Annotations on the Thwarted Coup in Venezuela

Argentine political scientist and sociologist, Atilio Boron, shares his thoughts on the recently unearthed "Blue Coup" attempt against the Maduro government and analyses what he characterises as the decline of US global hegemony.


Just over a year ago the fascist Venezuelan rightwing launched a new offensive aimed at bringing about the “exit” of President Nicolas Maduro. The ‘exit” was a euphemism, a signal for a call to sedition. In other words, the removal of the legal and legitimately elected head of state by the people through violent, illegal and unconstitutional means.

This initiative was surrounded by a halo of heroism in the rightwing press across the whole continent, which through their tricks and “lies which appear to be true” – according the acute description provided by Mario Vargas Llosa – tried to cement a daring operation of political alchemy: to transform a group of insurrectionists into epic “combatants for liberty”. 

All this, naturally, was encouraged, organised and financed by the White House which, at the time, had still not recognised Maduro’s victory in the presidential elections of April 14th 2013.

Paradoxically, Washington moved as swiftly as lightning to bless Otto Perez Molina’s election, a Guatemalan General involved in a macabre history of genocidal repression in his country, or, for example, to sanctify the election of Porfirio Lobo in a fraudulent electoral process, concocted by the putschists that removed the legitimate president, Jose Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, from power and which then went on to submerge Honduras in a never-ending blood bath. 

But it’s one rule for friends and quite a different one for enemies, or better put, for governments which, for refusing to kneel before imperialist dictates, become enemies. The Bolivarian Republican of Venezuela is one of these governments, as are Our Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador. 

Having refused to recognise the verdict of the ballot boxes, Washington not only transgresses international law, but it also becomes a promotor and accomplice to the insurrectionists, whose work of destruction and death cost the lives of 43 Venezuelan men and women (in the most part, Chavistas o state security officials). 

Over the last few weeks the United States has redoubled its efforts to destabilise the Venezuelan government, but it has now upped its bet. If before it acted through a gang of putschists, who would be paying heavy sentences in prison in any other country in the world, today it mistrusts its Venezuelan pawns and is taking the matter into its own hands by intervening directly. 

Today, it’s no longer those obscene proteges of imperialism, think Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado or Henrique Capriles, who are promoting destabilisation and chaos, but rather the White House itself. 

This is an empire which is helped by its owners and which fires a battery of aggressive, diplomatic measures and economic sanctions that can be added to the media terrorism campaign, launched at the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution and which has continues to last up until this week, with the promotion of a state coup which bears all the hallmarks of the White House. 

Responding to these accusations, the White House’s spokesperson Jen Psaki described them as “ridiculous” and stated that the “United States does not support political transitions via non-constitutional means. Political transitions should be democratic, constitutional, pacific and legal,”.

It’s obvious that the spokesperson is a barefaced and serial liar, or, a more generous hypothesis would be to assume that she suffers from a serious illness that has wiped her neurological hard drive. 

To repair it, it would be sufficient to invite her to watch a dispatch from CBC News, which shows one of her superiors, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, chatting amiably with the Neonazis that occupied Maidan Square in Kiev, demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovich, something which they achieved just a few days later after a series of violent actions (1). 

A little later, the Pravy Sektor Neonazi gangs attacked a local trade union building in Odessa where those opposed to the coup in the Ukraine had gathered. They set it alight and burnt some thirty people alive while shooting those who tried to escape from the burning building. 

These gangs, encouraged by Washington through the presence of Nuland, acted in the same way as the criminals from the Islamic State when they captured a Jordanian pilot, locked him in a cage and then set it alight. This action was described as an atrocity of incalculable cruelty, while the other was just an unfortunate incident that barely warranted a statement from the State Department. 

Lastly, it would be opportune to remind the forgetful spokesperson that it was the very same Barack Obama who said that the United States “occasionally twisted the arms of countries when they don’t do what we want”. 

Since 1998, Venezuela has not done what Washington wants, and that’s why the US government is trying to twist its arm with a whole paraphernalia of initiatives, which now once again include, as in 2002, a military coup (2). 

Some might object that the Bolivarian government is crying wolf, that their complaints are unfounded and that there was no attempted coup. Those who think that way are ignoring (or preferring to ignore) the lessons of Latin American history. These lessons demonstrate that state coups always begin with timely, seemingly foolish and imprudent actions from one group which shouldn’t be taken seriously. 

Furthermore, it’s usually the case that governments who are disconcerted by these activities, or denounce them as the embryo of a state coup, are accused of being irresponsible, trying to sow anxiety amongst the population, and seeing phantoms where there is only a small nucleus of fanatics trying to get the attention of authorities. 

In any case, how can we ignore the preparatory work of the Venezuelan rightwing when just a few weeks ago it invited ex-presidents Andres Pastrana, Felipe Calderon and Sebastian Pinera to visit Leopoldo Lopez, on the pretext of participating in a forum on citizen empowerment and democracy? 

Or when it published a communique, signed by principal fascist leaders in Venezuela, Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma, opportunely dated the 14th of February. A communique which, after an apocalyptic diagnosis of Venezuelan reality, ends by saying “the time has come for change. The immense suffering of our people will not allow for any more delays”. 

In the entire communique, they only use terms which are trademarked by the White House, “transition, regime change” without the slightest reference to a recall referendum or any other institutional mechanism that allows for a change in the government and which is outlined in the Chavista constitution. 

These are mechanisms which don’t even exist in the countries where the aforementioned ex-presidents are from, but whereas Venezuela is accused of being a “totalitarian state,” the countries that don’t have similar clauses available are heralded as examples of democracy whose presidents can go to the Bolivarian Republic to lecture on democracy. 

Why do they not allude to these mechanisms in the communique? Because neither Washington nor its henchmen are thinking about a change which can be brought about by legal mechanisms. The imperialist script is violent replacement, in the style of Libya or the Ukraine, or in the best of cases, through a “parliamentary coup” which brought down Lugo, or a “judicial coup” such as that which came before the removal of Zelaya (3). Forget the Constitution!

To summarise: we have Washington’s desire to put an end to the Bolivarian process – as they have done in so many other countries – we have the local shock troops, the fascist or fascistoid rightwing that has an impressive amount of media support at its disposal, both inside and outside of Venezuela, and now a putschist vanguard that has also emerged, and which was discovered and dismantled by the government of Maduro. 

The technique of the state coup in Latin America demonstrates that it’s necessary to proceed methodically: it always begins with a small sector which takes the initiative and which serves to test both the government’s reaction and the correlation of forces in the streets and military barracks. 

It is never the sum total of the armed forces or the insurrectionary bloc which comes out, and in unison, stirs up rebellion en masse. That wasn’t what happened against Salvador Allende in Chile. It was the Marine Infantry that, in the early hours of the morning on September 11th, took over the streets of Valparaiso, unleashing a chain reaction which ended with a state coup. 

The same happened with the overthrow of Juan Perron in Argentina in 1955, when a garrison in Cordoba rose up in arms. The thesis is also corroborated in Ecuador on September 30th in 2010, when an insurgency within the National Police force took President Rafael Correa prisoner for more than 12 hours. 

The immediate reaction of the people meant that the coup was aborted, preventing the putschist vanguard from receiving the military and political support necessary for the process to conclude with the overthrow of the Ecuadorian president. 

When authorities underestimate or fail to act in the face of what initially appears to be an extravagant demonstration, as small and inoffensive as a patrol gone AWOL, is when a state coup ends up being unleashed (4). 

It seems sensible to ask the reasons for the disproportionate reactions of the empire, evident not only in the case of the Bolivarian Republic, but also in the Ukraine. 

The answer was revealed some time ago: empires become more violent and brutal in their phase of decadence and decomposition (5). This is a sociological rule that has been proven in numerous cases, starting with the history of the Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, Portuguese, British and French empires. Why would the United States be an exception?

All the more so if we take into account that North American decadence, recognisable in the main strategies of the empire, is accompanied by a rapid recomposition of the global power structure. In this restructure, the fleeting North American unilateralism which burst forth from the ruins of the Soviet Union – an infantile illusion fuelled by Bill Clinton and George Bush and their abominable assessors – and which announced with pomp and fanfare the advent of a “new American century,” has come undone like a small piece of ice tossed into the burning sand of the Sahara. 

Now the empire must deal with a multipolar world, with allies who are much more tepid and reticent, tax payers who are more disobedient and enemies who are increasingly more powerful. 

In this context Venezuela, the world’s largest oil reserve, takes on a special importance and the re-appropriation of this country can no longer wait.  Or, as the putschist communique states, “can no longer delay”. 

A last reference that I must make is related to the targets chosen by the frustrated coup-makers for their bomb attacks. Apart from key governmental buildings, their list included TeleSur’s headquarters in Caracas. 

The reasons behind this are easily discernible; the coup makers just as much the masterminds of the coup both outside and inside the country, are well aware of the fundamental role that TeleSur’s plays in reporting from an “Our America” perspective and in rousing and cultivating anti-imperialist consciousness in the region. 

A product of Comandante Chavez’s strategic vision, this multinational public enterprise was conceived of as an efficient tool for liberating the great battle of ideas to which we are committed. Its international importance and credibility have not ceased to grow from then onwards. 

Its list of programmes has an impressive level of informative and educational content and the capacity of those who work there has allowed millions of people across the world to become aware of the lies propagated by the establishment media. 

We will mention just two cases out of the many that we could choose: the report on the state coup against Zelaya – totally omitted from establishment television, which then went on to distort the news when they could no longer ignore it – and the exposure of the news claiming that Gadaffi was bombing defenceless civilians in Benghazi, an inroad for NATO’s project which unfortunately concluded successfully with the killing of Gadaffi and the destruction of Libya. 

Whilst the entirety of the gutless international media lied, TeleSur was the only media which was truthful throughout those four days, a fact which later everyone was forced to recognise. There were no bomb attacks, and the alleged civilians were no more than a bloody band of mercenaries sent to loot and kill by the United States and their European accomplices. 

That’s why the fascists listed this enterprise as a target to be destroyed. And that is a badge of honour for our colleagues and friends at TeleSur, who should be proud. It would have been worrying had they ignored TeleSur in their putschist plans. These comrades can cite Quijote with pride, “Let the dogs bark, Sancho, it’s a sign that we are on track”. 

Notes 1 See this article http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-victoria-nuland-wades-into-ukraine-turmoil-over-yanukovich/2 Obama made this wretched (but sincere) statement in a report with VOX. See http://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/166016-obama-torcer-brazos-paises3 The whole text can be seen here http://elimpulso.com/articulo/comunicado-de-lopez-machado-y-ledezma-en-2014-la-salida-era-urgente-en-2015-es-impostergable#4 On this issue, Marcos Roitman Rosenmann’s study, A Time of Darkness: A History of State Coups in Latin America is essential. (Madrid: Akal, 2013)5 We develop this thesis in “Latin America in the Geopolitics of Imperialism” (Editions available in Argentina, Estado Español, Cuba, México, Venezuela and soon in Bolivia, Brasil and Ecuador)

Translated by Rachael Boothroyd for Venezuelanalysis.