Regional Cold War

by Caribupdate Weekly

For Grenadians and other Caribbean nationals who have been celebrating last December’s announcement of plans by the US and Cuba to normalize relations, taking it as a sign of the end of the cold war in this part of world, developments in Venezuela last week could be a warning that we ought to put the champagne away and put the celebration on pause.

Several Venezuelans, including the mayor of Caracas, are in police custody. They are accused of plotting to overthrow the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Further, the Venezuelan authorities charge that the plot was hatched with support from the United States, which has been an unfriendly northern neighbour to Venezuela ever since the country embarked on its “Bolivarian Revolution’’ led by the late socialist President Hugo Chavez.

All that said, the United States claims that it had nothing with any coup to remove the Venezuelan government.

In a carefully worded statement, the US labeled the Venezuelan allegations as “baseless and false’’.

“The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Consistent with the principles enshrined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the United States reaffirms the region’s commitment that changes in governments must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful, and in accordance with the rule of law. The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government,’’ the American statement said.

The trouble is that rarely does any individual or country — the United States included — ever admit to engaging in subversive activities against a government.

And while the US, in truth and in fact, may have had nothing to do with a coup plot — real or imagined — against the Maduro administration in Venezuela, there is good reason why many may be suspicious. One simply has to examine history; a history that shows US involvement, directly and indirectly, in toppling — and attempting to overthrow — governments in Latin America and the Caribbean since the enunciation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.

Certainly, the US and its allies at home and abroad, could always present their own justifiable reasons for the American action and spin a single-story through their well-oiled public relations machinery.

But facts are facts, however. And, the facts of history show, for example, US intervention in Grenada in 1983; US support for a failed 2002 coup aimed at removing then Venezuelan President Chavez; American military might brought to bear on the Dominican Republic in 1903; Cuba 1906 and 1961; and Chile 1973.

These are just a small fraction of US action against governments in Latin America and the Caribbean. So, any suspicion of the US being involved in a coup plot against Maduro is not all that farfetched.

Venezuela, like every country on this planet, has its challenges, including social and political issues with which it is grappling. Venezuelans are a proud, independent people who are resourceful enough to work through their problems. An election will be held in the future and the people will have a chance to pass their verdict on Maduro’s stewardship. Everyone — Venezuelan and non-Venezuelan — must respect that process.

We firmly believe also that it is anachronistic and smacks of colonialism and bullying for any country to engineer regime change in another foreign country, and to try to determine who governs in that country. It is plain and simply wrong whether the forced change is taking place in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa or the Caribbean.

The Grenada and Dominica governments are among regional nations that have publicly expressed concern at the situation in Venezuela.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica has said that “any attempt to remove the constitutionally elected government of Venezuela must be condemned by all, in no uncertain terms’’.

And, Grenada has called for an adherence to the rule of law and an acceptance of the supremacy of the constitution by all the players in Venezuela.

We couldn’t agree more with the positions of Grenada and Dominica. Our wish, too, is for a peaceful and amicable resolution to the situation in Venezuela — from and by Venezuelans.

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