more than a completely destroyed country.
Might that be the real aim? Is the project for the New Middle East Latin America one of complete destruction?
Posted by b on January 31, 2019 at 01:59 PM | Permalink
Highlights by StB
Greets Stephan Best