Vice President Mike Pence released a statement on the Jan. 22 expressing “unwavering support” for Juan Guaido, the right-wing leader of the opposition to Nicolas Maduro’s government, in usurping the current government of Venezuela. This action, according to the “Wall Street Journal” in late Jan., is the first step in the U.S. plan to “reshape Latin America.” Venezuela’s history is marked by patterns of instability, ranging from the brutality of Spanish colonialism, violent civil wars, and the economic turmoil the nation faced in the late 20th century. In the early 2000s, Hugo Chavez’s government gained popularity by providing some semblance of stability, and current supporters of Maduro’s government want the Chavista policies to continue. However, economic sanctions and the rationing of basic goods have plunged the nation into economic ruin and many Venezuelans support a regime change. The likelihood of a U.S. backed coup against Maduro seems higher than ever, so what does this mean for Venezuela and the rest of Latin America?
The long history of U.S. imperialism in Latin America began with the declaration of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, opposing further European colonization of Latin America and establishing a U.S. sphere of influence in the region. From then on the U.S. has been intervening in the region to protect American interests and in some cases, established colonies and protectorates. Following the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Cuba has been the target of many U.S. assassination attempts and economic sanctions for decades. From the early 70s until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the CIA sponsored and planned Operation Condor in an effort to eliminate political opposition to right-wing military dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It is estimated that at least 60,000 people were killed or disappeared as a result of the operation.
Venezuela’s problems are their own, and it has been proven time after time that U.S. involvement in foreign nations only worsens their situation. Latin America does not need to be “reshaped” by the U.S. anymore. If we express outrage over suspicions that a foreign power interfered in our political system, then perhaps we should oppose politicians’ efforts to interfere in the political systems of other countries.
American imperialism has been a bipartisan effort for more than a century and both parties have always been influenced by corporate interests. U.S. businesses have had their eye on Venezuela’s massive oil reserves for decades and an American intervention could mean repeating disasters like those in oil-rich Iraq and Libya.
It is finally time to re-evaluate our country’s role in international politics and start respecting the sovereignty of foreign nations.