What has happened in Venezuela?
What happened was that “Juan Guaído swore himself in as interim head of state with the support of the United States and some major Latin American nations” (Reuters). In other words, the head of Venezuelan congress proclaimed himself president, pushing Maduro aside, with Trump giving his thumbs up, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and more.
It’s fair to say that things are looking a lot like they did during the Cold War. US mainstream media rushes to declare all the powerful American countries that do recognize Guaído as president, but overlook the fact that Venezuela’s own military has not recognized it. Vladimir Padrino, Venezuela’s defense minister, stated that they do not recognize “a president imposed in the shadows of obscure interests”. Not only that, but he has also overseen exchange of large scale military equipment and expertise from Russia, and described US influence in Venezuela as hybrid warfare; responsible for the institutional and economic destabilization of the country.
Knowing this, it won’t come as a surprise that Cuba and China, alongside Russia, have also stood by Maduro. And that Brazil’s Worker’s Party (PT), whose two term president-elect, Dilma, was impeached a few years ago under dubious pretences, opposed Bolsonaro’s decision to parrot Trump’s words on the matter.
The brewing of popular opinion towards anti-Hispanic migrants, and anti-Venezuelan migrants in particular, has been rampant during Bolsonaro’s campaign and first few weeks in office. As I mentioned in my last editorial, anti-“communist” rhetoric, and anti-Venezuelan migration, has turned the atmosphere on the streets quite hostile. “Bolivarian diaspora” has been a term on Wikipedia for 5 years. Between 2015 and 2017, one million Venezuelans moved abroad, about 100 thousand of which ended up in Brazil. That is about the same amount of Brazilian people who are homeless, so we can discard the idea that it is socialism that spreads poverty.
“Usually the population is pacifist, just like they were during the First World War. The public sees no reason to get involved in foreign adventures, killing, and torture. So you have to whip them up. And to whip them up you have to frighten them.” (Chomsky, on Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda)
Brazil and Colombia constitute almost 90% of Venezuela’s land boundaries, the other 10% still being disputed with Guyana. Although it is said by authorities that Brazil has no plans to be involved in potential military conflict, the Brazilian military has significantly expanded its presence on the Venezuelan border since last month. Their official purpose is welcoming (acolhendo) Venezuelan refugees, and managing operations and safety of about 13 shelters. Before the installment of these shelters, migrants were at the mercy of Brazilian mobs that attacked and set fire to their encampments.
The words “welcome”, “shelter”, and “safety” do quite the opposite of frightening anyone. Of the about 100 thousand Venezuelan people in diaspora in Brazil, many are Guaído supporters. In fact they have already taken to the streets of São Paulo in support of the new president, and of Maduro’s exit. Nevertheless, they are targets of overt xenophobia.
Let’s try and learn from the past, to recognize the ways in which history sometimes repeats itself. On the other hand, let’s find new, modern ways to combat these superbug infections that our wimpy antibiotics have barely been able to combat while they were regular bacteria.
Mainstream media and television have been vessels for these political bacterial infections. The hippie era during the Vietnam war was an antibiotic, but now Media has new ways; new technology and techniques. Will we also find new types of resistance? Will we look for information in different places? Perhaps read the regular places critically? Check dates and sources, ask people elsewhere and listen, and know that if critical information is handed it’s not worth taking?
I hope so.
Editor and writer.