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In Defense: Hands off Venezuela

Opinion+columnist+Caleb+Stekl+and+junior+philosophy+major+Cade+Olmstead+pen+a+Letter+to+the+Editor+advocating+for+the+U.S.+to+not+go+forward+with+military+action+in+Venezuela.
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In Defense: Hands off Venezuela

Opinion columnist Caleb Stekl and junior philosophy major Cade Olmstead pen a Letter to the Editor advocating for the U.S. to not go forward with military action in Venezuela.

Opinion columnist Caleb Stekl and junior philosophy major Cade Olmstead pen a Letter to the Editor advocating for the U.S. to not go forward with military action in Venezuela.

TNS

Opinion columnist Caleb Stekl and junior philosophy major Cade Olmstead pen a Letter to the Editor advocating for the U.S. to not go forward with military action in Venezuela.

TNS

TNS

Opinion columnist Caleb Stekl and junior philosophy major Cade Olmstead pen a Letter to the Editor advocating for the U.S. to not go forward with military action in Venezuela.

Letter to the Editor

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Editor’s Note: This Letter to the Editor was submitted by Caleb Stekl, opinion columnist, and Cade Olmstead, junior philosophy major.

In weeks prior, Colin Horning’s opinion piece, Socialism Causes Economic Peril, featured the claim that Venezuela’s current hardships are the result of state intervention into the economy, and he is right, but not as one might expect. What his argument fails to see is that it is not the actions of the socialist government which have produced today’s conditions, but rather the intervention of another state, the United States, or in a Marxian sense, the State of global capital. The strategic deployment of misleading information in the media and engendering of supply shortages have been the result of the capitalist class, but first, let us highlight the many humanitarian and social achievements accomplished by the democratic Chavismo movement.

It should first be noted that Hugo Chávez was elected out of the chaos of two economic crises during the 1980s and 1990s, something that even Horning admits in his article. These crises are cited as the result of a drop in oil prices. In other words, they are the result of a volatile capitalist market. This should come as no surprise as the formal relations of the capitalist economic system engender crisis (one need only reference the principle of overproduction).

In spite of the effects of those market-induced crises, the Chavismo movement was able to make numerous gains: illiteracy rates dropped from 17 percent to 1 percent, infant mortality rates declined from 20 deaths per 1000 live births to 13 deaths, extreme poverty declined from 23.4 percent to 8.5 percent, unemployment was almost halved with a drop from 14.5 percent to 7.6 percent, the United Nations has consistently ranked Venezuela’s Human Development Index as having a “high world ranking” and finally, Venezuela now has the second lowest rate homelessness in Latin America as a result of government construction.

The list could go on and would include the transformative democratic mechanisms implemented, such as the development of a grassroots-lead constitutional reform process.

All of this has been accomplished, and is still taking place, despite brutal economic sanctions. Yet if you were to listen to the media, it would sound as if the Bolivarian Revolution was having a catastrophic effect on the Venezuelan people. However, the global catastrophe of capitalism is not only being displaced by the media through its intense focus on ‘totalitarian’ regimes — Venezuela, North Korea, Syria —   but this displacement occurs via the structure of capital itself. These regimes present a direct threat to western hegemony and this hegemonic power is wielded through sanctions, embargos and restrictions on foreign aid. Thus, we should not be surprised to see countries which do not capitulate to the demands of the West constantly being overthrown, cooped and sanctioned.

But is the picture really this simple? Is the West’s attempt at global, economic hegemony all that is at stake in Venezuela? A far greater threat to the West than Venezuela holding the world’s largest oil reserves, or China claiming the largest labor force, is the emancipatory potential contained in these Democratic projects.

Just last week, President Nicolás Maduro called on workers in the United States to see the struggle they share with the Venezuelan people and to ignite a fierce, Vietnam-style, anti-war coalition. Workers in the West have nothing to gain from Venezuelan oil, only death and bloodshed from both countries. Maduro is correct: the antagonism creating the present power struggle is not between the peoples of the United States and Venezuela, but with Capital itself. Were workers in the West to see that socialism can and does create a society free of economic anxiety, social oppression and solidarity, the ideological edifice of neo-liberalism would be weakened.

And by no means should we undermine the threat and perils currently facing the country, but it is the threat of losing the social progress made that should concern us. One of the most common claims heard in the media is lack of foodstuffs, but if one takes a closer look at the situation, it is the deliberate restriction of food products locked away in warehouses or smuggled across the border and the price-gouging behaviors of the privately-owned corporations that is causing so much strife. It may come as a surprise, but almost 80 percent of business is owned by private corporations! (This includes one of Venezuela’s major food companies). One critique of the Chavismo movement is that it wasn’t socialist enough. Venezuelan corporations in tandem with imperialist, oil thirsty powers are deliberately seeking the overthrow of a democratically elected ruler. Numerous election observers from all around the world, including Western nations such as Canada, certified the election as being fair and free. Here, it needs reminding that the minority opposition parties in Venezuela refused to participate in the elections, and when one member did run against Maduro, he was ousted from his own party.

A deliberate campaign has been waged to de-legitimize a democratically elected government all the while being enframed and espoused for the sake of democracy. A closer look reveals that these are empty and misleading rhetoric by the West. We should worry when elected US officials are calling upon the military to take matters into their own hands. We need not another US-sponsored military dictatorship in Latin America. US foreign policy has waged enough violence in the region. Our message is simple: No coup, No war, Hands off Venezuela!

The urgency of this call to action is not simply ideological but inherently humanitarian. The same tactics and rhetoric being employed against the Maduro regime are the same ones used to justify interventions in Iraq, Vietnam and Cuba. The United States has intervened 56 times in 17 out of the 33 Latin and South American countries. One of these interventions was the 2002 coup attempting to overthrow Chavez. Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton have both openly admitted that a friendly Venezuelan regime would mean massive profits for oil companies and that a military option is currently being pursued. The call to respect Venezuela’s sovereignty is necessary, no matter your political affiliation. The history of US intervention is profit stained with the blood of millions.

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In Defense: Hands off Venezuela