Waging Economic War on Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
Washington tolerates no sovereign independent governments. It wants pro-Western ones replacing them. It wants subservient ones it controls.
After Chavez became president in February 1999, Bolivarian social justice was attacked.
Mass protests aborted an April 2002 coup attempt. A 64-day 2002 - 03 general strike and oil management lockout caused severe economic disruption.
An August 2004 national recall referendum failed. Chavez won a resounding 59% majority. Other disruptions occurred regularly. They continue. More on that below.
Washington declared Chavez a regional enemy. It wants President Nicolas Maduro toppled. It wants a subservient stooge replacing him. It wants Venezuela made a client state.
It wants Bolivarianism crushed. It wants state-owned enterprises privatized. It wants predatory capitalist harshness replacing economic and social justice.
It wants control of Venezuela's vast hydrocarbon resources. They're the world's largest by far. Proved mostly light sweet reserves are nearly 300 billion barrels.
The Department of Energy estimates heavy and extra-heavy oil resources at up to 1.36 trillion barrels. It's nearly half the amount of 2012 proved world oil reserves. It's a prize Washington covets.
For nearly 15 years, US administrations targeted Venezuela disruptively. Obama continues what his predecessors began.
America's National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), US Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Alternatives, CIA and FBI actively wage economic and political war on Venezuela.
Chavez believed America wanted him dead. Attempts to assassinate him failed. William Blum once asked:
"How do we know that the CIA was behind the" aborted 2002 coup? "Same way we know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. That's what it's always done, and there's no reason to think that tomorrow morning will any different."
CIA and FBI elements actively plotted against him. They wanted him gone. They want Bolivarianism eliminated.
US history is rife with dozens of coups and assassinations. Independent foreign leaders were targeted.
Obama killed Chavez. He was either poisoned or infected with cancer causing substances.
Maduro believes it. He was "injected by imperialist forces," he said. He "was poisoned by dark forces in order to hit at the Venezuelan people and Latin America."
"He received (lots) of death threats. Everything seems to indicate that they managed to affect his health using the most advanced techniques."
Blum believes it. "(D)uring the Cold War," he said, "the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace."
He believes Washington murdered Chavez. He's not alone. Maduro's targeted the same way. He's well aware America wants him ousted. It wants him replaced. It likely wants him dead.
Chavismo remains the threat of a good example. US/Venezuelan relations remain tense for good reason. Washington actively supports opposition elements. Economic and political wars continue.
Venezuela's national electrical grid was targeted. Blackouts affected large areas. Its Amuay oil refinery was attacked. So was Caracas' Metro System. Sabotage disrupted operations.
Hoarding food and other basic goods causes artificial inflation. So does selling them at way above market prices.
Maduro accused Washington of waging economic war. "We have knowledge of this," he said. Obama officials are plotting for Venezuela's "economic collapse."
They want a "social explosion." They're "preparing a transition government to be installed following chaos."
A new film titled "April: Between Peace and Rage" examines Washington instigated and supported right wing Venezuelan opposition following Maduro's election.
It premiered on television. Maduro urges all Venezuelans to watch it. They'll understand the threat to their security and well-being.
It explains ongoing destabilizing economic warfare. It's similar to how Nixon made Chile's economy scream under Allende.
It preceded ousting him for Pinochet. Doing so transformed Latin America's most socially democratic country into an unfettered capitalist laboratory.
Chileans experienced laissez faire hell. Coup d'etat viciousness enforced it. Crony capitalists benefitted hugely.
Chile today remains a model of social injustice. Neoliberal harshness robs millions of futures. Washington wants Venezuela transformed the same way.
Maduro's going all out to prevent it. He proposed price controls to limit profiteering. He did so after discovering "grotesque overpricing in the electrical appliance sector."
Items sold are imported. Markups were as high as 1,200%. One bolivar = about 6.3 dollars. A 4,200 bolivar washing machine was priced at 47,000 bolivars.
Venezuela's Daka is a five-store electronics chain. KVG and Krash are similar operations. On November 8, Maduro reacted. Their store managers were arrested.
Operations were temporarily taken over. Maduro ordered goods sold at fair market prices. Managers face price gouging charges.
Vice President Jorge Arreaza said government efforts against speculators and profiteers will continue. "We will protect the people against bourgeois parasitism," he said.
Venezuelans took advantage of fair pricing. On state television, Maduro said what happened "is for the good of the nation. Leave nothing on the shelves," he urged, "nothing in the warehouses. Let nothing remain in stock."
At issue is economic warfare. Internal and external dark forces wage it, he said. Food, vehicle, hardware and other businesses operate the same way.
They'll be targeted to stop them, Maduro stressed. Fair pricing will replace grotesque gouging. Monitoring will continue once company officials regain operational control.
"Each person who was robbed by those grotesque prices will get their money back," said Maduro.
A separate article discussed his enabling law power request. It's constitutionally permitted. Chavez used it responsibly four times. Previous Venezuelan leaders used it six times.
It streamlines the legislative process. Emergencies are handled more expeditiously. So are other priorities needing immediate attention.
Maduro said he'll use enabling law authority to enforce fair pricing of all products. He'll stop grotesque profiteering.
"Economic freedom means that I produce and sell with a minimal profit and I respect the consumer," he said.
"Furthermore I receive the dollar that the state gives me. I bring the product and I sell it at a fair price, and I don't add an extra 1,000% of grotesque profit."
Price gougers rob people, he added. Responsible parties will be prosecuted. He'll address shortages of basic goods. He'll go all out to relieve them.
a new national monitoring task force; businesses will be inspected to assure they operate lawfully;
a new National Corporation of Logistics and Transport agency; it'll facilitate ready supply of goods;
a new National Center of Foreign Commerce; it'll supply businesses and individuals with foreign currencies; it'll regulate import and export activities; it'll be managed by the National Center of Exterior Commerce; and
continued efforts by Venezuela's consumer protection agency Indepabis; it'll identify hoarders; it cracked down earlier this year; stepped up efforts will follow.
Economic war includes unconscionable practices. Price gouging and hoarding provoked shortages created enormous problems. Maduro wants them addressed. He wants them ended.
He introduced economic reforms. "We have to make real decisions for the benefit of the economy and society, whatever the cost and whatever happens," he said.
He pledged strong measures. "For the period of November and December we will establish a special operation to protect and ensure fair price sales for the population of several items that we consider important," he said.
"Textiles, footwear, appliances, vehicles, footwear, toys among others (will be checked) and we will begin to apply (these measures) from today."
"We are going to review the entire supply chain. We are going to check every inventory in the country."
He accused Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecamaras) head, Jorge Roig, of direct involvement in "economic war."
Former Fedecamaras head Pedro Carmona was Washington's hand-picked stooge to replace Chavez. In 2002, he did so for two days.
He proved his bona fides straightaway. He suspended democratically elected National Assembly members.
He abolished Bolivarian reforms. Restoration followed Chavez's reinstatement. Carmona sought political asylum in Colombia.
At the time, Venezuela's Supreme Court wanted him extradited on civil insurrection charges.
In December 2007, Chavez pardoned over 60 coup plotters. Relations with Fedecamaras remain strained.
Mission Mercal is being expanded. It sells heavily subsidized food. It does so at affordable prices.
Thousands of Mercal outlets operate nationwide. They're state owned. Millions of Venezuelans benefit.
Much remains to be done. A leaked document titled "Venezuelan Strategic Plan" outlined a 15-point destabilization plan. An introductory paragraph states:
"The plan, agreed by consensus with worthy representatives of the opposition to the government of Nicolas Maduro, focuses on these objectives with the continued strong support of several global personalities, with the function of returning to Venezuela true democracy and independence, that have been kidnapped over 14 years."
In other words, it wants predatory capitalism writ large replacing Bolivarian social and economic justice.
Tactics include espionage, sabotage, violence, provoking public discontent, and hoarding induced shortages of basic goods.
Maduro denounced the plot. He knows the names of responsible parties. He knew before and after becoming president he'd be a marked man.
He promised Venezuelans responsible governance. He's gone all out to prove it. He faces enormous challenges.
Destabilization schemes target him. Washington is very much involved. Obama continues what his predecessors began. What follows remains to be seen.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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