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  Opinion   Oped  28 Feb 2019  US courts Kim at Hanoi while bullying Maduro

US courts Kim at Hanoi while bullying Maduro

The writer is a senior journalist and commentator based in New Delhi
Published : Mar 1, 2019, 12:10 am IST
Updated : Mar 1, 2019, 12:10 am IST

Time magazine considered President Lula as one of the most influential leaders in recent history.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Photo: AP)
 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Photo: AP)

Most people have forgotten how cross Margaret Thatcher was with Ronald Reagan for having invaded Grenada to affect a regime change in 1983 without having taken her into confidence. The reason Grenada came to mind is because this island of 91,000 inhabitants is barely 90 miles north of Venezuela, the country currently in the eye of a storm.

There has been so much drum beating in the media that for the United States to give up the military option would involve a loss of face. When military action does bring about a change of regime, it will the 68th time that the US has affected regime change by a coup or invasion. The reason for a delay in military action may well lie in remote Hanoi, Vietnam. How does the US cajole Kim Jong-un to surrender his nuclear weapons when Kim can see Washington bullying Nicolas Maduro to hand over power to America’s favoured man, Juan Guaido, so that he can protect the world’s largest reserves of oil for imperial interests?

By this one act of recognising a handpicked individual, interested governments hope to dethrone a popularly elected President. In the American media, unquantifiable election fraud has triggered a large rally against Mr Maduro. To support the sloganeering crowd is to “side with the people”. In that case, the Yellow Vests who have been protesting all across France for over three months now must attract outside support too.

As for the certification of fair elections anywhere, the world’s most credible outfit is the institute established by former US President Jimmy Carter. It bears his name. Carter is on record having said: “Of the 92 elections that we have monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” He added, in parenthesis: “The US is the worst, with its emphasis on campaign funds.”

To some extent the seeds of Mr Maduro’s trouble lay in an exaggerated self-confidence, a sort of risky bravado with which his much more charismatic guru, Hugo Chavez, allowed the Opposition to retain their monopolies and corruption. A media totally biased against him was left untouched because Chavez could cushion the relentless media invective. He had the support of the indigenous Mestizos and Afro-Venezuelas, by far the majority. They were stoutly with him because they had access to a comprehensive welfare system of which he was the much-adored author. Little wonder that he won eight elections and referendums, something of a record. But Chavez’s Venezuela was hugely helped by high oil prices. It was wonderful for as long as it lasted.

Mr Maduro is having to pay for Chavez’s cardinal error: while setting up a welfare state he ignored the next stage, that of deploying this vast wealth into large-scale diversification of the economy. Before he could embark on diversification, oil prices began to fall, and fall abysmally. The oil industry was on this curve when the mantle fell on Mr Maduro. Not even Mr Maduro’s greatest supporters will claim for him the magical charisma of Chavez. The elite amused themselves by calling Mr Maduro “the bus driver”. But as the economy showed no signs of picking up, as oil prices showed no signs of picking up, the vested interests in their country clubs, the East Caracas elite with their palatial houses in Miami plus neighbouring countries — the US included — began to plot a change of regime, their eyes fixed on the world’s largest oil reserves.

John Pilger, who knows Venezuela well, considers the East Caracas elite who regard themselves as “white” as the powerful core of what the media calls “the Opposition”. This “Opposition” is now going for the regime’s jugular. Plummeting oil prices have caused hyperinflation. And yet, we have Pilger’s testimony that Venezuela is not the catastrophe the global media has painted. He cites a journalist and filmmaker friend of his, Pablo Navarrete: “I have filmed videos of plenty of food in the markets all over Caracas — it is Friday night and the restaurants are full.”

Meanwhile, John Bolton, the gun-slinging national security adviser in the White House, has made no secret of his targets in Latin America — Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua. These are, by Mr Bolton’s definition, “the Troika of Tyranny”. One of his targets, President Lula da Silva, has already been pulverised out of action.

Without the Western media tilting the story totally against President Lula, it is difficult to imagine how meekly the world acquiesced in the fall of one of history’s most popular leaders. Even more depressing is the fact that his far-right replacement, Jair Bolsonaro, is a self-confessed racist who romanticises Brazil’s military dictators in the days of yore — an unadulterated fascist. That’s what Mr Bolsonaro is.

Time magazine considered President Lula as one of the most influential leaders in recent history. On his ascent as President, journalist and filmmaker Michael Moore wrote: “The country’s robber barons nervously checked fuel gauges in their private jets for a quick escape.” According to Moore: “What Lula wants for Brazil is what used to be called the American Dream.” Moore was not the only one showering superlatives on Mr Lula. President Barack Obama said of him — “this is my man right there”. Mr Obama quoted the title of Prof. Ted G. Goertzel’s book “Lula”. The distinguished professor of sociology at Rutgers University described Mr Lula as “the most popular politician on earth”.

Mr Lula, a socialist with his own characteristics, did the impossible when the World Economic Forum in Davos conferred on him the Global Statesmanship Award. But such is the penetration of Latin American establishments by the CIA that the courts were mobilised to bar Mr Lula from contesting the 2018 presidential election. Instead, a rank fascist, Jair Bolsonaro, was preferred. Once Venezuela is out of the way, the media will suddenly discover all sorts of horrors in Nicaragua. The fall of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua will complete Mr Bolton’s “Troika of Tyranny”. Someone as benign as Mr Bolsonaro will soon be wheeled in.

Tags: kim jong-un, nicolas maduro