By LAZARO MONTEVERDE
Like a chess master who move by move crushes a weaker opponent, the U.S. is again moving against Venezuela. At the urging of Washington., 12 of the 19 nations who are part of the Treaty of Rio, known by its Spanish acronym TIAR [Tratado Internacional de Asistencia Reciproca], voted to invoke the treaty provisions against Venezuela. This treaty provides the legal and international justification for military action against Venezuela, including an invasion. The latest move came on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 1973 U.S.-backed military coup in Chile against Salvador Allende.
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Paraguay, and Venezuela all voted to invoke the treaty in addition to the United States. Why would Venezuela vote to authorize military intervention against itself, you may ask?
To understand this seemingly bizarre event, we have to look back at an earlier U.S. move. In April 2017 Venezuela withdrew from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Rio Treaty in protest of U.S. attempts to use the OAS to intervene in Venezuela. The OAS has a two-year process before the withdrawal is finalized. Finalized in April 2019, the OAS, at the behest of the U.S., replaced the legitimate representatives of the Venezuela government with the envoy of U.S. puppet Juan Guaidó. The U.S. puppet government now represents Venezuela at the OAS.
Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Panama, and Peru all abstained—effectively a “no” vote. The Bahamas was absent, given the crisis provoked by Hurricane Dorian. Cuba is also a member of TIAR but does not participate in the OAS. In the broader meeting of the OAS following the vote, Bolivia walked out in protest; Mexico (not a member of TIAR) and Uruguay strongly condemned the vote, arguing that TIAR is not an appropriate way to deal with an internal political crisis, such as Venezuela’s.
The pretext for the vote is a series of military exercises that 150,000 Venezuelan troops are carrying out from now until Sept. 28 near the Colombia border. While all nations conduct such exercises, including the U.S., the threat of a Gulf of Tonkin type incident is very real. An article appearing in the Washington Post on Sept. 12, the day after the OAS vote, warned that the possibility of armed conflict between Colombia and Venezuela is now a “real, and terrifying, possibility.” The Post goes on to discuss likely scenarios, including a preemptive strike by Colombia based on allegations (as of this writing unproven) that Venezuela is training Colombian guerrillas for a strike on Colombia, and that the guerrillas are now armed and funded by the Maduro government.
What is the U.S. endgame? There are now four possibilities. First, the U.S. could continue its current campaign of economic war and destabilization in hopes that Maduro will step down or be forcibly removed. Second, the U.S. could launch a coup, as it did successfully in Chile in 1973 or tried to do unsuccessfully in Venezuela on April 30 of this year.
Third, either through a made-up incident between Colombia and Venezuela or a pre-emptive attack on Venezuela by Colombia, the U.S. could support a proxy war carried out by Colombia. Fourth, the US could launch a unilateral military strike or a full-scale invasion against Venezuela. The Treaty of Rio vote now makes the third and fourth possibilities more likely. The Washington Post article is practically an announcement of U.S. intentions.
The next U.S. move may take place as early as this week at the UN. The United Nations General Assembly convenes on Sept. 17 and serious policy debate begins on Sept. 24. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued its report on Venezuela on July 4, 2019. This report, critical of the Maduro government while ignoring the economic, political, and covert war against Venezuela, provides a public-relations rationale for intervention.
The governments that make up the TIAR also plan on meeting during the General Assembly to decide their next steps against Venezuela. These diplomatic moves against the Maduro government and the people of Venezuela come at a time when the economic war and covert operations against Venezuela are crushing the people. The UN estimates that there are currently 4 million Venezuelan refugees, mostly living in Latin America and the Caribbean. If current conditions continue, the number could reach 8 million by the end of 2020. This would be the largest refugee crisis in the world, surpassing the almost 7 million who have fled the Syrian war.
All peoples of the Americas must mobilize against this war threat. Say no to the economic war against the Venezuelan people! Say no to U.S. covert operations! Say no to war against Venezuela!